Blanket flower

I have a fondness for pastel colored blooms in my flower gardens. At a whim, I tired blanket flower (Gaillardia var.) and I’m glad I did. Blanket flower is also known as Indian flower for its bloom colors reminiscent of Native American blankets. As reported by the National Gardening Association, some varieties of blanket flower, like Gaillardia x grandiflora, are perennial and cold hardy in USDA growing zones 3 through 9. Other varieties, like Gaillardia pulchella, are annuals. All blanket flower plants, annual or perennial, self-seed to return each year.
The plant grows 12 to 36 inches tall depending on the variety that all carry daisy-like blooms of red, orange or yellow. Shown is the ‘Goblin’ variety of blanket flower, which grows to about 12 inches tall. Blanket flower blooms from May to September.

Planting

Blanket flower grows best in full sun and in well-drained soil. Loosen the soil to a depth equal to the height of the plant container. Make the hole twice as wide as the container. Remove the blanket flower plant from the container and place in the center of the hole. The soil at the top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil. Back fill the hole with soil removed from the hole.

Plant by seed in spring after danger of frost. Drop groups of two or three seeds about 12 inches apart. Cover the seeds with a pinch of soil. Keep the soil moist. When seedlings are about 3 inches tall, gently remove the smallest seedlings in each group.

Propagating

Propagate blanket flower by digging up the root ball in the spring about every three years. Cut the root ball into four to six sections and immediately replant.

If propagating from seed, let the seed heads completely dry outdoors on the stem or snip the stem and take the seed heads indoors to dry. Alternatively, skip deadheading and allow some blooms to convert to seed and drop. The fallen seeds can produce new growth the following spring.

Care

Spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch, such as pine bark chips or leaf mold, around the plant. Mulch helps to retain moisture and block weed growth. Water every seven to 10 days if there is no rainfall. Deadheading encourages more blooms. Use a water-soluble fertilizer if desired. Cut the plant back to the base in early spring.

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