Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower is a perennial flower native to North and South America. While it looks a great deal like a daisy it is actually related to the sunflower. Gaillardia gets the name blanket flower as the red and yellow pattern on its blooms reminds one of the blankets made by Native Americans in the southwestern United States. Recent years have seen a surge in interest in the blanket flower as it is very drought tolerant and makes a great flower for landscapes that are designed not to need significant watering. Not only has interest in the flower increased but so have the variety of colors which include shades of red, yellow and orange. You can start Gaillardia from seed in spring and it might even bloom during the first growing season.
Gaillardia not only doesn’t need extensive watering once it is established but the blooms seem to increase as the quality of the soil gets poorer. I’ve even seen Gaillardia’s blooming in sand dunes on beaches. I’ve grown blanket flowers in containers and in a flower bed with a southern exposure right up against the foundation of my home. You’ll excuse the expression but it is “hot as hell” in this spot yet these flowers flourish without any additional watering on my part. There is no need to fertilize them and while Gaillardia has built its reputation on the ability to withstand heat and drought it is also cold tolerant and survives in USDA Zones as cold as zone 3. It grows 6 to 36 inches tall depending upon the variety you’ve planted and it is a good choice as an edge for a garden path or for rock gardens.
The blanket flowers benefits don’t end here. It is immune to most pests and diseases, it usually doesn’t require staking or support and it’s a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. It is perhaps the longest flowering perennial in my garden as it starts blooming in the spring, continues all summer long and last year I was still getting flower blooms in December! It will continue to bloom even if you don’t remove the faded flowers but I remove them anyway as I think it keeps the plant looking neat and tidy. Now I can’t guarantee that it will bloom this long in your garden but if you have the right spot for it you should give it a try.