Plant Pick: Blanket Flower

 

Just when you thought it was time to hunker down for winter fall flowers come into play, toying with the senses and punctuating the season. Blanket flowers, Gaillardia spp., are no exception and a key component to a vibrant floral display.

Once established Gaillardia requires little water, is deer resistant and prefers average soil. Grow for cut flowers, as a nectar source for butterflies, in a border, rock garden, meadow or as ground cover. With more than a handful of┬ávarieties native to North America, you’re sure to find a species or cultivar suited to your region.

 

Plant Pick: Blanket Flower

 

Propagation

Blanket flower is a diverse group that includes annuals and perennials. Grow from seed, divisions or stem cuttings.

Sow seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost and set out in spring when soils are still moist with spring rain. Or direct sow in spring or fall.

Divide perennials in spring when the nutrient load in roots is at its peak and new, emerging leaves are likely to lose less water. Water well before dividing.

To divide simply unearth plants by working around the drip line of outer leaves with a spade or fork. Lift the plant and gently tease soil away from roots. You should find natural clumps of roots. Separate these clumps and break the larger plant into smaller, natural divisions. If your plant is not showing signs of logical groups cut or break the plant into smaller divisions. Keep roots hydrated in between planting and water well once planted.

Care

Grow in full sun and well drained soils. Deadhead spent flowers regularly to ensure continuous blooms. Shear back perennials to about 6″ before winter weather sets in.

Other Characteristics

Most varieties have few insect or disease problems and come in single, double and semi-double flowers with variations and hues from apricot to gold to scarlet. G. grandiflora has many proven cultivars and G. pulchella is a prolific and dependable annual. Grows well in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 however I’ve successfully grown blanket flowers in zone 10b. Blooms from summer into fall, grows well in containers and is a butterfly and bee favorite.

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