Gaillardia pulchella

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Indian blanket 
Type: Annual
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern and south-central United States, Mexico
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to frost
Bloom Description: Red, yellow on red/yellow bicolor with dark centers
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Annual. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Thrives in sandy soils and dry summer heat, and tolerates poor, dry soils. Sow seed directly in the garden after last frost date or start seed indoors 4-6 weeks earlier. Set seedlings out after last frost date. Space plants 12” apart. It may be difficult to find starter plants of annual gaillardias at local nurseries, since nurseries seem to primarily stock perennial gaillardias (e.g., see F. x grandiflora). Deadheading spent flowers is not necessary but will tidy the planting and may encourage additional bloom. Reseeds in optimum growing conditions if flowers are not deadheaded.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gaillardia pulchella is a hairy annual wildflower that is native to dry open places with sandy soils from Virginia to Minnesota south to Florida, Arizona and Mexico. Steyermark lists this species as a central Missouri native, but suggests that the Missouri populations may primarily be the result of garden escape. Typically grows 12-18” (less frequently to 24”) tall on upright stems that are mostly leafless at the top. Daisy-like flowerheads (to 2” diameter) feature rays in shades of red, yellow or red/yellow bicolor, with contrasting darker center disks (usually purplish). Cultivars include some double-flowered forms and expand the available flower colors to include interesting shades of orange and maroon. Blooms late spring to fall. In areas where goldfinches are present, gardeners should consider leaving some spent flowerheads for the birds. Oblong to oblanceolate gray-green leaves (to 3” long). The sometimes common name of blanket flower is in probable reference to the resemblance of the rich and warm flower colors and patterns of species flowers to blankets woven by Native Americans. However, some authorities suggest this common name was originally in reference to the habit of wild species plants to form colonies that blanketed the ground.

Genus name honors Gaillard de Charentonneau, a French magistrate and patron of botany.

Specific epithet means pretty.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils, particularly during periods of protracted heavy summer rains. Watch for aphids and thrips.

Garden Uses

Mass plantings for beds and borders. Rock gardens. Naturalize in meadows, cottage gardens or native wildflower gardens. Containers.