Gaillardia sp. (Blanketflower)
Gaillardia aristata

Zone: 3 to 9

Soil: Sand to clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Yellow and red

Bloom period: All summer

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Moisture: Dry to medium

Attracts: Bees and butterflies

Notes: Gaillardia have large bold flowers that are considered by some to be quite garish. However, if you want to splash your garden landscape with colour and you have well drained soil, then these flowers are for you. While the majority of the these plants are red-centred with yellow edges, there is some genetic variability within in each species and sometimes even purely orange flowers are observed. They are attractive to bumblebees and sweat bees. Gaillardia pulchella is a near-native introduced to Ontario while Gaillardia aristata is really a flower of the Western half of North America. They grow well in dry, sandy and sunny conditions and are long blooming.

Gaillardia should be treated like a short-lived perennial or an annual. In clay, they are likely to die of root rot over the winter, so harvest the seed every year. The weedy looking leaves are more than made up for by bicoloured flowers that look like they have been genetically engineered for size and colour.

The shorter Gaillardia aristata looks great towards the front of the border and is easily available in commercial nurseries. Gaillardia pulchella is harder to obtain. Gaillardia pulchella is the tallest of the three plants mentioned being up to 4 feet tall. However, in sandy soil it will more likely be 1-2 feet high. Gaillardia x grandiflora is a fertile hybrid of these two species and is also fairly short. Many different cultivars have been produced by crossing the two straight species mentioned here and they will probably not breed true. The straight species is preferred but some cultivars like 'Arizona Sun' can be attractive to pollinators. Unless you are trying to create your own hybrids it would wise to only plant one of these species in your garden. Due to their short life-span, some seed collecting is necessary to guarantee enough daughter plants. Keeps the seeds in a cool place until the spring and sprinkle them on the ground in places where you want them to grow. These plants will self-seed on their own to some extent.

Blanketflowers have it all: Eye-catching flowers; long blooms; and wildlife appeal. If you have a well drained soil, then surely you can find space for some of these.

Gaillardia aristata
Gaillardia aristata
Gaillardia aristata
Gaillardia pulchella with bumblebee
Gaillardia pulchella with a female Bombus bimaculatus
Gaillardia with Agapostemon virescens
Gaillardia with Agapostemon virescens
Gaillardia with Halictus
Gaillardia with Halictus ligatus
Gaillardia with milkweed
Gaillardia in combination with butterlfy weed.
Gaillardia with Bombus rufocinctus
Gaiilardia pulchella with Bombus rufocinctus