Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) – A Little History and Some Growing Instructions
Gaillardia, also known as Blanket Flower or the Firewheel, is native to the Americas. The plant is a member of the Aster family which also includes daisies and sunflowers. Gaillardia were one of the more than 200 plant varieties catalogued and described by Lewis and Clark during their famous expedition of 1804-1806. The plant is named for Gaillard de Charentonneau, a French magistrate who was a patron of botany.
Joseph Breck in his 1851 book, The Flower Garden, describes the gaillardia as, “A very handsome plant, naturally a perennial, but produces its flowers the first year from seed, if started early. It does not stand the winter without protection. It has large, beautiful crimson and yellow flowers in August; one to two feet high…The fine large blossoms…produce a very showy appearance, and render the plant well deserving a place in every flower-garden.”
In its wild state, the plant thrives in some of the harshest soils and climate conditions possible and yet produces some of the most vibrant and beautiful blossoms available in nature.
Gaillardias grow easily from seed and even though they are perennials will flower in their first year. Broadcast the seed over the soil and cover with no more than 1/2 inch of soil. Moisten slightly. The seeds will germinate in less than 14 days. Thin the plants to 6-8 inches. The plants deteriorate rapidly as they age, so separate clumps every three years to produce maximum blooms. Gaillardias are excellent reseeders. The plants begin to bloom in July and will continue until the first killing frost.