The natural habitat of the blanket flower trends from the United States to South America. The plant genus belongs to the family of the asters. Through selection and cultivation, a whole range of different varieties have emerged. The stature heights of this pretty and durable cut flower range from 30 to 70 cm (12 to 28 inches). Blanket flowers are very popular in beds and borders and are ideal as an eye-catcher in a colorful summer bouquet. The blanket flower is also suitable for the bucket.
Profile of blanket flower:
Scientific name: Gaillardia, Gaillardia aristata
Plant family: asters or daisy family (Asteraceae)
Gaillardia aristata → common blanket flower, common gaillardia
Gaillardia pulchella → firewheel, Indian blanket, Indian blanketflower, sundance
Sowing time / Planting time: April – May
Flowering period: July – October
Soil quality: sandy, nutrient rich
Use in/as: cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of blanket flower
Plant order, origin and occurrence of blanket flower
The large-flowered blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) is a tireless summer flower that shows its wonderfully colorful flowers for many months of the year. This pleases not only garden owners, even insects find so reliable food. The short-lived hybrid, which rarely gets older than four years, arose from a hybridization of the bushy Gaillardia grandiflora and the annual Gaillardia pulchella. Both are originally from the sunny and dry steppe and grasslands of North and South America.
Characteristics of blanket flower
The blanket flower forms a rosette of basal leaves and grows very bushy and dense. The stems reach heights between 15 and 75 cm (6 and 30 inches). In addition, the herbaceous perennial has upright shoots, on which the leaves are arranged alternately, and pedunculated single flowers.
The leaves of the blanket flower are arranged in rosettes. The leaves are entire, toothed or lobed, also lanceolate. The leaf color is green.
The flowering period of the blanket flower lasts from July to October. Throughout these months, the perennial shows with large attractive flower baskets (up to 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter) and bright colors predominantly in yellow, orange or red. The center of the flower petals is violet, yellow, brown or also red colored. While the leaf tips, for example are colored bright yellow, usually a nice contrast to the actual petals is formed. The flowers are terminal on upright stems and serve numerous insects as a source of nectar.
Blanket flower – cultivation and care
The location in the field should be sunny to partially shaded. The darker the spot, the fewer flowers will show up. Since the stems break very quickly in the wind, the blanket flower should also be protected from the wind. The ideal location is a place close to walls or house walls. This provides plant protection and at the same time facilitates wintering, as the soil on walls is less susceptible to frost.
When planting, you must also pay attention to the soil quality. The plants do not tolerate heavy loamy soil. A soil loosening by the introduction of sand can help here. A loose and nutritious soil is the basis for healthy plants and a rich flowering. The soil should always be moist, but the plant does not tolerate waterlogging. Drainage can help improve soil quality.
The best planting season for blanket flowers is in the spring after the last frosty days. Do not lower the flowering shrub into the bed as it was previously sitting in its planter. Planted in a group a planting distance of about 30 cm (12 inches) is advisable. Water the blanket flower vigorously after planting.
The best way to do this is as follows:
- select a sunny location.
- loosen heavy soils with sand or compost.
- Excavate the planting hole about 15 cm (6 inches) larger than the perennial circumference.
- keep a distance of about 40 cm (15 inches) between the plants.
- carefully place the plant in the planting hole. At the same time, protect the roots.
- finally mulch the bed to ensure even moisture.
- after planting you must water the plant vigorously. However, be careful as waterlogging is prohibited.
The most important thing in the care of blanket flowers is a rigorous pruning in autumn. Cut the flower shoots to just above the ground. Only in this way does the plant develop new shoots, which it needs for wintering. A light frost protection is nevertheless advisable in colder regions. The flowers of the blanket flower should be regularly cut.
Do not forget the watering, but it should be done with caution, because waterlogging must be avoided. Therefore, you need to provide drainage or choose an elevated location. Never water the blanket flowers in full sunlight. The best watering times are in the morning and in the evening. In case of prolonged drought, watering may be necessary several times a day.
In order for the blanket flower to bloom abundantly, plenty of nutrients are needed. If you give a long-term fertilizer in the spring, the plant will be supplied with sufficient nutrients for the following months. Commercially available liquid fertilizers should be added to the irrigation water approximately every two to three weeks. It is best to administer a mineral-organic fertilizer with guano. Generally it is a good idea to add some compost to the soil instead of liquid fertilizer.
The propagation of the plants is possible without a problem. Larger plants can be easily part with a spade. This is best done in the spring so that the new plants have enough time to grow well in the summer. The sharing of the plants should not be missed, because blanket flowers grow rampant very much and than do not flower plenty.
Even seeds can be used to propagate the plants. With annual varieties it is advisable to keep the seeds and to cultivate new seedlings. It is important to note this:
- grow plants in the house from March
- planting soil should be moist, but not wet
- germination time at room temperature: 10 to 14 days
- from mid-May, the plants can go outdoors.
Perennial species are not really robust when it comes to wintering. Many plants rot under the protective layer very easily. A winter protection from brushwood, leaves or mulch is necessary. To prevent a possible rottenness, you can also use garden fleece as winter protection. Do not over-attach the cover to make it possible to create warming air posters underneath.
They will be well equipped for the winter if you prune them completely after the flowering period and cutting back the newly formed leaves only in the spring.
Diseases and pests
Even if the care for the blanket flower is rather limited, the plant is not always spared from pests and diseases. Diseases caused by a wet location come quite often. Then it can lead to mold and the plants begin to rot. Too much shade will cause the plant to generally fall short in its growth power and produce few flowers. Downy mildew can also occur on the perennials.
Use in the garden
Blanket flowers develop their full beauty only as a group. Put four to five plants in a bed. They are the ideal planting for rockeries, sunny perennial beds or colorful wild flower gardens. In gardens, where emphasis is placed on natural design and bee pastures, the colorful permanent bloomers should not be missed. Good planting partners are for example sage, coneflower or the large-flowered tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora). Higher growing varieties are very suitable as colorful cut flowers for the vase, moreover as they continue blooming very long (6 to 8 weeks is possible)