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The genus Gaillardia (gay-lard-ee-uh), a member of the Asteaceae (aster) family, includes annuals, biennials, and perennial varieties. Native plants are typically showy daisy-like flower heads of red, yellow or red/yellow bicolor rays with contrasting darker center disks (usually purplish). Cultivars now include double-flowered forms and shades of orange and maroon.

From early summer, butterflies may blanket the striking three-colored flowers which resemble the colors commonly found in Indian blankets. But, they get their name from how they use to blanket North America prairies with their blooms. This native cultivar can still be found in fields, prairies and into the Rockies.

Except for heavy clay, Gaillardia will grow in average to poor, well-drained soils; and tolerates dry soils and drought, once established. However, they will perform best in moist organic well-drained soils, but we recommend limited enrichment of the soil with compost or ingredients, Heat tolerant.

Attributes: Border plants, Container, Cut flower, Dried flower, Drought Tolerant, Mass Planting, Salt Tolerant. Great in rock gardens, it attracts butterflies and is deer resistant.

PLANTING: Set plants 12 to 15 inches apart. Choose a full sun location where the soil is of a light to medium character. Gaillardia readily grows in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils. While performing best with regular moisture, in organically rich soil, blanket flowers will tolerate drought. Heavy clay soils that do not drain well and wet winter soils could be lethal, as Gaillardias are not likely to survive the winter in heavy clay soils.

MAINTENANCE: Do not over water. If flowering declines, shear plants to encourage additional bloom. Some varieties will self-seed in optimum growing conditions, if flowers are not deadheaded; unless birds, especially goldfinches feed on the seeds. Seedlings may not be true to type. Divide as needed to prevent overcrowding, every 2 to 3 years; and do so in the spring.