Native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora) grows in the wild along roadsides and overlooking seaside dunes. This herbaceous perennial often grown as an annual tolerates hostile conditions such as heat, full sun, salt spray and dry, sandy soil. Flowers appear in warm shades of red, orange, gold and bi-colors, and foliage consists of furry, silvery-gray leaves like many other drought-tolerant species. Blanket flowers require only minimal care and survive even when neglected.
Plant blanket flowers during spring after the risk of frost has passed. Select a location that receives full sunlight throughout the day and consists of well-drained soil of average to low fertility. Space blanket flowers 12 to 24 inches apart.
Water once every five to seven days during spring and summer to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Reduce watering frequency to once every 10 days during fall. Soak the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches at each application.
Feed blanket flowers once per year during mid-summer to bring about a second flush of flowers. Use a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer to provide proper nutrition for rapid growth and flower development. Use a bloom-boosting formula for the best results.
Remove faded and dead flowers after each blooming period to induce a second flowering period and improve the health and overall appearance of the plant. Pinch off the old blossoms by hand at their base to minimize damage and ease re-blooming.
Drive a wooden stake into the ground near blanket flowers if they begin to grow too tall to support themselves. Secure the flowers to the stake loosely with twine to hold them upright. Remove the stake when the plants die back.