Gaillardia got its common name of blanket flower from the way it used to blanket the American plains in color during summer and fall. Blanket flower is native to the American plains and is a hardy plant able to tolerate cold and heat. Hardy in zones 2 through 9, blanket flowers don't need much in the way of winter protection provided they have been planted correctly. Blanket flowers thrive in poor soils with good drainage in full suns. Blanket flowers are not long-lived perennials; in fact many gardeners treat them as annuals, allowing the plant to reseed itself every year or starting new seed every spring. Plants should be divided every 2 to 3 years or when the interior becomes woody and flowering decreases.
Cut your blanket flower back to 6 inches in early to mid fall after the plant has stopped flowering. If you have enough space, leave one or two flowers and allow them to reseed. Only do this if you are growing a species rather than a cultivar as the seeds will not come true (will not resemble the parent or have the same characteristics) for cultivars.
Divide 2- or 3-year-old plants by digging up the parent plant. Use your shovel or pruning shears to divide the plant into 3 or 4 pieces and replant. (Discard the woody central portion.) Plant at the same depth it was growing in the same conditions. (full sun, well-drained soil). Space plants 3 to 4 feet apart.
Loosely cover the plant with straw. Straw keeps the soil evenly moist, and prevents frost heaving (periods of cold weather followed by warm weather which exposes roots to the air).
Things You Will Need
- Pruning shears
- Planting your blanket flower correctly will help ensure its survival over the winter.
- Avoid planting blanket flowers in areas where the soil becomes soggy during the winter. Soggy soils can lead to root or crown rot.
- Allow your blanket flower to reseed itself to eliminate the need to winterize the parent plant.
- The fuzzy hairs that cover blanket flower's leaves may cause skin irritation and rashes in some people. Wearing gloves and long sleeved shirts will prevent this.
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