Simply The Best Natives-Blanket Flower


“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson



When I first discovered native plants, I was introduced to a lovely flower that reminded me of sunsets in the desert.  And this flower makes me smile when I see it blooming from late spring right up to a killing frost in fall.  

I knew it first as Blanket Flower, and later by its Latin name Gaillardia pulchella.  Sometimes called,  Firewheel or Indian Blanket, this flowering plant is part of the Aster family (Asteraceae), and closely related to Heleniums.

DSCN5463Gaillardia pulchella can be found in a widespread area in the US.  But in the Northeast, where I live, and along the Atlantic and in California it is naturalized and not necessarily native.  Its native range is from North Carolina to Florida and west to South Dakota, Colorado and Arizona.  It loves to grow in dry plains open roadsides and sandy prairies. 

In the late 1700s, Gaillardia pulchella was named for a French naturalist Antoine Rene Gaillard de Charentoneau who was a patron of botany.  Pulchella means “pretty” in Latin.


As I profile this wonderful native (naturalized) plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out her wonderful 2015 Spring Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.




Growing Conditions

Gaillardia pulchella acts like an annual or biennial as it is a short-lived perennial.  Left to self-seed it will continue to bloom and grow.  The flowers are fabulous to watch from when they begin to break bud DSCN9258until they become a seedhead.  The daisy flowers are 2 inches across with red-orange petals dipped in yellow.

The soft leaves are usually hairy and can be smooth edged or lobed.  It grows from from 1-3 feet high. When flowers begin to pop out just above the leaves, they are more yellow at first.

Gaillardias prefer full sun, and fast-draining, drier soil. And they seem to thrive in the heat with some rain.  In heavier soil, like my clay, they are said to rarely survive winter.  But many of mine do return especially if I create berms on top of the clay with lighter soil.  

DSCN7752Gaillardia has few insect or disease problems although they can get aster yellows, fungal leaf spot or powdery mildew. Sun and good air circulation will help reduce the possibility of these.  Many of mine grow well in part sun too although they are not as tall.

The best method to propagate is by casting seed, in fall, onto loose topsoil.  They germinate quickly in 1-2 weeks.




Benefits to Wildlife 

Native bees and butterflies love Gaillardia.  And they are host to lepidopteran butterflies/moths found in the plains and southwestern states.  

Deer and rabbits usually avoid these plants making Gaillardia welcome in my garden.





While Gaillardia leaves can cause contact dermatitis, they also have medicinal uses.  Gaillardia DSCN9081pulchella is being studied by cancer researchers because of its tumor-fighting qualities.

Gaillardia makes a great cut flower and seems to last a long time in the vase especially if picked before they are fully in bloom.  The plant will bloom endlessly and prolifically if clipped periodically.  Including them in a cutting garden is a must.

You’ll find Gaillardia pulchella in many wildflower seed mixes because they grow so easily and quickly in meadows and other open dry areas.  Gaillardias mix well with grasses, cool-colored flowers and gray foliage plants. 

2015 has been the year of the Gaillardia.




Folklore and Tales 

DSCN5908The common name of this flower is said to refer to the colorful patterned blankets made by Native Americans.  It was also said to refer to how this plant could blanket the ground with drifts of the flower. 

One Native American legend tells the story of when an excellent weaver died, her grave was covered with flowers as brilliantly colored as the blankets she made.

Native American peoples made tea from Gaillardia to treat gastroenteritis and sore eyes. The Kiowa considered it good luck.

In the Language of Flowers, Gaillardia symbolizes bravery.  They are brave in my garden as they weather many frosts and keep blooming.





frosted gaillardia collage


Do you grow a Gaillardia?  What do you love about this native flower?




Join In The Seasonal Celebration:

As I feel winter’s tickle, it tells me it is time to celebrate the coming of the new season. I know winter is not everyone’s favorite season, but I hope you will still join in Seasonal Celebrations. I welcome those Down Under who will be celebrating the coming of summer to join in too.  

The next Seasonal Celebration kick-off post is coming on November 30th.  

And as always, I will be collaborating with Beth@Plant Postings and her Lessons Learned meme at this same time.  What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere.  Write a separate post or combine your Lessons with your Celebrations for one post.




In A Vase On Monday  


Though we have had many frosts, and you can see the Gaillardia pulchella encased in ice above, they have not stopped blooming… killing frost yet.  So I was lucky enough to have some for a vase this week.   



I decided to combine them with yellow and red foliage in this wonderful green autumn vase. 




gaillardia vase collage

I used Clethra cuttings with yellow leaves and seedheads as well as pillar Barberry, Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’, that is turning from burgundy to bright red with berries.  




more gaillardias vase

And since there were more buds than flowers, I picked more Gaillardias and made a small vase with Pulmonaria leaves, still in the garden with burgundy Ajuga foliage.  For a bit of contrast color, are Scabiosa atropurpurea and Knautia macedonica still popping out a few flowers.


As the garden all but fades away, and the days are becoming colder, I wonder what will be in my vase next week.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.




RURAL Donna1

Check out the latest issue of RURAL, an on-line magazine which is the creation of Jen@ The Light Laughed.  You can read an excerpt of my story, Winter’s Gifts, in this Christmas/Winter issue of RURAL.  I am pleased to be featured in with so many creative and talented folks.  

I hope you will check out the lastest issue of this free online magazine.  You can subscribe to RURAL here.




Next up on the blog:  

Monday will bring the Seasonal Celebrations post kicking off the celebration of of the new season.  I hope you will join in. 

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday.



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

88 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Blanket Flower”

  1. Your vase looks amazing today, quite ethereal. The green vase itself positively glows in the image. Great that you could use the flower you were showcasing for the native series too.

    1. It is one of my favorite vases…it glows with so many flowers….wasn’t it amazing that this same flower I am profiling is still flowering.

  2. Good morning, the blanket flowers do remind me of a pretty sunset sky. They are one of my favorite flowers. Lovely vase and arrangement.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  3. Donna, your vase today is so lovely, my favorite yet. I’ve not had much luck with Gaillardia so it was interesting to learn it’s considered native here in NC. I should try it again.

  4. I love all the wildflowers that grow in our area and tend to take photos of them when I’m on my walk. It’s another blessing – a flower we’re given without any work on our part. These are just beautiful.

  5. they are a pretty flower Donna, daisies are my favourite flowers, I love the story of the blanket weavers grave, how lovely, my garden is much too cool and wet for them, so I enjoyed seeing yours, Frances

  6. Such autumnal colours. Donna – your pale green vase looks lovely with them, emphasising the fading colour of the leaves. Sadly gaillardia has never lasted more than a season for me… 🙁

  7. I’ve fallen in love with Gaillardia since I began gardening in my current location. In fact, I just bought a few more plants (‘Goblin’ and ‘Gallo Yellow’) this weekend during a nursery crawl. Your photo of the flower encased in ice is beautiful!

  8. You’re inspiring me to try gaillardia again, something that hasn’t lasted in my gardens beyond the first year. I’m thinking of redoing my front beds that get a lot of sun, they might work there.
    I like your using Clethra and barberry foliage in your vase. They work well with the blanket flower. Your photos of frosted flowers are beautiful!

  9. After reading this wonderful posting, I feel gaillardia may thrive here if planted in one of the lasagna beds I built on top of the clay soil. I’ve added it to my ever-lengthening Spring 2016 list. Is gaillardia a good plant to start indoors from seed, Donna? Your exquisite green vase is perfect for this arrangement. Lovely. P. x

    1. Thanks Pam….I bet the new beds would accommodate gaillardia. My research has shown they prefer to be started outdoors in fall so if you do start them indoors they may need some cold stratification.

  10. Blanket flower was the one thing that persisted past the first couple of years from a wildflower mix of long ago. Why do we tend to overlook the things that require almost no attention to thrive?

  11. Oh, I absolutely loved your vase today. It had such an ephemeral quality. I don’t know if I’ve seen you do anything quite like that. Wonderful choice of flower too. I do grow gaillardia, they do well in my full sun perennial bed. They are always reliable and sturdy and such a happy flower. I appreciate Rickii’s question: why would we overlook the simple ones?
    Love and Thanksgiving to you Donna.
    I don’t have a vase per se, but pumpkins we grew and a cherry plant:

  12. I grew Gaillardia once upon a time – I suppose I would have plant them every summer. They probably won’t survive New Jersey winters. The photos with frost are really something.

    1. My winters are far worse Leora and it lasts here so they would do just fine in your garden…and if you let them seed a bit, you wouldn’t have to plant them every year.

  13. Such an excellent choice of wildflower to profile! A favorite of mine, I can’t grow it because my garden is too shady, but I certainly enjoy the roadside show in late spring/early summer here in Texas! Lovely photos!

  14. Your plant profile is wonderful. I admire Gillardia but have never grown it myself. Your arrangement is gorgeous. The soft focus is perfect to capture the idea of fog in autumn. Heading on over to RURAL to read your piece!

  15. Your Gaillardias are lovely, Donna, how wonderful that they are still blooming for you in spite of frosts, along with the Scabiosa and Knautia. I have Tokajer, I should go see if they are up to any last gasps. I also started Goblin last fall, but it did not bloom. I looked and saw the plants sitting there, flat to the ground, so hopefully they will survive winter and bloom next year. I am getting seed for a new low-growing variety, Arizona Sun, that I hope will bloom next year. I hadn’t read up on their medicinal uses, I will have to look them up.

  16. I planted Gaillardia when I first started gardening, but it didn’t survive. I’m realizing now that is probably because it is short-lived and I was too eager to deadhead. I may try it again; it should love my sandy soil.

  17. You always delight with your posts Donna. Another gorgeous selection and how happy I am that you share them with Today’s Flowers. One happy camper here, thank you!!! 🙂

  18. It’s lovely to see so many colourful flowers are still available for cutting Donna. Love the vases, and your photo of the frost-kissed Gaillardia especially.

  19. I have it in the garden too, but as you mentioned, it is short lived. Too much clay for its liking. Snow happened here as well. It is that time of year again!

    1. I am shocked at how little snow we have had so far compared to other years…could the forecasts for a warmer winter be right? 🙂

  20. I love gaillardia and used to grow it a lot when I lived down south. So pretty! I’m a little more hesitant to grow it here in my current garden, though, due to the wet winters. I don’t think it would make it through unless, like you, I made it a special site. They look so lovely in your vase! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    1. My garden is as wet or wetter and cold so with your sandier soil I bet gaillardia would do fine in your garden as long as they get loads of sun like in a hellstrip.

  21. An interesting and informative post on Gaillardia. ‘ Pulchella’ is a good name as it really is very pretty. I didn’ t know it was so long lasting. I love your arrangement, so pretty.

  22. Hi, Donna! I love your vase, especially the last one. I know Gaillardia as well and have grown it but very successful. Its flowers are very colorful.
    Happy belated Thanksgiving!

  23. Oh definitely one of my fav’s I’ve got quite a collection of little beauties…they barely need any water, and take all the punishing sunlight our climate gives them. What more can I ask for…delightful.


  24. I’m afraid we here on the Texas Gulf Coast take the Gallardia quite for granted. It is a common roadside and field flower. I’ve never had any in my garden but I really should, especially if the bees and butterflies like it. Thank you for your always informative and beautiful posts.

    1. OH you should Florence…such a beauty. The gaillardia there are like goldenrod here…everywhere and taken for granted. So glad you enjoyed the post!

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