Gaillardia is one of the showiest of all border plants, bearing huge, daisy-type flowers in vivid shades of yellow, red, and orange. Most gaillardias are hardy perennials but there are a few annual varieties. Single-flowered types are attractive to pollinators. Gaillardias flower their socks off from summer to autumn on stout stems up to 75cm high, above basal clumps of grey-green leaves. Gaillardia is native to North America and its common name, blanket flower, is said to have come from the central boss of the flower resembling the colourful blankets woven by some Native Americans. Its botanical name is derived from the name of a patron of botany in the 18th century, Madame Gaillard de Charentonneau.
How to grow gaillardia
Grow gaillardia in a sunny border or large pot, in free-draining, low nutrient soil (there’s no need to add fertiliser). Once established, gaillardias are tolerant of drought. Both annual and perennial gaillardias are easy to grow from seed or you can buy perennial types as plants. Gaillardias need little care apart from deadheading to encourage more blooms and cutting back at the end of the season. Perennial gaillardias are hardy but may be short-lived, particularly in cold areas or after wet winters.
Growing gaillardia: jump links
Where to grow gaillardia
Grow gaillardia in a sunny spot in free-draining soil. On heavy ground such as clay, try growing gaillardia in raised beds, planting on small mounds of soil to prevent the rootball becoming saturated, or adding grit.
How to plant
Gaillardias perform best in low nutrient soil, as rich soil encourages lots of leafy growth at the expense of flowers. It’s therefore important not to add organic matter to the planting hole when planting gaillardia. Perennial gaillardias are best planted in spring so they can establish before summer droughts and winter cold. Space plants 30-60cm apart and keep watered until established. Harden off (gradually acclimatise to outside growing conditions) gaillardias grown from seed before planting out in late spring.
How to care for gaillardia
Gaillardia is easy to grow and requires little care. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more to form, and then cut all stems back to the ground once flowering is over. Remember gaillardias do best in nutrient-poor soil so it’s best not to fertilise or mulch as you would with other perennials.
How to propagate gaillardia
Both annual and perennial gaillardias are easy to grow from seed. Perennials usually flower in their first year if seed is started off in early spring under cover. Sow perennial seed thinly in pots or trays of seed compost with added perlite to increase drainage. Transplant into individual pots to grow on and plant out when sufficiently large. Annual gaillardias can be sown in modular trays for easy transplanting or in the soil directly where they are to bloom.
Take root cuttings of perennial gaillardias in late-winter to early spring.
Growing gaillardia: problem solving
Given the right growing conditions, gaillardia is a trouble-free plant. In very dry summers, powdery mildew may appear on the leaves and stems, which may then die back. Cut off and bin affected material to restrict the spread of this disease.
Slugs can damage newly emerged growth and seedlings.
Advice on buying gaillardia
- A wide range of gaillardias is available to buy from garden centres and nurseries. Look for seed, potted plants in a range of sizes, and plug plants
- Bear in mind that you may find more choice at specialist retailers
Where to buy gaillardia
Gaillardia varieties to grow
Gaillardia ‘Mesa Bright Bicolour’ – long flowering season, with bright orange-yellow blooms with red centres.
Height x Spread: 60cm x 45cm
Gaillardia aristata ‘Goblin’ – Beautiful yellow-tipped red flowers with a large red central cone.
H x S: 30cm x 45cm
Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Arizona Apricot’ – sward variety with yellow flowers blushed with apricot.
H x S: 30cm x 45cm
Gaillardia aristata ‘Burgundy’ – large, wine-red flowers in tall stems.
H x S: 60cm x 45cm