Blanket Flower –
Gaillardia aristata, commonly known as Blanket Flower, is a valued plant because of its very long bloom season. Blanket Flowers are valuable for their very long season of bloom. The Arizona Sun cultivar will bloom extensively even during the first year. Forming low, compact mounds, the flower blooms are large orange-flame daisies with tips that are golden. Blooming from early June until the first frost, Gaillardia aristata thrives in a hot, sunny location. Once established, these plants are very drought tolerant and attract all types of beneficial insects. Most people like to keep the faded blooms intact for added texture in their garden. However, removing the faded blooms will encourage even more blooming. Avoid planting in heavy clay. Instead, be sure to pick up some extra compost to ensure a well-drained soil.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this plant all season.
Full sun and very well-drained soil are musts for blanket flowers to thrive. They prefer loose, sandy soil that isn’t overly fertile with a pH near neutral or slightly alkaline. Established plants are quite drought tolerant.
Container grown plants can be set out throughout the growing season, but spring or fall planting is ideal. Space dwarf cultivars about a foot apart; taller varieties should be set about 18 inches apart. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
Deadhead plants regularly to encourage more flowering. Blanket flowers are often relatively short-lived. Cutting back clumps to 6 inches in late summer often increases their chances of winter survival. You can also keep your plants vigorous by dividing them every 2-3 years in spring or early fall. Water newly set out or divided plants regularly until they become established. Blanket flowers have few insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids and leafhoppers that can spread a virus-like disease called aster yellows. Control insects with insecticidal soap, if needed, and destroy any plants that are stunted with flowers that remain green, as these are infected with aster yellows.
Lamb’s-ears – Lamb’s-ears provides a silvery soft blanket beneath the showy blanket flower blooms and enjoys the same cultural conditions.
Veronica – The upright spikes of vibrant ‘Crater Lake Blue’ veronica complement the sometimes-gaudy daisies of blanket flower. Both thrive in sunny spots.
Salvia – Blue salvia is long-blooming with silvery green leaves and long spikes of bright blue flowers. This partnership glows over many weeks.
Hyssop – Orange-flowering types of hyssop, with their airy flower spikes, provide a delicate foil for the blanket flowers, repeating the same color family but with a lighter texture.
Coreopsis – The fine-textured foliage of thread-leaf coreopsis provides a refined contrast to blanket flowers, while its smaller yellow daisy flowers echo the shape and color.