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The Gaillardia Daisy: a Brilliant Abundance of Garden Color

The Gaillardia Daisy, also known as Blanket Flower, is a fun, color-popping perennial to add to your garden! While the beautiful, petite blooms resemble daisies, the Gaillardia Daisy is not actually a daisy at all. It is more closely related to a wildflower.

Closeup of a red and yellow Gaillardia daisy.

This flower is well known for its drought-tolerance, rich colors and long-lasting blooms. Let’s explore more of what makes this flower so special and why you may just want it in your garden!

History

The Gaillardia Daisy received its name from Maître Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th century French magistrate and avid botanist. The flower is native to the Southwestern United States, and it was actually one of the many flower varieties discovered by Lewis and Clark during their famous expedition in the early 1800s!

A yellow Gaillardia Daisy plant in a garden.

The Blanket Flower is a reference to the bright color patterns and textiles of different groups of Native Americans, which resemble the daisy-like flower. Native Americans also found medicinal uses to the Gaillardia Daisy by using it in teas to help gastrointestinal problems and different kinds of skin disorders.

Characteristics

Gaillardia Daisies have a mounding habit, often growing to two foot in height with a twenty inch spread. The repeat blooms range from different shades of red, orange and yellow, showing out from summer until fall.

Mass plantings of Gaillardia daisies.

The flower is a short-lived perennial, which means you can expect a life span of two to three growing seasons. It’s hardy from zones three through nine.

There are close to two dozen types of Gaillardia Daisies. Here are four of the most popular to consider:

  • Gaillardia Arizona series: red blooms with yellow tips on the petals
  • Gaillardia Burgundy: deep red blooms with pale yellow centers and waxy texture
  • Gaillardia Mesa series: red, yellow or peach blooms that are uniform in size
  • Gaillardia Fanfare series: red and yellow pinwheel-like blooms
Closeup of 'Fanfare" Gaillardia Daisy.
‘Fanfare’ Gaillardia daisy.

Growing The Gaillardia Daisy at Home

Why Grow the Gaillardia Daisy?

The good thing about the Gaillardia Daisy (besides the gorgeous colors) is that it’s easy to grow! It’s drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, deer-resistant, and a great companion plant. It’s also great for attracting pollinators such as butterflies, beneficial insects and small birds.

A red Gaillardia Daisy with a ladybug on the central disk.

Growing from Seed

You can start Gaillardia Daisy seeds indoors four to six weeks before your last annual frost date, or sow them outside once the threat of frost is gone. The flower often produces blooms on the first year when started from seed, so you can enjoy them right away!

Growth Requirements

The Gaillardia Daisy prefers poor soil and is not pH specific, so no amendments are needed. That’s what we like to hear! Just make sure the soil is well-draining, so it doesn’t hold water. The flower needs lots of sun, so that it doesn’t flop over. The more light, the better!

'Arizona Sun' Gaillardia Daisies.
‘Arizona Sun’ Gaillardia daisy.

When it comes to water, less is more. Upon planting, give your Gaillardia Daisy a good soak, then make sure the soil stays moist but not too wet. The Gaillardia is extremely drought-tolerant once established, so you don’t have to worry about watering your plant unless you go through a long dry spell.

Fertilizing

Since the Gaillardia Daisy prefers poor soil, go sparingly on fertilizer, or just skip it altogether! The plant will grow leggy and floppy if overfertilized.

Pruning / Deadheading

Deadheading (removing spent blooms) your plant will encourage it to rebloom throughout the season, but it’s not required.

Pruning the Gaillardia Daisy back to six inches in late summer will help it survive the winter. Since the perennial is short-lived, any effort to help it survive the winter will give it a longer life span.

'Mesa Red' Gaillardia Daisies.
‘Red Mesa’ Gaillardia daisy.

Uses for the Gaillardia Daisy

Bouquets

The long stems of the Gaillardia Daisy make it a great choice for cut flowers, so don’t skip it when creating a home arrangement from your perennial garden. You most likely won’t find this flower in a supermarket bouquet or at the wholesaler, so cutting it from your garden makes it even more special.

Just make sure to use sharp pruning shears when harvesting. Cut the flower at the base of stem to give you the longest stem to work with.

In a vase, the striking colors of this flower pair beautifully with sunflowers or zinnias, or use the softness of lilies and roses for a contrast. Since Gaillardia Daisies have smaller blooms, it provides visual variety to arrange it with larger flowers like dinner plate dahlias or hydrangeas.

Gaillardia Daisies in hanging glass vases made of lightbulbs.

Home Decor

The flower can be dried along with other wildflowers or perennial blooms to use in wax sachets or resin jewelry. These make perfect, homemade gifts for your family.

Press some of your favorite Gaillardia blooms by putting them in a book lined with newspaper or wax paper. Once they are pressed and dried, they can be used as a bookmark or framed against cardstock to create floral wall art. Framing dried blooms is a great way to display what you’ve grown! Be proud of your garden.

Where to Buy the Gaillardia Daisy

You can purchase seeds at most online seed distributors or flower depots more easily than finding a pre-potted plant for purchase. Purchasing seeds also allows you to be more selective on which variety of Gaillardia Daisy you want. Harris Seeds and American Meadows have several varieties available.

If you want a plant that is already established, check with your local nurseries to see if they have any on hand, or pay Nature Hills Nursery a visit online!

Companion Plants

With shades of yellow, red and orange, Gaillardia Daisies pair great with perennials that bloom in shades or blue, purple and pink such as:

  • Echinacea (cone-flower)
  • Phlox
  • Cosmos
  • Salvia
  • Yarrow
Closeup of orange coneflower.
Orange coneflower.

These companion plants are common and can be easily found at a local nursery or garden center.

Wrapping up the Gaillardia Daisy

With its dazzling, unique blooms and poor soil / drought-tolerance, the Gaillardia Daisy makes a great, low-maintenance addition to almost any perennial garden or border bed. If you want an easy to grow plant, look no further!

A single 'Mesa Red' Gaillardia Daisy.

To read more posts about daisies, check out our daises blog posts.