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Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata Pursh) is a native, perennial, tap-rooted wildflower with showy, yellow ray flowers and reddish-brown central disk flowers. The pubescent plants vary from 10 to 24 inches in height. Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and are 3 to 6 inches long with margins that are coarsely-toothed and deeply divided. Blanketflower grows on sunny, well-drained sites in prairie meadows up to grassy openings in the mountains. It has an extensive bloom period beginning in early summer.
It does well on a variety of soil types, including loams to rocky to gravelly-sandy textures; and tolerates a soil pH range from slightly acidic to mildly alkaline. Blanketflower attains optimum growth in full sun, beginning in early spring until seed set in late summer. It occurs at elevations from 1,300 to 9,000 ft.
Blanketflower is a native perennial wildflower useful for adding species diversity in native plant seed mixes for rehabilitation of disturbed sites. It can be used in producing native wildflower sod for restoration of native plant colonies. Blanketflower is suitable for use as an ornamental wildflower in low maintenance or naturalistic landscapes. It has utility as a cover and food source for pollinators, wildlife, and livestock.
Blanketflower may be grown from seed or division of vegetative parts. The seed does not require cold stratification treatment to break dormancy. For range plantings, seed should be planted into a firm, weed-free seedbed, preferably with a mechanical drill that will ensure uniform seed placement depth of ¼- to ½-inch. There are approximately 220,700 seeds in one pound of blanketflower. The full seeding rate is 5 pounds pure live seed/acre, but it would seldom be seeded in a pure stand. It is recommended that blanketflower be included as a component of a native seed mixture at a rate not to exceed ½ to 1 pound pure live seed/acre. When used in a mix, adjust the seeding rate to the desired percentage of mix. Spring seeding is preferred over late summer or dormant, fall planting dates.
Blanketflower is tolerant of drought and requires supplemental moisture only during extended hot and dry conditions. Periodic mowing during the establishment year is one option for weed suppression.
Pests and Potential Problems
Blanketflower has no serious insect or disease problems. Root rot may be a problem in poorly drained soils, especially during extended periods of heavy rain. Powdery mildew may be present at times of elevated humidity, but usually does not have a long-term negative impact on the plants. The species generally is susceptible to aster yellows and fungal leaf spot disease. Gaillardia is slightly susceptible to oat blue dwarf virus.
Plant description via USDA-NRCS Plant Database, Plant Fact Sheet: Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata