The blanket flower, which is also known as Gaillardia, is native to North America and especially common to the western part of the United States. It is a perennial plant that looks a lot like a daisy, with yellow-tipped red flowers. They are usually about 4 inches across (10 cm) and about 2.5 feet tall (0.7 meters). There are several different varieties of blanket flower, and each version has slightly different characteristics. Some of the people who first encountered the flowers thought the color was similar to certain Native American blankets, and that's how they got their common name.
Blanket flowers are generally quite tolerant of low rain levels. They also have no problems handling relatively poor soil with rocks or sand. The plants bloom from May to September, and they attract a lot of attention from insects, birds and butterflies. They are well-known for surviving up to 10 days after being cut.
It is easier to plant blanket flowers from seedlings, but it is also possible to grow the plants by sewing seeds. Most experts recommend planting blanket flowers about 16 inches (40 cm) apart. When starting with seedlings, it is generally wise to bury them about the same depth as the pot they come from. Most experts recommend the addition of fertilizer when planting and the reapplication of fertilizer on a monthly basis.
In general, the blanket flower doesn't do that well in overly moist soil. It is better for planters to choose a place with good drainage, and the plants do especially well on a slope, although that is not a requirement. Another important factor for individuals to consider is the level of sunlight. The plants do better in full sun than in shady spots.
While the plants are blooming from June through about September, individuals are generally advised to water them occasionally, but this is not necessarily required. Planters can trim back the blooms, and they will normally re-bloom again during the remainder of the season. Some experts recommend using a stake to stabilize the flowers as they grow, especially for certain varieties that are particularly tall.
In some localities, the blanket flower has been planted along the side of the roadways. These flowers are particularly good for this purpose because of their tolerance for full sun and low moisture. They are also frequently planted near the ocean for similar reasons, and they've even been successfully planted in desert environments. In all these cases, they provide a cosmetic enhancement to places that might normally lack color.