Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant that attracts butterflies and provides food for caterpillars. It gets its name from Antoine René Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who was also a naturalist and amateur botanist. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.
Gaillardias love the heat and can be grown as annuals, perennials and biennials, depending on whether they originate from North America or South America. Flowers can be solid or bi-colored. Some varieties have frilled, rolled or tubular petals and many have a ruffled appearance at their flower edges. Shorter gaillardia varieties make great pot plants, while taller ones work well as bedding plants and for a source of cut flowers.
Gaillardia varieties available to growers are certainly not as plentiful as echinacea, salvia and other well-loved genera, but in the past few years more options have become available. Try out some of these recent introductions:
Gaillardia Arizona Series (Benary) – first-year blooms from seed, no vernalization required, mounding habit with excellent branching
Gaillardia ‘Celebration’ (Plant Haven) – red form, single row of petals
Gaillardia ‘Fanfare Blaze’ (Plant Haven) – orange-red flowers, trumpeted petals, orange-red centers, good heat tolerance
Gaillardia Gallo Series (Green Leaf Plants) – compact flowers with a uniform canopy, good heat tolerance, excellent in containers
Gaillardia × grandiflora ‘Bright Bicolor’ (Green Leaf Plants) – bright-yellow flowers with a red-orange halo
Gaillardia ‘Mesa Peach’ (Kieft Seed) – early flowering gaillardia from seed, uniform habit, drought tolerant, non-fading color
Gaillardia Sunrita Series (Syngenta) – comes in Yellow, Orange, Burgundy, Yellow Red Ring, Red Yellow Tip
Gaillardia Sunset Collection (Plant Haven) – comes in both dwarf and medium collections, both collections have fringed edges and show good drought tolerance
Visit the National Garden Bureau website to learn more about the 2015 Year of Gaillardia program.