Plant Indian Blanket Seeds (Gaillardia pulchella) for a Variety of Butterflies
Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), aka Firewheel and Blanket Flower, is one of the easiest perennial wildflowers to establish. Its gorgeous 1-2″ red, yellow, pinkish, bronze blooms provide nectar for many butterflies and other pollinators– especially native bees. The color patterns of the flowers resemble designs found in native American Indian blankets – thus their name.
This is one of those robust natives that are great for any butterfly garden, providing flowers all summer long! It is the Oklahoma State wild flower.
Characteristics Of Blanket Flower
Indian blanket is widespread through the Great Plains and the Southwest. This variety of Indian blanket is generally considered to be an annual that readily self-sows to form expanding patches that return year after year. Some of these plants may overwinter as short-lived perennials in zones 5-9. It can be grown as an annual in zones 2-11.
Blanket Flower is probably one of the easiest wildflowers to grow IF it has excellent drainage. Loose, well-drained soil, is a must. Full sun is ideal, however, light shade is tolerated. It flourishes in heat and tolerates drought and poor soil conditions. Very little fertilizer is needed. Firewheel will grow in containers if your garden soil does not meet its requirements.
G. pulchella grows up to two feet tall, with flowers 1-2” in diameter. It begins blooming in mid-spring, and will sport bright flowers through the summer and well into fall. As with most plants, dead-heading encourages more blooms and prevents heavy reseeding but if you have goldfinches in your area you may want to leave some flower heads for them as they enjoy the seeds.
How To Start Indian Blanket Seeds
No matter which zone you’re in, Indian blanket seeds can be planted in the spring as long as the temperature is at least 60°F. Remove excess vegetation from your garden soil, and smooth it out with a rake. Then casually toss the seeds across the dirt, the seeds need light to germinate. They look a bit like baby dandelions when they start to come up so be sure not to pluck them up!
In cooler zones, it’s better to start seeds indoors, a month to six weeks before the last frost. Surface sow in a warm location, around 70°F. One-two weeks later, seedlings will emerge. Plant outdoors after last frost.
Indian Blanket provides a lot of beauty for little maintenance – Plant a blanket of Indian Blankets to attract Butterflies to your Garden!