The blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora) is one of the best-known flowering perennials in the garden. These colorful plants are also called painter’s or parrot flower. She comes from North and Central America and also feels at home in our climate. There are numerous types. Some are annual, but many are perennial. The flowers of the cockade flower are particularly beautiful. The bold colors, most of which glow in shades of yellow, red and orange, can be seen from afar. Hybrids are mostly found in our gardens. The plants reach heights of between 30 and 80 cm, depending on the species and variety. Blanket flowers bloom between June and October. The compact, bushy perennials are rewarding and easy-care garden flowers. They are also suitable as cut plants and last up to 14 days.


Blanket flowers are quite easy to care for. They convince with many flowers in strong colors. If you regularly remove faded flowers, new flowers will develop again and again. These are well accepted by insects. Bumblebees, bees, butterflies and many other insects regularly visit the blanket flower. A warm location and a substrate that is not too heavy or too nutrient-rich are important. Water is needed during drought and fertilizer is also good for rich flowering. Otherwise there is not much to do. In order to get the blanket flower safely through the winter, it is advisable to cover the perennials with brushwood in late autumn. That doesn’t always help, but you should try.


Blanket flowers need a sunny and warm location. Although a sunny to partially shaded spot is often recommended, sun is clearly better. Individual varieties, especially new hybrid breeds, absolutely need sun. A wind-protected location is recommended, especially for the slightly taller varieties, so that the stems do not bend. A sheltered spot is especially important in winter. Planting the blanket flower near a warm wall is ideal.

  • As sunny and warm as possible
  • Sheltered location, as close as possible to a protective wall (important in winter)
  • In cool, rainy summers, the flowers are often sparse, so the best location is of no use.

plant substrate

It is important for the blanket flower that the substrate is not too dry, but not too wet either. It should be nutritious, despite permeability.

  • Light soils, which are nevertheless rich in nutrients
  • Loose and humus rich soil is ideal
  • Heavy loamy soil should be loosened with sand.
  • Heavy soil is bad for overwintering as it stays wet for too long.
  • It is best to mulch the soil so that it remains slightly moist


You can plant the cockade flower all year round, except when there is frost. However, you won’t be able to buy them for long. Homegrown plants are only placed outside after the ice saints. Purchased specimens are usually available during flowering and can be planted immediately.

  • planting in May
  • If necessary, tie up stems or erect a scaffold.
  • Planting distance about 30 cm
  • If the soil is too moist and/or too heavy, it often helps to plant the perennial a little higher up, so to speak on a small mound of earth, not at ground level. The water can drain well.
  • Mix in compost when planting.

watering and fertilizing

You should water regularly, but not too much. Drought is better tolerated than wet. Established plants cope quite well with dry soil. Potted plants need significantly more water than specimens planted out. Standing water must be avoided at all costs. If the soil is too moist, it is advisable to plant the perennial slightly higher so that excess water can drain off.

  • Absolutely avoid waterlogging.
  • Waterlogging kills plants, especially in winter.
  • Long-term fertilizer at the beginning of the season or liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks in the irrigation water
  • Fertilizers containing guano are favorable for rich flowering

To cut

A cut is only necessary in autumn. However, it is advisable to remove faded flowers regularly. Experts often recommend different options for autumn pruning. It’s best to try it out for yourself.

  • If wilted ones are removed regularly, the bloom lasts all summer long. The plant then puts its energy into the formation of new flowers and not into the formation of seeds.
  • The lifespan of a blanket flower can be extended by pruning the perennial back in September. If you are lucky, new flowers will develop before winter, but in any case strong foliage.
  • It is often recommended to cut the cockade flower hand high and cover it in November. However, while researching the subject, I repeatedly read that many flower lovers do not cut the leaves and leave them as they are. This is also a winter protection. They cut in September and then no more. Most of them have fewer problems with hibernation.
  • Otherwise you cut at the beginning of budding, depending on the year from the end of February.


Blanket flowers are actually only moderately hardy. But you should try to get them through the winter and to bloom again. That is why it is better to cover the cockade flowers a little. In cold regions, the cockade flower absolutely needs an airy winter protection, preferably made of spruce branches. Foliage is unsuitable, rot often occurs under it.

It often depends on the species or variety whether the blanket flower comes through the winter well and unscathed. Some do it better than others. It is best to put a few seeds of the plants aside in order to have similar plants in the garden again next year.
However, I have also read that many garden owners were amazed that blanket flowers are not said to be hardy. You have absolutely no problems with it. The plants reliably sprout again every year. I think it’s a combination of blanket flower variety, location, growing medium and conditions during the winter. I don’t have any of these busy bloomers in the garden, but I’ll try it myself next year.


The cockade flower can be propagated very easily by division. You have to do that regularly anyway. If the plant’s willingness to flower dwindles or it’s bare from the inside out, sharing is a good way to stop it. Dig up the plant in spring and split the root ball in half with a spade. The two pieces are then buried again. The soil should be enriched with compost.

Another type of propagation is sowing. The plants bloom in their first year. You put about 10 together to form a perennial or small tuffs. However, the flowers also multiply themselves, sometimes profusely.

  • Advance from March
  • Direct sowing from mid-May
  • Germination time 7 to 14 days
  • Lots of light
  • Nice and damp, but not wet

diseases and pests

Blanket flowers are quite hardy and healthy plants. They are largely spared even from snails. Aphids can occur but rarely become a serious problem. Fungal spores are worse. You should take action against them in good time. Most failures of these beautiful perennials are in winter. In spring the plant has simply disappeared and no longer sprout.

  • Aphids – rinsing off is usually enough. Beneficial insects like the ladybug help to contain the pests.
  • Powdery mildew and downy mildew – some ladybird species graze on the fungal lawn. Cut off affected plant parts. Agents containing nitric acid and silicic acid help in a natural way. They are sprayed on the affected flowers.
  • Rust fungi – fungicides, sulphurous agents


Hybrid varieties are best. They usually survive the winter very well.

  • Annual Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) – annual only
  • Burgundy – Deep red to burgundy single flowers with a slightly darker center
  • Kobold – bright red flowers with a thick yellow ring around them
  • Arizona Sun – red flowers with a medium wide yellow ring around them
  • Cottage garden – red flowers with a yellow center
  • Tokaj – bright orange flowers
  • Fancy Wheeler – dwarf variety with a red flower, red center and yellow border
  • Orange and Lemons – light orange with yellow tips
  • Amber Wheels – Golden yellow flowers with an amber center
  • Arizona Apricot – apricot-colored flowers with a slightly darker center
  • Arizona Red Shades – Bright orange halo with a fiery red center
  • Fanfare – red flowers in a bizarre shape with a yellow center
  • Gallo – dark red petals with a wide yellow border and dark red center with a yellow dot in the middle
  • Sunburst – bright yellow flowers
  • Sundance Color – annual, unusually shaped mahogany red flowers with yellow centres
  • Aristata – large yellow-orange-red flowers

 There are great varieties and new ones appear every year. In principle, the perennials only have one disadvantage. They are not reliably hardy. They often disappear over the winter and simply no longer sprout in the spring. That’s sad, but you can insure yourself against it. It’s easy. Some flowers are allowed to mature after they have faded. The seeds are sown from March, practically pull them ahead and plant the young plants in the garden from mid-May. These usually flower in the same year. This is how you can do it every year and always have beautiful blanket flowers. However, it can happen that the new copies are not 100 percent the same as the old ones. You usually don’t get identical plants by sowing. You can only do that by sharing.

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