Indian Blanket – Facts, Grow and Care

Indian Blanket Flower is a native annual (or short lived perennial) that is native to Southern and Eastern North America.  It has bright red blooms with accents of yellow and is great at attracting bees and butterflies to your garden.

Since it is not a perennial, you need to let it self-seed in your garden, or save seeds to start new plants each year.  If this isn’t your thing and you would rather just get a hardy variety, please check out the native-hybrid that is a perennial, Gaillardia Grandiflora.


  • Can be grown in USDA zones 2-11, check your USDA zone here
  • As it is an annual, it blooms for a long time, typically from early Summer until frost.
  • Can make a great cut flower that will produce nearly all season long
  • The common name Indian Blanket comes from the colors being similar to blankets made by Native Americans
  • Is a member of the Aster family
  • Indian Blanket was discovered in 1788

Physical Description

A short and somewhat compact plant, they are usually 1-2′ tall by 1/2 as wide.  There are generally multiple stalks with some branching, and flowers at the end of each stalk.

Stalk / Stem

Stalks are erect and stout.  They are round, and light/whitish-green in appearance.  There will be branching starting about 1/2 up the stalk.  Small hairs are present on the stalk.


Leaves are lance shaped, but rounded.  There are generally small hairs on them.  And they almost have a satin-like finish.  The color is generally light green.


Flowers occur at the end of stalks, and are 1-2″ diameter.  They will have both ray and disc flowers on a bloom, similar to Echinacea or a daisy.  The petals are primarily red, with yellow near the outside diameter.

Gaillardia pulchella bumble bee
The bees really love this flower!


Roots are shallow and fibrous.

Indian Blanket Reference Table
Common Name Indian Blanket, Firewheel, Blanket Flower
Scientific name Gaillardia pulchella
Bloom Time Early Summer until Fall
Bloom Duration 3-5 months depending on zone
Color Yellow/Red/Orange
Bloom Size 1 -2” diameter flowers (25-50 mm)
Characteristics Individual blooms at the top of stalks, sometimes more than one bloom per stalk.  Multiple stalks per plant – very showy
Height 1 -2’ tall (30-60 cm)
Spacing/Spread 1’ (30 cm)
Light Requirements Full sun to partial shade
Soil Types Any, as long as well drained
Moisture Dry to medium moisture
Maintenance None required, except pulling any unwanted seedlings
Typical Use Flower beds, meadows, micro-prairires
Fauna Associations Bees/Butterflies/Moths
Larval Host None
Sowing Depth Surface – just press into soil
Stratification 30 days cold stratification can improve germination.  But takes a long time to sprout (20-60 days, roughly)
Native Range USDA Zones 2-9 (not hardy though – an annual in most zones)

Indian Blanket Growing Conditions

Full sun will make Indian Blanket reach its full potential.  So, plant in full sun and well drained soil.  If planting in clay soil, ensure plenty of drainage by either amending with compost or planting on a slope.

They are commonly seed on roadsides in the South, particularly the Southwest.  However, their native range does extend to the Atlantic Ocean and up to Pennsylvania.  It is mainly a matter of moisture conditions as to whether this plant will thrive.bumble bee pollinating flower

How to care  for

No care is really required.  They are annuals that will die at the end of the season.  As long as you give Indian Blanket full sun and dry to medium moisture, it will thrive.

How to Establish Indian Blanket from Seed

The seed needs to be surface sown in early Spring.  Press into the soil, and maintain moist conditions.  Germination takes anywhere from a couple weeks to several months.

Garden Uses

These can make wonderful, colorful annual flowers to have in flower beds, meadows, border gardens.  They will provide colorful blooms for all summer until the temperature drops below freezing.  I’ve grown these in native plant gardens, and they look great if given the proper conditions and companion plants.  So, anywhere red/yellow will look nice, you can plant these for a stunning display.

How To Make a Micro-Prairie


These flowers are loved by bumble bees and smaller butterflies, like skippers.

Pests and diseases

I’ve never seen rabbit/deer damage on any of these plants that I have grown.  Nor have I seen disease.  But, I generally give them the conditions they like (drier, sunnier).


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Be sure to check out these other articles, I think you would find useful, as well:

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Our Simple Method to Compost

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