Gaillardia is more commonly known as blanket flower and produces daisy-like flowers all summer long. The short-lived perennial blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora) tends to reseed prolifically. There are several schools of thought about preparing blanket flower for winter. Some gardeners feel pruning blanket flower plants back and mulching is the way to go. Others do not prune, but deadhead, and do not mulch. Let’s discuss how to winterize blanket flower.
Preparing Blanket Flowers for Winter
The daisy-like heads, with their zing of color and prolific growth habit, are an excellent addition to any perennial garden or container. The majority are grown in sunset hues with some sporting brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows. The foliage is grayish green and slightly hairy, usually about knee high.
Blanket flower starts readily from seed and will produce larger and larger patches of the flower over the seasons just from seed. The plant prefers excellent drainage and hot sunny locations in the garden. It will die back as temperatures drop in fall and that is when some blanket flower winter care comes into play.
Once flowering is diminished and cool temperatures threaten, it is time for a little blanket flower winter care. You can choose to do nothing to blanket flowers in winter and they will likely come back through the previous season’s wreckage just fine. You can also prepare the plant for better spring growth and appearance.
If you choose to leave the plant alone and let ice and snow cover it, that is usually fine. It could be a chance in extremely cold regions, as the root zone could get killed. Some varieties are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 9 while others are tolerant down to zone 3.
Mulching is a common method of protecting perennials in winter. However, the danger in mulching blanket flower is that too much moisture may become trapped under the material. This can cause the plant to rot out. Gaillardia is drought tolerant but cannot stand soggy or boggy soils.
How to Winterize Blanket Flower
In warmer climates, blanket flowers in winter are allowed to continue to grow and add interest to the garden just with their foliage. In cooler climes, the best bet is to cut back the spent flowers and give the plant light mulch. By light, I mean one inch (2.5 cm.) of an organic material. This will give a gentle cover to the roots, but is not so thick that it will smother them and trap moisture.
Many gardeners believe in pruning blanket flower plants back to about 1 or 2 inches (2.5-5 cm.) from the ground. This is more an aesthetic approach to preparing blanket flower for winter. It is not important for the plant’s health, but it does increase their appeal when they arise freshly in spring without the old season’s dead growth around them.
Blanket flower winter care is really up to you. If you consider yourself a lazy gardener, do nothing at all. If you are the tidy type, cut back the plants and mulch. In most zones the result will be the same.