With multicolor, fringe-tipped petals in bold sunset red, yellow and orange all summer long, blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.) is a plant you'll want to include in a sunny garden. Blanket flower has two main species: an annual wildflower called Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), and perennial blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. There's also a hybrid mix of the two -- also called blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) -- a short-lived perennial in USDA zones 3 through 10. You collect seed to save for the next season's plants or to create more of the attractive perennials in the same way.
1 Monitor your blanket flowers in late summer, watching for the petals to fall and the remaining round center of the daisylike flower to turn white. The white is at the wide end of the cone-shaped seeds, which are packed tip-first into the round central seed head.
2 Put on garden gloves. The stems and seed heads are covered with small hairs, particularly on the annual variety, which can cause an itchy allergic reaction.
3 Snip off the seed heads with clippers. You can clip off the stems at their base to neaten the plant up for fall at the same time.
4 Roll the seed heads between your gloved hands over a bowl or paper bag to dislodge the dried seeds. Each seed head holds hundreds of the tiny seeds -- each 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, including the white tail.
5 Place the seeds in a paper envelope marked with the blanket flower variety.
6 Place 2 tablespoons of powdered milk or uncooked rice inside a small square of paper towel. Pull up the ends of the paper towel and secure them with a rubber band to make a bundle. Place the bundle in the bottom of a glass or plastic jar and place the seed envelope inside. Powdered milk or rice help keep the seeds dry and viable.
7 Store the jar in the refrigerator or other consistently cool place until planting time in early spring.
Items you will need
- Bypass pruners
- Bowl or paper bag
- Paper towel
- Powdered milk or uncooked rice
- Glass jar with lid
- Both annual and perennial blanket flower seeds are sown on the surface of the soil and take seven to 20 days to germinate. Sow perennial seeds directly in the garden six weeks before your area's last spring frost and annual seeds after all danger of frost has passed.
- Because you aren't likely to need thousands of blanket flower seeds, keep your perennial plants growing well for another season by pruning all but one plant down to its basal foliage in late summer. This directs their energy into new foliage and buds for next season instead of seed.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gaillardia Pulchella
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gaillardia Aristata "Bijou"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Gaillardia x Grandiflora
- Garden Flower Seeds: A Pictorial Guide; Terry A. Woodger
- Saving Seed: The Gardener's Guide to Growing and Saving Vegetable and Flower Seeds; Marc Rogers
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting; Sheri Richerson
- Texas A&M University Extension: General Questions - Non-crop
- The Well-Tended Perennial Garden; Tracy DiSabato-Aust
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