Ask the Experts, Plant Profiles

Indian Blanket: A Burst of Color Across Texas Landscapes

 (Gaillardia pulchella)

Common Names: Indian Blanket, Firewheel, Blanket Flower.

Overview of Indian Blanket

The Blanket Flower, also known as Indian Blanket and Fire Wheel, is a cherished annual wildflower admired for its vibrant hues and striking appearance. Indian Blanket forms beautiful flower heads resembling festive pinwheels. Each stem is adorned with striking flower heads showcasing a transition from red at the base to bright yellow at the tip, creating a captivating display of color.

Region Widespread across the Southern and Central United States.
Plant Type Annual or short-lived perennial.
Sun Exposure Full sun to maximize blooming.
Soil Type Tolerant of poor soils, including sandy and rocky substrates.
Water Requirements Highly drought resistant; minimal watering needed.
Bloom Time Blooms generously from early summer to fall.
Flower Color Bold red petals tipped with bright yellow, resembling a fiery sun.
Growth Habit Compact clusters reaching 1 to 2 feet in height.
Garden Use Great for adding warm colors to borders, containers, and as part of drought-tolerant landscapes.
Wildlife Attraction Attracts butterflies, birds, and bees; deer resistant.
Care Tips Thrives with minimal care; deadhead to encourage more blooms.
Notable Traits Each blossom is adorned with distinctive three-toothed petals.
Companion Plants Complements grasses and other sun-loving perennials like Salvia and Lavender.

Description and Floral Structure

With its fuzzy, hairy stem that generously branches out, the Indian Blanket produces flower heads that are not only visually appealing but also a source of nourishment for local pollinators. These blooms offer a rich source of nectar, thus playing a crucial role in the survival and proliferation of bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects. Their presence within the ecosystem encourages health and biodiversity, which are indicators of a thriving environment.

Cultivation and Propagation

In addition to their ecological benefits, Fire Wheels are renowned for their adaptability. They can endure the Texas heat and the dryness of less fertile regions, flourishing in sandy or calcareous soils where other species might struggle. This resilience makes them an ideal choice for gardeners and landscapers looking to cultivate a low-maintenance garden that withstands the challenges of the local climate.


Gardeners favor the Indian Blanket for its easy propagation through self-seeding. This quality ensures that once planted, the Blanket Flower will often return year after year, replenishing its vibrant display without requiring extensive care. This self-sustaining attribute not only eases the gardener’s workload but also encourages the proliferation of native species in domestic settings, further bridging the gap between natural and human-created landscapes. While traditionally displaying a combination of red and yellow, the Blanket Flower occasionally presents itself in variations, including blooms that are entirely yellow.

Ideal Growing Conditions

In cultivating the Indian Blanket, it is essential to mimic its natural conditions to ensure optimal growth. This means planting in well-drained soil, providing ample sunlight, and minimizing the frequency of watering once the plant is established, as it is drought tolerant. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is detrimental to the plant’s health. To encourage more blooms, deadheading, or removing spent flowers, can be beneficial. Furthermore, allowing some flower heads to go to seed will enable the plant to self-propagate, ensuring a new generation of flowers for the following season.

The Indian Blanket is a striking example of the beauty and resilience of native flowers. Its cultivation is not only an aesthetic choice for the keen gardener but also a practical one, as it requires minimal maintenance and supports local wildlife. Proper cultivation involves planting under full sun, minimal watering, and soil that emulates its natural habitat.