The annual plant, Gaillardia pulchella--sometimes called Indian blanket, blanket flower, Indian blanket flower or firewheel-- is an herbaceous annual native to the central U.S. It's an extremely easy-to-grow plant in the garden, and just as easy is saving Gaillardia seeds.
Looking at the fiery flower petals of this plant it's easy to see where it gets its common names from. Like with other plants in the Asteraceae family, the seeds for this plant develop in the center of the bloom. There are actually lots of tiny flowers that make up the 'eye' of the flower.
The petals you see are just there for show and to attract pollinators--which is does by the dozens--such as bees and butterflies.
After the flowers in the center have been pollinated, the leaves fall off and you're left with these lollipop-shaped seed heads on the stems of your Gaillardia plants.
To promote more blooms, Gaillardias should be deadheaded but in most areas they will bloom from summer into fall all on their own.
Leave the seed heads on your plants until all the color has faded and the seed head has dried to a mostly white hue. When the seed heads are sufficiently ripe and dry the perfect spheres start to shrink and you'll see dark circles in the seed head. When Gaillardia seed heads look like the photo above you know the seeds are ready to collect. To save Gaillardia seed just pinch the seed head until it breaks apart and all the individual seeds come loose. Set the seeds in a cool dry location on a piece of paper to draw out any moisture from the seeds before storing them.
I find that Gaillardia seeds, which are actually a fruit known as an achene, are rather sharp, so using gloves to harvest the seeds may be a good idea. Gaillardia will also self-seed readily and saving seeds isn't necessary, but it's good to have backup seeds in your seed bank and seed libraries just in case. If you're looking for garden plants that are pretty much maintenance free and can tolerate drought, plant a few Gaillardias in your garden.