The branching stem of Gaillardia pulchella is hairy and upright, growing to 60 cm (2 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, mostly basal, 4–8 cm long, with edges smooth to coarsely toothed or lobed. It has a hairy stem, simple or branched near the base, where the leaves are essentially located towards the bottom of the plant.
The pinwheel, daisy-like inflorescences are 4–6 cm in diameter, vividly colored with red, orange and yellow and is surrounded by 10 to 20 fleurons ligulate three lobes. The central disc florets of the flower head tend to be more red-violet, with the outer ray florets being yellow. In one variety, almost the entire flower is red, with only the barest tips of the petals touched with yellow. It blooms practically year-round in some areas, but more typically in summer to early fall.