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Coreopsis: Easy to Grow and an Asset to the Garden

Jule Romans has been gardening with native wildflowers for over 15 years. She loves to share knowledge about her favorite native plants.

Coreopsis is the name for a varied group of perennial wildflowers that can bring many assets to any home flower garden.

These native plants need very little water, bloom repeatedly with deadheading, and make strong healthy foliage that stays green well past the first frost.

Coreopsis Lanceolata

Coreopsis Lanceolata

Coreopsis is Easy to Grow

Coreopsis plants are solid “plant it and forget about it” flowers that fill in all kinds of open spaces. Of all the native perennial wildflowers that can be used in the home garden, these are some of the most rewarding and hardy plants to grow. It is very easy to start Coreopsis from seed, and equally as easy to grow in a perennial garden.

Wildflowers like Coreopsis that are grown from true native seeds offer the most benefits to the environment. However, whether native or cultivated, these bright yellow perennials are a much better choice than potentially invasive plants.

Gardeners who have never worked with native plants will generally find them easy to grow from seed. For faster color, you may want to start with some of the Coreopsis cultivars.

Native Coreopsis In the Garden

Coreopsis is not a garden favorite yet, but it should be. Coreopsis lanceolata is a great plant for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.

Most new gardeners will appreciate Coreopsis grandifolia and Coreopsis tinctoria for their tough and drought tolerant natures. These two plants look very different from each other, but they both have the same resilience and tenacity.

Coreopsis Can Bloom All Season

Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is the most common native variant that can thrive in home gardens. They are perfect for beginning gardeners because they will simply grow all on their own. Coreopsis seems to survive all kinds of experimenting.

Too much deadheading? No problem. Coreopsis wildflowers just keep creating blooms, even though they do change appearance a bit. Cut back too hard? Not an issue. Coreopsis lanceolata makes more foliage at the base.

The only thing that can really stop native Coreopsis is too much water. If Coreopsis is planted in a location that tends to get soggy, it will likely rot from the roots and not return the next year. Sand Coreopsis also does not like shade, so keep it out in full sun where it can get at least six hours of sunshine every day.

Coreopsis loves sun and needs no extra water. Like most native wildflowers, Coreopsis shuns fertilizer. Do not fertilize Coreopsis. It will make the plant weak-stemmed, and result in fewer blooms. Coreopsis lanceolata attracts bees and supports other beneficial insects.

Choose Native Coreopsis Whenever Possible

Native Coreopsis provides more benefit to wildlife, offers more fragrant blooms, and is generally more likely to thrive in dry conditions.

Coreopsis Thrives in Many Locations

Tickseed Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) doew very well in sunny, dry locations. It has smaller, multicolored blooms on multiple stiff, branching stems.The blooms are not overly showy, but here are plenty of them. Tickseed Coreopsis is not fussy, but it does prefer soil that is not too rich. It's a great option to fill a sun-baked patch in your garden.

Most Coreopsis varieties do not have very deep roots, so they can go in containers. However, containers tend to have rich soil that holds on to water. The risk with putting Tickseed Coreopsis in containers is that the stems may become weak or leggy. The plants may also not bloom as prolifically.

Tickseed Coreopsis is a great choice for winter sowing. Plant seeds in winter sowing containers in December, and there will be sprouts as early as February in some climates. The young plants will be ready to be installed in the garden by April. Usually, these flowers bloom before June if winter-sown.

The best way to grow Tickseed Coreopsis is to put the plants in a dry location with lots of sun, and let them do what they please!

Coreopsis Cultivars Offer Quick Solutions, But Fewer Benefits

Coreopsis is a North American native wildflower that has been adapted into ready-to-plant cultivars. These cultivars are often sold as mature plants, offering quick color and immediate results. While it is preferable to use native plants to support pollinators, these varieties will still attract beneficial insects and provide some positive influences in your garden.

Red Coreopsis

These Coreopsis wildflowers can come potted and ready to plant. Note the shape of the petals in the video above, they are much different than the usual flat petals of the ordinary Coreopsis. Fluted petals are sometimes preferred by gardeners.

Red Coreopsis prefers well-drained soil, and a very sunny location. The more sun these plants get, the richer and stronger their blooms and foliage become. Divide Red Coreopsis every three years or so, or the roots may become crowded. This variety of Coreopsis does need deadheading or shearing to encourage reblooming.

Sunray Coreopsis

This variant is a good choice for anyone who wants a close-to traditional look, but needs it NOW. Most native varieties of Coreopsis grow best from seed, so they do require a bit of patience. This cultivar, however, can be planted in the garden as a full-grown flower-- even while blooming.

Although it is always recommended to transplant only when a plant is not in bloom, Coreopsis is so hardy that it can usually take the transfer as long as it gets enough water.

The plants will usually stay vigorous and healthy without a great deal of attention. However, if it does seem to droop a bit, keep the soil moist. When absolutely necessary, use compost tea or well-aged compost to help feed the roots.

Is Coreopsis a Perennial?

Yes, Coreopsis is a native perennial plant that will die back in the winter and revive in the warmer temperatures. These perennial plants can take up to two years to achieve maturity, and bloom prolifically when they do.

Some varieties of Coreopsis have been bred to bloom faster. These are annuals. They will come up, bloom, drop seeds, and die in the space of a single growing season. Frequently, though, these prolific re-seeders will start so many new plants the next year that the new plants will take the place of the old plants very quickly. Sometimes, gardeners don’t even notice a lapse. Thus, the annual varieties APPEAR to act as perennials because gardeners see new blooms year after year.

Should Coreopsis Be Cut Back?

It is better NOT to cut back Coreopsis in the Fall.

You can cut Coreopsis back in the Fall, after the growing season is finished, but it is better to leave the plant alone and not cut back the stems until Spring. Native insects and birds will use the stems and seeds for Winter cover and food.

Leave Coreopsis standing through the Winter, and cut the stems back to about 2-3 inches abouve the ground when all danger of frost has passed. This will allow perennial varieties of Coreopsis to thrive and regrow. It will also benefit the annoual varieties by allowing plenty of opportunity to re-seed.

Why Is Coreopsis Called Tickseed?

This charming name came from the observation of the shape and appearance of Coreopsis seed. Coreopsis is sometimes called tickseed simply because the seed of the plant tend to resemble ticks. This plant does not attract ticks, so there is no need to be concerned.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jule Romans