Grow Coreopsis for Cheerful Summer FlowersGet tips for planting, caring for, and using this versatile native plant.
Uptick™ Yellow & Red Tickseed (Coreopsis hybrid). Photo by: Proven Winners
Valued for its long bloom season and fuss-free nature, coreopsis (tickseed) has become one of the most popular plants in the perennial garden, despite an unflattering name describing the appearance of its seeds rather than the beauty of its flowers. “Garden Superstar” would be a more fitting moniker for this gorgeous native prairie plant, which produces cheery, daisy-like blooms all summer long, thriving through sweltering heat and blazing sunlight.
As a bonus, coreopsis will also attract a parade of pollinators to your garden, including bees, butterflies, and seed-eating birds. Although the native species of tickseed typically bloom in shades of yellow and gold, you’ll also find a wide array of cultivars offering a greater range of color choices, tidier growth habits, and larger flowers, giving you more options than ever before.
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Typically 4-9, varies by species
Herbaceous pernnial or annual
6 inches (dwarf forms) to 8 feet tall
Usually early to late summer, varies by species and cultivar
Rayed blooms surround a central disk; single, double, or fluted petals; shades of yellow, gold, pink, white, red, and various bi-colors.
May be deeply lobed, lance-like,or fine and lacy, depending on the variety.
Is coreopsis deer resistant?
Tickseed is rarely bothered by deer.
“The Year of the Coreopsis” was declared in 2018 by the National Garden Bureau, which celebrates one perennial every year that meets its criteria for adaptability, genetic diversity, and versatility.
TYPES OF COREOPSIS
Li'l Bang™ Red Elf (Coreopsis hybrid). Photo by: Proven Winners.
There are about 80 species of Coreopsis, nearly half of them native to North America. Some are clump forming and others spread by rhizomes. Some of the most common species include:
- Clump-forming: C. grandiflora (large-flowered coreopsis) and C. lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis)
- Rhizomatous: C. auriculata (lobed or mouse-eared coreopsis), C. rosea (pink coreopsis), C. verticillata (threadleaf coreopsis), and C. tripteris (tall coreopsis)
- Annual: C. tinctoria (plains coreopsis) is another popular variety.
HOW TO PLANT COREOPSIS
When to plant:
In late spring, after the threat of frost has passed. Can also be planted in summer if kept well-watered until established.
Where to plant:
In full sun or light shade. Plants will bloom more prolifically in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours daily).
Don’t worry too much about the soil when planting coreopsis. It will tolerate just about any soil type as long as it’s well-drained, including sandy and rocky soils.
How to plant:
When transplanting nursery-grown plants, dig a hole the same depth as the root ball and just a bit wider. Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is at or just slightly above the soil level. Backfill, and then water thoroughly. To help retain soil moisture and protect the root system from temperature extremes, apply a layer of mulch around each plant.
12 to 20 inches, depending on the plant size at maturity
COREOPSIS CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Photo by: Pics Man24 / Shutterstock
Water young plants regularly until they become established. Mature plants will tolerate drought and only need watering during long periods of hot, dry weather. (See more drought-tolerant plants.)
Tickseed prefers growing in lean, infertile soil. Fertilizing or amending the soil is generally not needed and may actually inhibit flower production.
Pruning and deadheading:
Flowering will often begin to wane by midsummer, as the plant begins to devote its energy to seed development. Regular deadheading will encourage continued flowering but can be time-consuming, especially if you have a lot of plants.
An easier option is to shear plants back to half their height after they show signs of slowing down, which will usually promote a new flush of blooms while removing sprawling or untidy foliage. Although regular deadheading will prolong the bloom period, be sure to leave some spent flower heads if reseeding is desired.
Some coreopsis (especially C. grandiflora and its cultivars) tend to be short-lived perennials and should be divided every two or three years—in early spring or fall—to extend their lifespan. You should also divide coreopsis if you notice that the center of the plant is beginning to die out or it starts to produce fewer or smaller flowers.
Pests and problems:
Coreopsis has few insect or disease problems. However, it may be susceptible to powdery mildew and other fungal diseases in areas with high humidity. See these tips for preventing and treating powdery mildew.
UPTICK™ YELLOW & RED TICKSEED — Buy now from Proven Winners
Size: 12 to 14 inches tall & wide
Bloom time: Early to late summer
The Uptick™ series of coreopsis boasts large bi-colored flowers, a long bloom time, and a compact growth habit ideal for containers and garden borders. In addition to Yellow & Red, other color combinations in the series include Cream & Red and Gold & Bronze.
LI'L BANG™ RED ELF— Buy now from Proven Winners
Size: 8 to 12 inches tall, 10 to 15 inches wide
Bloom time: Early summer to early fall
Compact in size but big in impact, this boldly colored selection flaunts satiny red petals set off by bright yellow centers. In the heat of summer, the tips of the petals turn frosty white, but return to fully red when cooler weather returns. Also try the equally colorful Li’l Bang™ Daybreak, which features fiery reddish-orange and gold rays resembling a summer sunrise.
Coreopsis 'Jethro Tull'
Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and wide
Bloom time: Early summer to early fall
Rocking brilliant yellow flowers with fluted petals, the aptly named ‘Jethro Tull’ is a real head turner and a stellar performer, blooming nonstop into fall without missing a beat. It’s also compact and drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for containers and water-wise gardens.
Size: 30 to 36 inches tall, 18 to 245 inches wide
Bloom time: June through September
Named for its delicate threadlike foliage, this native of the eastern U.S. is topped by a profusion of bright yellow flowers from early to late summer, and even longer if spent blooms are deadheaded. Spreads slowly by rhizomes and also reseeds, making it ideal for naturalized settings.
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall, 1 to 2 feet wide
Bloom time: June to September
This long-blooming annual species of coreopsis is a favorite in wildflower seed mixes because it grows quickly and tolerates most soil types. The yellow and red bi-color blooms add bright pops of color to any garden setting and are especially gorgeous in cut flower arrangements.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Size: 18 to 24 inches tall & wide
Bloom time: June until frost
An enthusiastic bloomer, producing an abundance of creamy yellow flowers all summer long, rising above airy mounds of lacy foliage. The soft shade of yellow pairs nicely with just about any other flower color in the garden, especially rich purples and blues.
Size: 1 to 2 feet tall & wide
Bloom time: May to July
An early bloom time, attractive lance-shaped leaves, and fringed petals are the hallmarks of this perennial wildflower, which produces masses of bright yellow blooms from spring through midsummer. A great addition to a pollinator garden as an early-season food source for bees and butterflies.
Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise'
Size: Up to 18 inches tall and 15 inches wide
Bloom time: Late spring through late summer
This All-America Selections winner produces spectacular semi-double flowers that rival those of marigolds in their color intensity and fullness, but on a perennial plant that will return year after year. One of the earliest Coreopsis to bloom, usually starting in May.
Coreopsis auriculata 'Nana'
Size: 6 to 9 inches tall, 8 to 10 inches wide
Bloom time: Early spring to late summer
This darling little dwarf tickseed, with lobed leaves that resemble tiny mouse ears, grows to a height of only 9 inches yet produces extra-large flowers up to 2 inches wide, held high on long, leafless stalks. Frilly tooth-edged petals add to the visual appeal. Use in containers, as a border plant, or to edge a sunny walkway.
WHAT TO PLANT WITH COREOPSIS & DESIGN IDEAS
Coreopsis are equally at home in formal and naturalized garden settings and are good companions with a wide array of other sun-loving perennials. Try some of these design ideas:
- Combine with purple coneflower, Shasta daisy, garden phlox, and yarrow for a colorful display in a cottage garden.
- Pair them with spiky flowers like speedwell, liatris, and salvia to add texture and visual interest. These and other flowers in the purple and blue color spectrum contrast beautifully with yellow coreopsis varieties.
- Create a meadow garden by planting with other native wildflowers and grasses such as Joe Pye weed, penstemon, black-eyed Susan, and Shenandoah switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’).
- In a pollinator garden, team them up with other bee-friendly and butterfly-friendly plants to attract a wide variety of beneficial insects.
- Use the ferny foliage of threadleaf coreopsis to soften the appearance of bold-leaved foliage plants.