How to Grow and Care for Coreopsis — Tickseed

Tickseed Coreopsis
Large-flowered coreopsis, Coreopsis grandiflora

Coreopsis–commonly called Tickseed–are long-blooming annuals and perennials that bear daisy-like single or double flowers. Tickseeds belong to the genus Coreopsis. There are about 80 to 100 species of tickseed, most bearing yellow-orange or gold flowers, but there are species with pale yellow or pink flowers.

Coreopsis is easily grown and attractive as bedding plants, meadow plants, and cut flowers. In the garden, they are most attractive when massed in large bands or groups.

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Coreopsis flowers are carried on leafless stems. The flowers consist of ray florets or petals surrounding a dense cluster of disk florets, called the “eye.” The leaves are either simple or cut in a pinnate or palmate fashion. The common name tickseeds refer to the black seeds that follow the flowers.

Coreopsis is native to North and Central America.

Lance-leaved coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata
Lance-leaved coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata

Get to Know Coreopsis

  • Plant type: Hardy annual or perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: All zones as an annual; Zone 3 to 10 as a perennial
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C); tolerant of heat and cold; most die back in winter;
  • Height and width: 24 to 26 inches (61-91cm) tall; 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) wide
  • Foliage: Lacy, finely cut leaves, simple or entire, pinnate or palmate
  • Flowers: Daisylike single or double flowers from one to several inches wide
  • Flower colors: Yellow, orange, maroon, bronze, and shades of red, often with a contrasting band of color surrounding purplish brown centers.
  • Bloom time: Summer in most regions; spring through fall in Zone 8 and warmer
  • Uses: Plant in mass; use in beds and borders
  • Common name: Coreopsis, Tickseed
  • Botanical name: Coreopsis spp.
  • Family: Compositae
  • Origin: Woodlands in North and Central America

Where to Plant Coreopsis

  • Plant Coreopsis in full sun.
  • Grow Coreopsis in average to sandy, well-drained soil.
  • Coreopsis prefers a soil pH of 6.5 to 7.

Coreopsis Uses and Companions

  • Use Coreopsis grandiflora in informal and formal gardens; allow it to self-seed in meadows and cottage gardens. It is an excellent cut flower.
  • Use Coreopsis rosea as a foreground planting or path edging; it combines well with blue flowers.
  • Use Coreopsis verticillata to provide a fine texture contrast to bolder flowers and foliage; ‘Moonbeam’ combines well with almost any other flower color.
  • Good garden companions for Coreopsis include Asclepias tuberosa, Convolvulus mauritanicus, Nepeta, Penstemon, Salvis, Sisyrinchium striatum.
Tickseed Coreopsis verticillata in late summer
Tickseed Coreopsis verticillata in late summer

When to Plant Coreopsis

  • Start Coreopsis from seed in spring or fall.
  • Start perennial Coreopsis seeds indoors 8 weeks before the last frost in spring; start annual tickseed seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost.
  • Sow seed outdoors after the danger of frost is past in spring.
  • Set container-grown Coreopsis in the garden after the last spring frost; harden off plants for a few days in the shade before planting them in the garden.

Planting and Spacing Coreopsis

  • Sow seed indoors in six-pack or flats filled with moist, sterile potting soil. Cover plants with 1/8 inch of soil and keep them at 65° to 75°F (18°-24°C) in bright light or under fluorescent light. Seeds will germinate in about 7 days.
  • Sow seed outdoors in evenly prepared soil; sow seed 1/8 inch deep.
  • Space Coreopsis 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) apart.
  • If annual plants are leggy, bury the stems deeper than they grew to the bottom two leaves.
  • Plant container-grown perennial Coreopsis at the same depth at which they grew.
 Coreopsis tinctoria commonly called Plains coreopsis or Calliopsis
Coreopsis tinctoria commonly called Plains coreopsis or Calliopsis

How to Water and Feed Coreopsis

  • Coreopsis needs evenly moist soil until well-established; established plants are fairly drought tolerant.
  • Mulch plants with 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6cm) of aged compost or shredded leaves to conserve soil moisture.
  • Fertilize Coreopsis occasionally with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Coreopsis Care and Propagation

  • Remove spent Coreopsis blooms to encourage new blooms.
  • Tall varieties can be supported by a stake or ring-type support.
  • When annual Coreopsis become too branched and spent, remove, and replace them.

Coreopsis Pests and Diseases

  • Coreopsis has few pests apart from rabbits.

Coreopsis Propagation

  • Seeds germinate in 7 to 14 days at 55° to 60°F (13°-16°C).
  • Divide Coreopsis every 3 or 4 years. Plants can also be started from seeds or cuttings.
Coreopsis verticillata, 'Zagreb'
Coreopsis verticillata, ‘Zagreb’

Coreopsis Varieties to Grow

  • Coreopsis auriculata, Mouse-ear Coreopsis. Perennial grows 1 to 2 feet (.3-.6m) tall and spreads by stolons, bears solitary, yellow-orange 2-inch (5cm) wide flowers; ‘Nana’ is an 8-inch (20cm) tall cultivar.
  • C. grandiflora, Large-flowered Coreopsis. Perennial produces golden-yellow daisies on 3-foot (.9m) plants; there are single, semi-double, and double-flowered cultivars; ‘Early Sunrise’ blooms the first year from seeds.
  • C. lanceolata, Lance-leaved Coreopsis. Perennial grows 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall; flowers from late spring to midsummer; there are single-, semi-double, and double-flowered cultivars.
  • C. rosea, Pink Coreopsis. Bears rosy-pink 1-inch (2.5cm) wide flowers with yellow centers; the plant grows 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall with needlelike leaves.
  • C. tinctoria, Calliopsis, plains Coreopsis. The erect plant grows 1 to 4 feet (.3-1.2m) tall with solitary, yellow 1- and 2-inch-wide daisylike flowers; flowers are bright yellow with a maroon center; cultivars are marked with maroon, dark red, or purple-brown.
  • C. tripteris, Tall tickseed, Atlantic Coreopsis. Wildflower grows 3 to 9 feet (.9-2.7m) tall with clusters of pale yellow 2-inch (5cm) wide flowers.
  • C. verticillata, Threadleaved C.oreopsis. A is fine-textured, feathery foliage to 18 to 36 inches (45-91cm) tall. Cultivars ‘Moonbeam’ has beautiful pale yellow flowers, and ‘Zagreb’ has golden-yellow flowers.

Coreopsis grandiflora — Coreopsis, tickseed

Coreopsis is a popular garden flower because of its extended blooming season, from early to late summer if faded flowers are removed. Daisy-like flowers, 2 inches across, with golden yellow petals and orange-yellow centers bring brilliant color to the garden. Flowers open from knoblike buds on long, wiry stems that stand well above the clump of basal foliage. Leaves are deeply cut into oblong or lanceolate segments. Leaves form tufts near the base of the plant and are scattered partway up the flowering stems. Plants are short-lived, surviving usually for two to four years. Self-sown seedlings do not come true to type. Coreopsis is native to the grasslands and roadsides of the Midwest.

  • Size: 2 to 3 feet tall; 1 ½ to 2 feet wide.
  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil and moisture: Average to sandy, well-drained, infertile soil; moderate moisture. Drought tolerant.
  • Planting and propagation: Plant container-grown plants in spring, spacing 1 foot apart. Divide each year in spring for the best longevity.
  • Special care: May flop and sprawl if the soil is rich and fertile; stake with ring support to hold flower stems. Deadhead regularly for long bloom and to prevent self-seeding, cutting back flower stalks for best appearance. Do not fertilize.
  • Pests and disease: Midlew can be troublesome, occasionally bothered by leafspot, aphids, or cucumber beetles. Root rot in winter-wet soil.
  • Climate: Zones 5-9; blooms longest when cool.
  • Cultivars and similar species: C. lanceolata, similar, bright yellow daisies with brownish centers, 8 to 10 inches tall. The following cultivars may be randomly attributed to either species. ‘Early Sunrise,’ 1 ½ to 2 feet tall, early flowering, double; ‘Sunray,’ double 2-inch flowers, 2 feet tall; ‘Goldfink,’ deep yellow, very floriferous, 9 inches tall, dense ground-covering foliage; ‘Sunburst,’ semidouble flowers. 2 feet tall; ‘Baby Sun,’ single, bright yellow, 20 inches tall.
  • Garden use: Use in informal and formal gardens; allow to self-seed in meadow plantings and cottage gardens. Excellent cut flower.

Coreopsis rosea — Pink Coreopsis

Pink Coreopsis is a recently introduced plant. Its fine-textured flower and foliage resemble a pink-flowered version of the popular yellow-flowered threadleaf coreopsis. Flowers are ¼ inch across with rose-pink petals surrounding a central yellow disk. Flowers are held on short stems just above the leaves from midsummer to late summer. The leaves are tiny and linear and numerous along the sprawling stems. Unlike other species of coreopsis, this one is not drought tolerant.

  • Size: 1 to ¼ feet tall; 1 ½ feet wide. Spreads rapidly by rhizomes.
  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil and moisture: Fertile, heavy, moist soil best; provide abundant water.
  • Planting and propagation: Plant container-grown or bare-root plants in spring, spacing 1 foot apart. Divide every other year in spring or fall.
  • Special care: Performs poorly in allowed to dry out. Shear off faded flowers to encourage reblooming.
  • Pest and diseases: Mildew in shade.
  • Climate: Zones 4-8.
  • Cultivars: ‘Nana,’ 6 inches tall; ‘Alba,’ very pale pink (not white) petals, yellow centers.
  • Garden use: Lovely as foreground planting or path edging. Combines well with blue flowers.

Coreopsis verticillata — Threadleaf coreopsis

Threadleaf coreopsis is one of the easiest and longest blooming perennials for sunny gardens, blooming from midsummer into fall. Leaves are divided into threadlike segments, along upright stems that form wide-spreading, bushy plants. The 2-inch-wide daisy-like flowers have narrow, bright yellow petals and a small, dark yellow center.

  • Size: 2 to 3 feet tall; spreads rapidly by rhizomes to 3 or more feet wide.
  • Light: Full sun best; tolerates light shade.
  • Soil and moisture: Average to sandy, infertile to soil; moderate moisture. Drought tolerant.
  • Planting and propagation: Plant container-grown or bare-root in spring, spacing 1 ½ feet apart. Divide every few years in spring or fall.
  • Special care: Shear off faded flowers. May be invasive in fertile, moist soil. Late to emerge in spring.
  • Pest and diseases: May be nibbled on by rabbits; otherwise, pest-free.
  • Climate: Zones 3-9.
  • Cultivars: ‘Zagreb,’ golden yellow flowers, 1 ½ foot-tall dwarf; ‘Golden Showers,’ 2 ½ inch bright golden yellow flowers, 2 to 3 feet tall, long blooming; ‘Moonbeam,’ very popular hybrid with pastel yellow flowers, long blooming, 1 ½ feet tall.
  • Garden use: Wonderful for providing fine texture contrast to border flowers and foliage. ‘Moonbeam combines well with almost any other flower color. Dried stems look pretty in the winter garden.

Coreopsis Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What growing conditions do tickseed prefer?

A: Coreopsis is happy in almost any well-drained garden soil in full sun. They are drought-resistant and an outstanding choice for hot, difficult places.

Q: Can tickseed be started from seed?

A; Yes. It tickseed (Coreopsis) is sown in early spring indoors, and the plants will bloom the first year. You can also plant tickseed outdoors in summer to bloom the next year. Tickseed can also be propagated by division.

Q: How do I start Coreopsis from seed?

A: Start coreopsis seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. The stored seed must be stratified (refrigerate for 3 to 4 weeks) before sowing. Transplant the seedlings to larger containers when they have two to three true leaves. Move them outdoors when their roots fill the pots after the last spring frost.

Q: What plants should I grow tickseed with?

A: A favorite Coreopsis planting is the combination of tickseed plat with Shasta daisies in front of delphiniums. Tickseed produces bright yellow daisy-like flowers off and on all summer if the faded flowers are removed. Coreopsis is well suited for patio containers and hanging baskets.

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