In the language of flowers, Coreopsis (tickseed) is known as the “always be cheerful flower.”
Coreopsis are native plants, in the Asteraceae (aster) family. Over the last few years, new varieties of Coreopsis (cor-e-op-sis'), have been introduced.
There are more than 100 Coreopsis varieties encompassing a color palate beyond the natural yellow. Popular flower colors include red, pink, yellow, and a bi-color form.
Most Coreopsis specimens are perennials, but some varieties are grown as annuals. Coreopsis are an attractive food source for pollinators such as butterflies, Luna moths, hover flies, bees, wasps, and more.
Coreopsis is not fussy and will grow in any soil that is not waterlogged.
This plant prefers full sun, needs little watering after it is established and very little fertilizer, if any. Their green foliage is either cut-leaf or fern-like.
The Coreopsis flowers, lifted above the foliage on long wiry stems, are daisy-like in appearance.
The height of Coreopsis is fairly standard at 10 to 18 inches, with some varieties growing 12 to 24 inches. Some varieties may grow 2 feet wide. Other varieties grow slightly smaller in size and diameter. Coreopsis blooms from early summer to fall, making it one of the longest growing perennials in our area.
Use Coreopsis as a cut flower in water, where it will remain fresh for several days.
Cut back spent flowers to encourage more blooms. To deadhead Coreopsis, shear the entire plant instead of cutting back one flower at a time.
No diseases, insects or pests affect Coreopsis, including deer and rabbits.
Propagate Coreopsis by dividing every three years in the fall or early spring. While Coreopsis can be started from seed, you will need to wait a year for blooms.
Coreopsis is a very versatile garden plant.
When planted in containers, Coreopsis add a pop of color to green foliage and complement annuals of similar or opposite colors.
Use Coreopsis varieties with fern-like foliage or cut-leaf foliage (“Jethro Tull”) at the front of garden borders to frame taller plantings. As a specimen plant, Coreopsis provides a bright and airy focal point. Popular companion plants are coneflower, delphiniums, allium, daylilies, lavender, salvia, veronica, and yarrow.
In 1992, Coreopsis verticillata “Moonbeam” was the Perennial Plant of the Year; 26 years later, this plant continues to be the top-selling variety. “Zagreb,” another variety, is popular as well. Coreopsis varieties hardy to our area are available at local garden centers and nurseries.
Almost all Coreopsis are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 — 8 (Butler County is USDA Hardiness Zone 5b-6a).
The plants pictured are all hardy in this area.
“Route 66” was discovered in Lucinda, Clarion County, and can survive our winters. “Limerock” has outstanding flower color, but may not survive our winters unless planted in a protected garden area.
Because Coreopsis is a long-blooming, easy to grow native plant with an array of color choices that lacks pests and diseases, it is an outstanding, “go-to” plant for any garden.
Mary Ellen Walter lives in Meridian and has been a Master Gardener for 10 years. Her home gardens are certified as a Monarch Waystation, NWF (National Wildlife Federation) Bird Friendly and Wildlife Habitats, a Pennsylvania Pollinator Friendly Garden, and an Audubon Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary.