Butterfly bonanza! Grow vibrant coreopsis for a summer of dazzling blooms & happy pollinators. Read on for easy growing tips and tricks for endless summer flowers.

If you want captivating colors and a simple care routine in your flower garden, coreopsis is like that effortlessly stylish friend who always looks amazing without even trying. These blooms require minimal care to dazzle your garden with their bold brilliance.

Coreopsis was one of my first perennial plants to grow and I’ve had it my flower gardens for over twenty-five years.

With its vibrant colors and delicate daisy-like blooms, it’s a must-have addition to your garden if you’re aiming for low-maintenance beauty.

It’s also a great addition to various garden styles, from wildflower meadows to formal gardens. And what’s great about coreopsis is that it comes in various shades – from sunny yellows to deep oranges, pinks and even striking reds!

Learn how to grow the coreopsis plant with these simple tips.

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About Coreopsis

Coreopsis, often referred to as “tickseed,” is a herbaceous perennial plant in the daisy (Asteraceae) family that is typically found in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9. It grows in dense, bushy clumps with fine, airy foliage and showy blooms.

In general, most tickseed plants grow to be around 1 to 3 feet in height and have a similar spread. However, there are both compact and taller varieties available, so you can choose the one that best fits your garden space. Coreopsis looks great when planted in the front or middle of flower gardens.

Light Conditions

Tickseed is a sun-loving plant that thrives in full sun to partial sun conditions. This means it prefers to receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. While coreopsis prefers full sun, some varieties can tolerate a bit of shade, especially in the afternoon. So depending on the variety, if you have a spot that gets 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight, you might be able to grow coreopsis there.

Soil

Tickseed plant thrives in infertile sandy and rocky soils and tolerates drought, low levels of salt, infertile soil, heat, and humidity.  If the soil is too rich or moist, stems become weak and plants tend to flop, so well-draining soil is a must. 

I can attest to how much they don’t love overly moist soil. When we moved here, I dug and divided a few and moved them over to the cottage garden next to the pool. I didn’t know how saturated that soil was until I noticed the coreopsis and some nepeta divisions not thriving.

While tickseeds aren’t super fussy, they don’t do well in soil that doesn’t drain well.

close up of moonbeam coreopsis (Tickseed)
close up of moonbeam coreopsis

Watering Coreopsis

While coreopsis is known for its drought-tolerant nature, the key is to provide enough water to keep the plant healthy and thriving without overwatering, which can lead to root rot, weak stems, fewer blooms, or other issues. Here’s a general guideline for watering coreopsis:

  • Water at the base of the plant: Always water at the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry and prevent diseases.
  • Always water in the morning if possible: Avoid watering later in the day or evening to avoid disease problems.
  • Minimal Watering: Check the soil before watering to make sure the soil isn’t waterlogged. Watering once every two weeks to a month, depending on your climate and soil conditions, is usually sufficient.

Pollinator Friendly

Tickseed is a pollinator-friendly plant that attracts a variety of beneficial insects, especially pollinators like bees and butterflies. Additionally, coreopsis often has a prolonged blooming period, which means it provides a consistent and reliable food source for pollinators throughout the entire growing season.

Is Coreopsis Deer Resistant?

Yes, coreopsis is generally considered to be deer-resistant due to its natural characteristics, such as its texture and taste. However, it’s important to note that while tickseed is less appealing to deer, there’s no guarantee that deer won’t occasionally nibble on it, especially if they’re facing extreme food shortages or if they’re particularly hungry. 

Rutgers Cooperative Extension rates coreopsis varieties differently in terms of deer resistance so check their list so you know what rating the variety you plant has.

moonbeam coreopsis (tickseed flower) by driveway
Moonbeam Coreopsis Flower

Common Pest and Disease Problems

Coreopsis is generally a resilient and low-maintenance plant, but like any garden plant, it can face a few pest and disease challenges. I’ve never had an issue with them, but they do suffer from powdery mildew each year as the plant wraps up its bloom cycle.

Here are common issues to be aware of when growing coreopsis:

  • Aphids: These tiny insects can cluster on new growth and flower buds, sucking out plant juices. They can be washed off with a strong stream of water or controlled with insecticidal soap if the infestation is severe.
  • Spider Mites: These pests are more common in hot, dry conditions. They cause stippling on leaves and can be controlled with regular misting and introducing predatory mites or insects.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white powdery substance on the leaves. Ensure good air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and choose mildew-resistant varieties to prevent this issue.
  • Leaf Spot: This fungal disease causes dark spots on leaves. Remove affected leaves and avoid overhead watering to prevent its spread.
  • Root Rot: Overly wet conditions can lead to root rot, which affects the plant’s health. Ensure proper drainage and avoid overwatering to prevent this problem.
  • Rust: Rust appears as orange or rust-colored spots on leaves. Remove affected leaves and ensure good air circulation to prevent its spread.
nepeta and coreopsis moonbeam (tickseed flower)
coreopsis and nepeta flowers

Benefits of Growing Tickseed 

Growing coreopsis comes with a range of benefits that make it a fantastic addition to any garden. Here are some of the reasons you should choose to cultivate these charming blooms:

  • Vibrant Beauty: Tickseed offers a stunning display of colorful flowers that add a vibrant touch to your garden. With shades of yellow, orange, red, and even pink, coreopsis can brighten up any landscape.
  • Low Maintenance: If you’re looking for a plant that requires minimal effort to thrive, coreopsis is an excellent choice. Its low-maintenance nature means you can enjoy its beauty without constant attention.
  • Long Blooming Period: Many coreopsis varieties have a long blooming season, providing you with continuous bursts of color from late spring to early fall.
  • Attracts Pollinators: Tickseed’s nectar-rich flowers are a magnet for pollinators like bees and butterflies. By planting coreopsis, you’re supporting local wildlife and promoting a healthier garden ecosystem.
  • Deer Resistance: Coreopsis is often deer-resistant, which can help protect your garden from these hungry visitors.
  • Versatile Landscaping: Tickseed works well in various garden styles, from cottage gardens to wildflower meadows and even formal gardens. Its versatility makes it easy to integrate into your existing landscape design.
  • Cut Flowers: Coreopsis flowers make lovely cut flowers for bouquets and arrangements, allowing you to bring a piece of your garden indoors.
  • Drought Tolerance: Once established, coreopsis can withstand periods of drought, making it a water-wise option for regions with limited water availability.
  • Naturalizing: Some tickseed varieties are great for naturalizing, meaning they can spread and create a more extensive stand over time, filling in spaces in a beautiful and organic way.
  • Erosion Control: With its spreading habit and strong root system, coreopsis can help prevent soil erosion on slopes or in areas prone to erosion.
  • Seasonal Interest: Beyond the blooms, some coreopsis varieties offer interesting seed heads that can add visual interest to your garden, even after the flowering season.
Big Bang Tickseed Coreopsis

Propagating Tickseed Plant

Propagating coreopsis flowers is a rewarding way to expand your garden and share the beauty of this plant with others. There are a few methods you can use to propagate coreopsis:

Division:

  • Best Time: spring or early fall, every 2-3 years to maintain robustness.
  • Dig Up: Carefully dig up an established coreopsis plant. Gently separate the clump into smaller sections, ensuring each section has a healthy root system and some shoots.
  • Replant: Plant the divided sections in well-draining soil at the same depth they were growing before. Water them well after planting.

Seeds

  • Best Time: Depending on the variety, Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks (refer to your seed packet directions for that variety’s sowing date) before the last expected frost or directly outdoors after the last frost.
  • Indoor Sowing: Start seeds indoors in seed trays with well-draining seed starting mix. Press the seeds lightly into the soil and keep them consistently moist. Transplant the seedlings outdoors once they’re established and the weather is suitable.
  • Direct Sowing: If you’re sowing outdoors, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Scatter the seeds over the soil and lightly press them in. Water gently to settle the soil around the seeds.

When working with seeds, always follow the seed label directions when sowing seeds.

Stem Cuttings

  • Best Time: Late spring.
  • Select Cuttings: Take 4-6 inch cuttings from healthy, non-flowering stems. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few leaves at the top.
  • Rooting Medium: Dip the cut end in rooting hormone if desired and plant it in a pot filled with a well-draining mix.
  • Provide Humidity: Cover the pot with a plastic bag or a clear plastic dome to create a humid environment. Place it in indirect light.
  • Transplanting: Once the cutting has rooted (in a few weeks to a couple of months), you can transplant it to its permanent location.

I’ve never propagated coreopsis plant this way, but know of others who have. For me, I’d rather divide or start them from seed.

pink coreopsis tickseed in the porch garden

Cutting Back Coreopsis to Get a Second Set of Blooms

Cutting back tickseed coreopsis to encourage a second set of blooms, also known as deadheading, is a straightforward process that can help prolong the flowering season and keep your plants looking tidy. I cut my coreopsis plants back about halfway through the season when the blooms start to fade.

Here’s how to do it.

Wait until the first round of blooms starts to fade and wilt. This is usually after the initial flowering burst, often in mid to late summer. By deadheading at the right time, you’re giving the plant a chance to redirect its energy into producing new blooms.

  • Inspect the Plant: Go through your coreopsis plant and identify the faded and spent flowers that are starting to wilt.
  • Cutting: Locate the stem just below the spent flower. Using your pruning shears or scissors, make a clean cut right above a set of healthy leaves or buds. Aim to cut the stem at a slight angle to discourage water pooling.
  • Repeat: Continue this process for all the faded flowers throughout the plant. If there are any stems with a mix of spent and healthy flowers, you can trim just the faded ones and leave the healthy ones intact.

To keep your tickseed coreopsis looking its best and to encourage continuous blooming, you can repeat the deadheading process as needed throughout the growing season. Regularly removing spent flowers prevents the plant from putting energy into seed production, which encourages it to put more effort into producing new flowers instead.

Fall blooms can be left on the plant for winter interest if desired. The perennial tickseed looks pretty in my garden when it is snow-covered. In this case, I wait to cut plants back in early spring.

close up of tickseed or coreopsis 'caramel creme' in my early summer garden tour
How gorgeous is coreopsis ‘caramel creme’

Coreopsis Varieties

Coreopsis is a diverse genus with numerous species and cultivated varieties, each offering a unique combination of colors, sizes, and growth habits. Here are some popular coreopsis varieties that you might consider for your garden:

  • Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis): Features fine, thread-like foliage and profuse yellow, pink, or red daisy-like flowers. Varieties like ‘Moonbeam’ and ‘Zagreb’ are well-known for their delicate appearance and extended blooming periods.
  • Coreopsis grandiflora (Large-Flowered Coreopsis): Known for its large, showy blooms that come in shades of yellow and gold. Varieties like ‘Sunfire’ and ‘Early Sunrise’ are popular choices for their vibrant flowers.
  • Coreopsis tinctoria (Plains Coreopsis): A wildflower variety with bright yellow and maroon-red bicolor flowers.Often grown for its attractive, multi-colored blooms.
  • Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf Coreopsis): A North American native with lance-shaped leaves and golden yellow flowers. Well-known varieties include ‘Sterntaler’ with maroon centers and ‘Goldfink’ for its compact growth.
  • Coreopsis rosea (Pink Coreopsis): Unlike the more common yellow varieties, this one offers charming pink or pale pink flowers. ‘Nana’ is a popular pink variety.
  • Coreopsis tripteris (Tall Coreopsis): Grows quite tall, reaching up to 6 feet in height, and produces yellow daisy-like blooms. Ideal for adding vertical interest to your garden.
  • Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull’: A unique and eye-catching variety with tubular, quill-shaped petals that resemble fireworks. It features golden-yellow flowers with red centers.
  • Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’: A newer variety known for its deep red flowers with contrasting yellow centers. ‘Red Satin’ adds a bold and dramatic touch to your garden.
  • Coreopsis ‘Golden Sphere’: This cultivar boasts round, double golden-yellow flowers that give the appearance of tiny pom-poms.Its compact size makes it suitable for containers and small gardens.
  • Coreopsis ‘Lil’ Bang™’ Series: This series includes compact varieties like ‘Enchanted Eve’ and ‘Red Elf,’ each with distinct colors and compact growth habits, making them excellent for smaller spaces.
LImelight hydrangea by the potager garden with green garden fence
Limelight hydrangea by the potager garden with moonbeam coreopsis.

Plants That Look Amazing With Coreopsis

If you aren’t sure what plants look good with coreopsis, I got you. There are lots of beautiful annuals, perennials, and shrubs you can plant with them, but here are some plant partner combinations that I’m drawn to.

close up of moonbeam coreopsis, butterfly weed and nepeta in cottage garden near a paver walkway - early summer Jersey garden tour

FAQs About Coreopsis

Where does coreopsis grow best?

Coreopsis is a sun-loving plant that thrives in full sun to partial sun conditions. It should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily for the best growth and flowering. Additionally, well-draining soil is crucial for coreopsis. It prefers soil that doesn’t become waterlogged, making it adaptable to various soil types, from sandy to loamy.

Does tickseed come back every year?

Yes, because tickseed coreopsis is a perennial plant it will come back year after year provided it’s grown in the right conditions and given proper care. 

Does coreopsis spread?

Yes, coreopsis has the potential to spread and naturalize in the right conditions. This ability to spread can be a valuable characteristic in some garden settings, but it’s also important to manage and control if you want to prevent it from becoming overly aggressive. 

I’ve not had the experience of seeing it get out of control in my gardens, but some tickseed species and varieties are known for their naturalizing tendencies. This means they can gradually spread creating larger patches or stands of plants over time. This can be desirable in wildflower meadows or areas where you want a naturalistic, low-maintenance appearance.

Tickseed can also be an aggressive self-seeder. Deadheading of spent flowers will help control self-seeding and encourage additional blooms.

coreopsis (tickseed), coneflowers and yarrow in small cottage garden - perennial flowers list that bloom in midsummer

Does coreopsis like sun or shade? 

As previously mentioned, coreopsis thrives in full sun where it will grow best and produce more abundant blooms, while maintaining a compact, bushy growth habit.

While coreopsis prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial sun conditions, especially in regions with hot summers. In partial sun, it may grow a bit taller and produce slightly fewer flowers, but it can still thrive and offer a burst of color to your garden.

Does tickseed attract ticks?

Despite its name, coreopsis plants themselves do not attract ticks. The genus name comes from the Greek words koris meaning “bug” and opsis meaning “like” in reference to the shape of the seed which resembles a bug or tick.

Ticks are generally drawn to environments with tall grasses and dense undergrowth, where they can more easily attach themselves to passing animals or humans. You’ll find them more in highly deer-populated areas. New Jersey, where I garden, is one of them.

But coreopsis, with its low-growing and bushy growth habit, is not typically the type of plant that attracts ticks.

Should coreopsis be cut back in the fall?

Whether or not to cut back coreopsis in the fall depends on the specific type of coreopsis and your local climate. Some coreopsis varieties benefit from fall pruning, while others may be left standing for winter interest and habitat for wildlife. Here are some guidelines to help you decide whether to cut back coreopsis in the fall:

In naturalistic or wildflower gardens, it’s often recommended to leave coreopsis plants standing through the winter. The dried seed heads provide food for birds and other wildlife and add interest to the winter garden.

In regions with harsh winters, it’s generally a good practice to cut back coreopsis in the fall to prevent the plant from becoming damaged or overly messy in the winter. In milder climates, where winter weather is less severe, you might choose to leave coreopsis standing for its winter appeal and wildlife benefits.

nepeta walkers low and moonbeam coreopsis (tickseed) in the driveway garden in new jersey zone 6a

Do you deadhead tickseed plants?

Yes, deadheading tickseed plants is a common and beneficial practice. Here’s why it’s a good idea to deadhead coreopsis plants:

  • Extended Blooming: Deadheading encourages the plant to produce new blooms. This can lead to an extended period of flowering, allowing you to enjoy the vibrant, daisy-like flowers for a longer time.
  • Neat Appearance: Removing spent flowers keeps the plant looking tidy and prevents it from appearing unkempt or leggy. This can contribute to an overall more attractive garden.
  • Energy Conservation: When you deadhead, you redirect the plant’s energy away from seed production and toward new flower development. This can result in more prolific and colorful blooms.
hibiscus flowers and moonbeam coreopsis

Is coreopsis a native plant?

Yes, tickseed, also known as coreopsis, is a native plant to North America! There are over 100 species of coreopsis that are native to various regions across the continent.

Some popular native tickseed varieties include:

  • Golden tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria): This cheerful annual species is native to the southeastern United States and features bright yellow flowers with maroon centers.
  • Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata): This perennial species is native to grasslands and prairies in the eastern and central United States and boasts sunny yellow flowers with narrow leaves.
  • Star tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata): This charming perennial species is native to central and eastern North America and produces delicate clusters of small yellow flowers.

Growing native plants like tickseed offers several benefits, including:

  • Supporting pollinators: Native plants have co-evolved with native pollinators, providing them with the nectar and pollen they need to thrive.
  • Encouraging biodiversity: Planting a variety of native plants creates a rich and diverse habitat for insects, birds, and other wildlife.
  • Promoting ecosystem health: Native plants often require less water and fertilizer than non-native plants, making them a more sustainable choice for your garden.

So, if you’re looking for a beautiful and beneficial addition to your garden, consider planting some native tickseed! You’ll be rewarded with stunning blooms, happy pollinators, and a garden that’s in harmony with its natural surroundings.

sedum autumn joy with moonbeam coreopsis and hardy hibiscus

More About Growing and Enjoying Tickseed Flower

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moonbeam coreopsis (tickseed) in the low-maintenance garden

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

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02/19/2024 06:08 am GMT

More Easy-Care Flowering Plants You Might Enjoy

If you’re seeking flowers that offer beauty without the hassle, there are several easy-care options that can effortlessly brighten up your garden or living space.

Wait until you see how easy and fun these blooms are to grow!

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different varieties of coreopsis (tickseed)
close up of. moonbeam coreopsis (tickseed)
chinese evergreen and white amaryllis flower with a clock

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Stacy Ling

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I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.

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