How to Grow and Care for Bidens

yellow bidens flowers

The Spruce / Kara Riley

You may not be familiar with the name, but there is a good chance you’ve spotted the prolific Bidens plant with its daisy-like blooms. These flowering plants typically have blooms in yellow or orange, but newer varieties include pink, gold, and white blossoms. In warmer climates where winter temperatures stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bidens are a perennial plant. Though they lose their blooms in late fall and winter, the beautiful foliage of this plant stays green all year long. In northern climates where winter temperatures fall below freezing, they are considered an annual and need to be replanted each year. 

Common Name Bidens
Botanical Name Bidens
Family Name Asteraceae
Plant Type Annual, perennial 
Mature Size 6-12 in. tall, 1-3 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow, Gold, White, Pink, Orange
Hardiness Zones 8, 9, 10, 11
Native Area North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia
closeup of bidens flowers

The Spruce / Kara Riley

growing bidens in a container

The Spruce / Kara Riley

planting bidens

The Spruce / Kara Riley

Bidens Care

Growing virtually all types of bidens is relatively easy. These plants have abundant greenery growth and produce many blooms—as long as they have rich soil and sufficient drainage. They tolerate drought and heat relatively well and require full sun.

You won’t need to deadhead the plant for it to continue blooming during its long flowering season of May to October. The prolific plant continuously produces new foliage to cover dying blooms, and new flowers quickly take their place. In the winter, the plant will die off if temperatures fall below freezing. In zones 8-11, it will grow as a perennial.

Popular in both gardens and containers, bidens are considered an excellent choice as a groundcover or spiller plant. Newer varieties also offer more upright choices.

Light

Bidens prefer full sun conditions for the biggest and best blooms. Any location you choose to plant bidens should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Without adequate light, the plant will still grow but may not produce as many blooms and is likely to be leggy.

Soil

Whether you’re planting bidens in an outdoor garden or a container, ensure that they have well-drained soil to avoid problems with root rot. In addition, this abundantly blooming plant thrives in rich, humus soil. It can tolerate a variety of pH levels in soil but generally does best in neutral to slightly acidic soil types.

Water

These plants are considered fairly drought-resistant. However, they do require regular watering for their best appearance and longevity. An inch of water per week is typically sufficient; water before wilting begins.

Temperature and Humidity

Warm temperatures don’t put a damper on the growth and blooming of most varieties of bidens. With many of these plants being native to warm-weather locales like Hawaii, Mexico, and Polynesia, it’s safe to say that they won’t mind a little heat and humidity.

The drought-resistant quality of this plant also helps it to endure hot, dry conditions. However, if such a spell of dry weather persists, it’s best to provide these plants with regular watering to offset the impact of the heat on the plant’s foliage and blooms.

On the other hand, if temperatures dip too low, bidens plants will suffer. These plants are not frost-resistant and will die at temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer

To flourish, the abundantly flowering bidens plant will require nutrient-rich soil. How much fertilizer to use and what type is generally specified by the specific type of bidens plant you’re growing.

It’s generally recommended to supplement this plant with a general-purpose fertilizer or to use a timed-release fertilizer when planting. Fertilizer is especially important if you are growing bidens in a container.

Types of Bidens

There are more than 200 species of bidens plants with native types in such far-flung places as Hawaii, Mexico, and Europe. In the United States, these plants are considered native species in every state except Wyoming.

If you encounter wild-growing bidens, you’ll recognize them for the tiny, sticky seeds that cling to your clothing or in your dog’s fur. The good news is that most commercially available bidens have been cultivated to avoid the sticky seed problem. Here are a few:

  • Bidens alba: Resembling a daisy, this bidens plant variety features white petals and a bright yellow center. It’s also sometimes referred to as beggarticks or Spanish needles. 
  • Bidens 'Campfire Burst': This variety of bidens is hard to miss, thanks to the brightly-hued flowers crowning each plant. The tri-colored petals are shaded inward from a deep red to blazing orange and zippy yellow. They flower abundantly from the summer into the fall and are a great colorful addition to any landscape design.
  • Bidens ferulifolia 'Golden Nugget': With yellow petals that resemble a star and an orange center, the Golden Nugget variety is one of the most eye-catching bidens plants. It’s a native of Mexico and is also called the Apache beggartick or fern-leaved beggartick, courtesy of its fine, soft foliage.

Pruning

Bidens are easy to maintain and don’t need to be pruned or deadheaded. However, in favorable growing conditions, you might choose to prune the plant back if it becomes too large. Also, pinching or cutting back the plant can make it denser and encourage new blooms.

Propagating Bidens

It’s relatively easy to turn one bidens plant into many, since these plants can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or through dividing.

If you want to propagate by cuttings, take an actively growing stem with a node from the plant. Plant it in moist, rich potting soil and water generously and often until new growth emerges.

You can divide bidens plants to create more of these flowering beauties. For bidens growing as perennials in southern regions, wait to divide the plants until the spring.

How to Grow Bidens From Seed


To propagate by seed, you should plan to sow the seeds at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. Keep in mind that this plant prefers warm weather, so wait until after the last frost if you’re sowing seed in an outdoor location.

Overwintering

Bidens will die back in the winter if temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and will need to be planted again in the spring. In areas where the temperatures never get that low, expect them to bounce back in the spring. A 2-inch layer of mulch might help ensure they stay hearty.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Bidens might have issues with whiteflies, which can be remedied with earthworm castings sprayed at the base of the plant. Botrytis and pythium are common diseases that might affect bidens plants. The cure is often the use of a broad-spectrum fungicide.

How to Get Bidens to Bloom

Bidens are very hearty plants that want to bloom prolifically. There's no need to deadhead them to increase the blooms, but ensuring they are in good soil, with rich fertilizer and plenty of water, as essential steps to ensuring bidens plants grow at their best.

Bidens alba flower
Bidens alba
yujie chen / Getty Images


 


Bidens Campfire Burst flower
Bidens Campfire Burst Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images
Bidens ferulifolia "Golden Nugget" flowers
Bidens ferulifolia "Golden Nugget" Naomi Rahim / Getty Images
FAQ
  • Can bidens grow indoors?

    While bidens are a popular pick for gardens and landscaping, they also make an excellent choice for container gardening. The abundant foliage and flowers are well-suited to flower boxes or hanging planters. Much of the care of bidens grown in containers remains the same, however, it will be important to fertilize these plants since they require rich soil for flowering and overall vitality.

  • How long will bidens live?

    That depends upon the region. In areas where the temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bidens will die back in the winter.

  • Where should I place bidens in my house?

    If you're going to grow bidens in a container garden in your home, make sure it gets direct, full sunlight. A sunny windowsill will work wonders for this plant.