Bidens Plant Profile

Bidens ferulifolia 'Pirate Pearl' flowers

Dorit Bar-Zakay / Getty Images

You may not be familiar with the term bidens plant, but there is a good chance you’ve spotted this prolific growing plant with daisy-like blooms. Part of the aster family, there are more than 200 species of bidens plants with native types in such farflung places as Hawaii, Mexico, and Europe. In the United States, these plants are considered a 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.

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. 

Botanical Name Bidens
Common Name Bidens
Plant Type Annual or perennial 
Mature Size 6-12 inches tall,  1-3 feet wide
Sun Exposure Medium to full sun
Soil Type Rich and well-drained
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow, Gold, White, Pink, Orange
Hardiness Zones 8 to 11
Native Area Americas, Africa, Polynesia, Europe, Asia

How to Grow Bidens

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 part to full sun.

You won’t need to deadhead the plant for it to continue blooming during its long flowering season of May to October. In the winter, the plant will die off if temperatures fall below freezing. Otherwise, it will retain its greenery through the winter months and rejuvenate in the spring.

Popular in both gardens and in containers, bidens are considered an excellent choice as a spiller plant.

Light

Bidens can grow in partial sun conditions, but for the biggest and best blooms, full sun is preferred. Any location you choose to plant bidens should receive at least 4 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 leggier.

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 is generally considered to do 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 under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In climates that keep above this threshold, the plant will return year after year as a perennial. Otherwise, it will need to be re-planted as an annual each year.

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.

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.

To propagate by seed, you should plan to sow the seeds at the end of winter or 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.

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.

Finally, 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.

Varieties of Bidens

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 a blazing orange and a 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.

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

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.

Being Grown in Containers

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.