How to Grow and Care for Lance-Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

A Native Wildflower That Requires Little Water and Care

Coreopsis lanceolata

watcherfox / Getty Images

Lanceleaf coreopsis is a wildflower that is native to the southeastern United States that has become a popular garden plant in other parts of the country. The solitary daisy-like flowers are golden-yellow emerge from slender, erect stems. The narrow, hairy, lance-shaped leaves (which gave this species its name) are clustered near the base of the plant. 

Coreopsis lanceolata blooms in spring to early summer and its nectar and pollen attract a wide range of beneficial native insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, day-flying moths, and beetles.

It is planted in the spring and has a moderate growth rate.

Common Name Lanceleaf coreopsis, lanceleaf tickseed, sand coreopsis
Botanical Name Coreopsis lanceolata
Family Astearceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 1-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full
Soil Type  Loamy, sandy, moist, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral 
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 4-9 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Coreopsis Lanceolata Care 

While all coreopsis species require little care, lanceleaf coreopsis is especially easy to care for. You don’t have to worry about drought and deer because it is resistant to both.

The plant can look a little unkempt later in the season so cutting it back keeps things tidy and prevents it from reseeding, which Coreopsis lanceolata does freely (but because it’s a native plant, this is not considered invasive). 

The only other routine care that is required is division every two to three years to maintain the vigor of the plant. 


Coreopsis lanceolata should get full sun to thrive. Lack of light leads to scraggly growth and reduced bloom.


The plant is very adaptable, as long as the soil has excellent drainage. It can grow in dry soil as well as shallow, rocky, and poor soil. 


New plants, or divided plants, should be watered until they are established. Once you know it’s established, you don’t need to give Coreopsis lanceolata extra water in dry spells.

Temperature and Humidity

As a native plant to the southeastern United States, Coreopsis lanceolata is tolerant of heat and humidity but it is also winter-hardy to USDA zone 4. 


Unless you planted Coreopsis lanceolata in extremely nutrient-deprived soil, you don’t need to fertilize it. It grows even in poor soil. 

Coreopsis lanceolata 'Sterntaler'
Coreopsis lanceolata 'Sterntaler'

Helena Bezold / Getty Images

Types of Coreopsis Lanceolata 

C. lanceolata and C. grandiflora are very similar species (the latter has larger flowers, as the botanical name “grandiflora” indicates), and they are often crossed. Popular varieties include: 

  • C. lanceolata ‘Sterntaler’ has double golden blooms with pretty brown centers. It has a compact clumping growth habit. 
  • C. lanceolata 'Brown Eyes' has a maroon-brown ring in the center of the golden flower. It grows 2 feet tall.
  • C. grandiflora 'Baby Sun' is a short cultivar with golden-yellow flowers with a band of red in the center. It only grows 10 to 16 inches tall. 
  • C. grandiflora 'Early Sunrise' has large, semi-double yellow-orange flowers that bloom from spring to fall if you keep the plant deadheaded. It reaches 18 to 24 inches in height and spreads 8 to 12 inches.
  • C. grandiflora 'Sunray' has large, double golden-yellow flowers and a compact, rounded growth habit of 18 inches in height and width. 


The plant does not need pruning but frequent deadheading of spent flowers prolongs the bloom period. If the plant looks a little scraggly in mid-summer, cut it back slightly to encourage a more compact growth.

Propagating Coreopsis Lanceolata

After two to three years, coreopsis needs to be divided so it maintains its vigor and compact shape. If not divided, Coreopsis lanceolata won’t live very long.

Dividing the plant is also an easy way to propagate it. The best time to do that is in the early spring. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Carefully dig up the entire plant, leaving the roots as intact as possible.
  2. With a sharp trowel or a garden knife, cut the clump into smaller sections. Discard the woody center of the plant. Each of the remaining sections should have several healthy roots.
  3. Replant the sections in a sunny location with excellent drainage, at the same depth as the original plant. Keep the new plants well-watered until they are established and show new growth. 

How to Grow Coreopsis Lanceolata from Seed

Like many coreopsis varieties, this variety can also be grown from seed. It often reseeds itself to form large, naturalized colonies.

  1. The seeds require 30 days of cold, most stratification to break their dormancy. This can be done in two ways. In late winter, sow the seeds outdoors in containers or in an outdoor weed-free seedbed. Or you can place the seeds in a sealed plastic bag with a damp paper towel and store in a refrigerator at 33 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 month before planting them in garden soil or in pots.
  2. Plant the seeds about 1/8 inch deep just below the soil surface; they need light to germinate.
  3. When the seedlings are 2 inches tall, you can transplant them into the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
Pearl crescent butterfly on lanceleaf coreopsis
Pearl crescent butterfly on lanceleaf coreopsis

CassieB03 / Getty Images

Potting and Repotting Coreopsis Lanceolata

The plant is suitable for container growing. Choose a container at least 8 to 10 inches deep and wide with large drainage holes and fill it with well-draining potting mix, as coreopsis does not like wet feet. The container should be large enough to allow the root system, which consists of fibrous rhizomes, to multiply freely. Divide and repot the plant in fresh potting mix when the roots have filled the pot.

Unlike in-ground plants, potted coreopsis needs regular watering, as containers heat up and potting soil dries out much faster than garden soil. 


The plant is hardy down to USDA zone 4 and does not need any special winter protection but it benefits from covering the base of the plant with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to protect the roots from the cold. Cut the foliage back almost to the ground late summer or early fall and it will regrow before dying back when the plant goes dormant. Leave the foliage on the plant and clean it up in the spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases 

Generally the plant has no serious insect or problems but it may attract slugs and snails as well can aphids, flea beetles, and cucumber beetles.

A commonly found but harmless disease is powdery mildew. Potential but rather rare diseases include botrytis blight, bacterial and fungal leaf spots, and aster yellows

Coreopsis lanceolata

Neilstha Firman / 500px / Getty Images

How to Get Coreopsis Lanceolata to Bloom

Unlike many other perennials, lanceleaf coreopsis blooms in the first year. But if it fails to bloom, the cause in most cases is lack of sun. Although it can tolerate some shade, it does best in full sun.

If the plant grows mostly leaves and no flowers, the soil might have been overfertilized with nitrogen, which could be runoff from an adjacent lawn that is fertilized regularly. Try to cut down on the lawn fertilizer, or move the plant to a different location farther away. 

Common Problems With Coreopsis Lanceolata

In soil that is too wet, especially in the winter months when the plant is dormant, it can develop stem rot or root rot, which shortens its life span. Soils that are too moist or overfertilized can also make the plant sprawl, developing weak stems that flop over.

The plant can also reseed quite aggressively, which can become a problem if it’s competing with other plants.

  • Is Coreopsis lanceolata a perennial?

    It is a perennial, but with a lifespan of only three to five years, it is rather short-lived. Dividing the plant every couple of years ensure you can enjoy the bloom in your garden summer after summer.

  • Does lanceleaf coreopsis spread?

    The plant spreads not by vegetative growth but by reseeding itself. If you don’t want it to spread, remove the spent flowerheads before they turn into seeds.

  • What happens to coreopsis in the winter?

    Coreopsis goes dormant in the winter and all the aboveground parts die back and shrivel.

  • Is lanceleaf coreopsis invasive?

    It is native to the United States and thus not invasive, but it is invasive in Asia. In Japan, where it was introduced as an ornamental in the 19th century, it is banned because it is choking out plant species.

Article Sources
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  1. Sand Coreopsis. Illinois Wildflowers.

  2. Coreopsis lanceolata. Invasive Species of Japan.