How to Grow Coreopsis

coreopsis flowers

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

If you're looking for a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, long-blooming flower to fill a bed or line a border, coreopsis plants (Coreopsis spp.) are a perfect choice. With more than 80 species of coreopsis, there's something to suit every garden design.

Coreopsis plants grow in upright clumps and feature masses of bright, showy, daisy-like flowers throughout the summer. Foliage of the species varies, with some having large green leaves and others sporting narrower leaves. One of their common names, tickseed, is supposedly for the round seeds' resemblance to ticks. Birds and other wildlife love to snack on the seeds during the fall and winter. Plus, bees and butterflies are drawn to the plants' colorful blooms.

Coreopsis species have a moderate growth rate and are best planted in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. Annual varieties will start blooming in early summer and repeat bloom periodically through fall, while perennial varieties will begin blooming the second year after planting.

Botanical Name Coreopsis spp.
Common Names Coreopsis, tickseed, calliopsis
Plant Type  Perennial, annual
Mature Size  1.5–4 ft. tall and wide (varies by species)
Sun Exposure  Full
Soil Type  Loamy, sandy, well-drained 
Soil pH  Neutral
Bloom Time  Summer, fall
Flower Color  Red, orange, yellow, pink, white
Hardiness Zones  3–10 (USDA)
Native Area  North America, Central America, South America
Toxicity Nontoxic
coreopsis flowers
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

Coreopsis Care

Overall, these plants don’t require much care when grown in their preferred environment. Be sure to select a planting site that gets lots of sun and has good soil drainage. Also, don't forget to account for the mature size of your species, leaving some space around each plant for air circulation. 

Plan to water regularly throughout the growing season (spring to fall). The taller coreopsis varieties might need staking as they mature; otherwise the stems might flop over. Moreover, deadheading your plants (removing the spent blooms) can keep them blooming throughout summer and into fall.

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Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Coreopsis

Light

Coreopsis plants will grow and bloom best in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. They can also grow in partial sun, but the plants might be lankier and not flower as profusely. However, in climates with very hot summers, the plants often prefer some afternoon shade.

Soil

These plants thrive in well-draining loamy or sandy soil with a fairly neutral soil pH. However, most coreopsis varieties are very easy to grow and aren't particular about soil quality or soil pH, as long as they aren't waterlogged. Heavy, wet clay soils should be amended with compost to help drainage.

Water

New coreopsis plants need regular water to keep the soil evenly moist (but not soggy) until they are established. After their first year, these plants have good drought tolerance, but they'll bloom most prolifically with regular watering. Water deeply whenever the soil is dry about an inch down. Early morning watering is best, so the leaves have a chance to dry during the day.

Temperature and Humidity

Coreopsis plants like warm temperatures between roughly 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. The various species have differing levels of cold tolerance. Humidity typically isn't an issue for these plants as long as they have good air circulation and proper watering and drainage.

Fertilizer

Fertilization typically isn't necessary unless you have very poor soil. Too much fertilizer can actually promote excessive foliage growth and hinder flowering. To give your plants a boost, mix a little compost into the soil in the spring.

Coreopsis Varieties

There are dozens of species and varieties of coreopsis, including:

  • Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise': Large, semi-double, bright yellow flowers starting in early summer
  • Coreopsis grandiflora 'Golden Showers': Profuse yellow blooms on long stems
  • Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam': Buttery yellow flowers on a compact plant
  • Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb': Golden yellow flowers on a compact plant
  • Coreopsis rosea 'Nana': Mauve-pink dwarf variety that spreads nicely but lacks some drought tolerance
Coreopsis Grandiflora 'Early Sunrise'
Coreopsis Grandiflora 'Early Sunrise' Bradley Olson / EyeEm / Getty Images 
Coreopsis Grandiflora 'Golden Showers'
Coreopsis Grandiflora 'Golden Showers' The Spruce / Adrienne Legault
Coreopsis Verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Coreopsis Verticillata 'Moonbeam'

 

Michael Hütten / EyeEm / Getty Images

Propagating Coreopsis

Although perennial coreopsis are rugged plants, they don't tend to live more than three to five years. A decrease in flowering is a signal that it's time to divide the plants (or to plant some new ones from seed) to propagate them. The best time to divide is in the spring or early fall.

To divide, first carefully dig up a clump, leaving the roots as intact as possible. Then, use a sharp trowel to split it into smaller sections with healthy roots on each section. Finally, replant the sections in suitable growing sites. Keep the new plants well watered until they are established and show visible signs of growth, which can take several weeks.

How to Grow Coreopsis From Seed

Many coreopsis varieties can be grown from seed and often will reseed themselves in your garden. Start seed indoors six to eight weeks before your area's projected last frost date, or directly plant seeds in your garden after your last frost. Plant the seeds roughly 1/2 inch deep, and keep the soil lightly moist and warm. Seedlings should emerge in about two to three weeks. Put indoor seedlings by a sunny window, and continue to keep the soil lightly moist. Indoor seedlings will need to be slowly acclimatized to the outdoors by taking them outside for longer stretches each day for about a week. Then, they’re ready to be planted in the garden.

Common Pests/Diseases

For the most part, coreopsis plants grow problem free. But in damp seasons, they might fall prey to snails and slugs, as well as to fungal diseases. Before turning to pesticides and fungicides, try to improve your plant's environment. Make sure it has plenty of air circulation, which can ward off pests and fungal problems. And note whether it's getting enough sunlight. Divide overgrown clumps where the centers aren't getting much air or light.