How to Grow and Care for 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 a varietal to suit every garden design.

Native to North America, coreopsis plants grow in upright clumps and feature masses of bright, showy, daisy-like flowers throughout the summer. The foliage of the species varies, with some varietals boasting large green leaves and others sporting narrower greenery. One of the plant's common names, tickseed, is a nod to its round seeds, which resemble ticks. Birds and other wildlife love to snack on the seeds during the fall and winter, while bees and butterflies are drawn to the colorful blooms.

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

Common Name Coreopsis, tickseed, calliopsis
Botanical Name Coreopsis spp.
Family Asteraceae
Plant Type  Perennial, annual
Mature Size  2–4 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide (varies by species)
Sun Exposure  Full sun
Soil Type  Sandy, well-drained 
Soil pH  Neutral to acidic
Bloom Time  Summer, fall
Flower Color  Red, orange, yellow, pink, white
Hardiness Zones  2–11, USA
Native Area  North America, Central America, South America
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Coreopsis Care

Overall, coreopsis plants don’t require much care when grown in their preferred environment. 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—when planting, leave some space around each plant for air circulation. 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 the plant blooming throughout summer and into fall.

coreopsis flowers
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault 

Light

Coreopsis plants will grow and bloom best in full sun, which means at least six to eight hours of direct light on most days. They can also grow in partial sun, but the plants might be lankier and not flower as profusely. In climates with very hot summers, some afternoon shade is welcome.

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. In fact, some of the most profuse blooming comes from coreopsis plants that are growing on the untamed border of roadways or other "forgotten" areas. 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—it allows the leaves a chance to dry out during the day.

Temperature and Humidity

Coreopsis plants like warm temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. That being said, various species of coreopsis have differing levels of cold tolerance. High levels of humidity typically aren'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 for coreopsis plants unless you have very poor soil. Too much fertilizer can actually promote excessive foliage growth at the expense of the plant flowering. To give your plants a boost, you can mix a little compost into the soil at the beginning of spring.

Types of Coreopsis

There are dozens of species and varieties of coreopsis, which mostly differ in appearance rather than care. Some of the most popular varietals for outdoor cultivation include:

  • Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise': A varietal with large, semi-double, bright yellow flowers that start blooming in early summer
  • Coreopsis grandiflora 'Golden Showers': A varietal with profuse yellow blooms on longer-than-average stems
  • Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam': A varietal with buttery yellow flowers and a compact, dense shape
  • Coreopsis rosea 'Nana': A mauve-pink dwarf varietal that spreads nicely but lacks 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 good 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 the plant is the spring or early fall—here's how:

  1. First carefully dig up a clump of a mature plant, leaving the roots as intact as possible.
  2. Use a sharp trowel to split the clump into smaller sections, making sure there are several healthy roots present on each section.
  3. Replant the sections in a suitable growing site. Keep the new plants well-watered until they're 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, at which point you can put the 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 long stretches each day for about a week. Then, they’re ready to be planted in the garden.

Common Pests & Plant 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.

How to Get Coreopsis to Bloom

One of the most important factors in ensuring your coreopsis blooms each season is planting the flowers somewhere where the plant gets ample light. If you're noticing that your plant is struggling to bloom, too much shade may be to blame. If there's not a spot in your landscape that boasts six to eight hours of direct light a day, plant your coreopsis in a pot so you can move it around your lawn occasionally to "chase" the light.

It's important to reiterate that coreopsis does not need fertilization. In fact, doing so can cause the plant to grow disproportionally—too much fertilizer can cause the plant to put all of its energy into growing its stem and leaves, and not enough energy into bud production. If it looks like your coreopsis could use a boost, look to add organic matter to the soil instead. Additionally, deadheading spent blooms can also prompt the plant to produce additional buds.

FAQ
  • Are coreopsis plants easy to care for?

    Yes—coreopsis plants do not require much attention and tend to thrive on a bit of neglect.

  • How long can coreopsis last?

    Coreopsis plants can remain in good health for up to five years. At that point, while the plant may not die off, it will slowly begin to deteriorate, producing fewer blooms and new growth. It's recommended to replace your coreopsis plants with new plantings every few years.

  • How fast does coreopsis grow?

    Coreopsis plants grow at a moderately fast pace and will establish themselves in your garden within a few months. However, when started from seed, coreopsis will not flower until their second year.

Article Sources
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  1. Threadleaf Coreopsis. University of Illinois Extension

  2. Tickseed. Oklahoma State University Extension