The coreopsis flower (tickseed) is a long-blooming perennial that flowers from early summer until fall frost. Planted in fall or spring, this deer-resistant native is beloved by bees and butterflies. Here’s how to plant this fan favorite—as well as deadhead coreopsis and other growing tips.
About Coreopsis (Tickseed)
The name “coreopsis” stems from the Greek koris, for “bedbug,” and opis, meaning “resembling,” because the seeds look like little bedbugs. The common name is tickseed, which comes from the seeds’ resemblance to ticks.
Coreopsis is usually planted as a perennial which spreads with rhizomatous roots. However, there are annual types, too, that tend to be short-lived, and self-sow. The annual varieties are often included in wildflower seed mixes. Some hybrids put energy into making colorful blooms (but set few seeds).
The daisy-like yellow, red, orange, pink, and violet flowers bloom from summer to fall. Even as other summer flowers fade in the fall, coreopsis is often still strong. Countless small blooms sit atop thin, branching stems, making coreopsis suitable for planting in a number of areas. Not only do bees and butterflies love its nectar, but also small birds, such as goldfinches, love its seeds.
This low-maintenance plant makes few demands. It tolerates heat, humidity, and drought, and when cut, adds cheer to a bouquet. Plant in masses for striking visual effects. It is well suited to beds, borders, and containers.
Coreopsis requires full sun and good drainage, but they will grow and bloom (to a lesser extent) in partial sun, as well. It tolerates poor soil but not clay. Add compost to improve drainage before planting.
When to Plant Coreopsis
Perennial coreopsis plants can be planted anytime from spring through early fall.
Annual varieties should be seeded directly in the ground after the last spring frost.
If you wish to start earlier indoors, sow indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost.
How to Plant Coreopsis
Set perennial transplants 12 to 18 inches apart.
If planting annuals, do not cover seeds. They need light for germination.
If starting indoors, use a potting mix that containers wither peat moss or perlite. Keep indoor seeds warm (70 degrees F or so), and moist.
Water until plants are established.
Water established coreopsis plants during dry spells.
Be careful with fertilizer which may cause spindly plants with few flowers. Only apply 10-10-10 lightly in spring, if desired.
Deadhead flowers for continuous blooms, removing both the spent flower and its stalk.
In mid- to late summer, when flowers fade, shear off 1/4 to 1/2 of growth to encourage late-season reblooming.
After a couple of fall frosts, cut perennials back to 6 to 8 inches to protect the crowns. Remove plant debris. Or, leave the seed heads on the plants in the fall for the birds.
Spread a layer of compost, then a layer of mulch, around—not on—the crown.
Annual varieties can be dug up and discarded after a few frosts.
Divide perennials every 3 to 4 years in spring or early fall.
Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Tickseed) ‘Zagreb’: golden yellow; 12 to 18 inches tall; hardy in Zones 4 to 9
C. grandiflora ‘SunKiss’: large yellow flowers with burgundy centers; 12 to 14 inches; ideal for cutting; hardy in Zones 4 to 9
C. auriculata ‘Snowberry’: creamy white flowers with burgundy centers; 24 to 30 inches tall; hardy in Zones 3 to 8
C. auriculata ‘Nana’: yellow flowers; 2 to 4 inches tall; makes a beautiful ground cover; hardy in Zones 4 to 9
Annual native C. tinctoria (aka plain coreopsis and calliopsis): yellow-red flowers with dark-red centers; 2 to 4 feet tall; hardy in Zones 2 to 11
Hybrid C. ‘Razzle Dazzle’: large violet-purple blooms with white tips; 16 to 22 inches; hardy in Zones 5 to 9
Hybrid C.‘Moonbeam’: light creamy yellow, 12 to 18 inches tall; hardy in Zones 4 to 9