While we will talk about Coreopsis, we’re looking at one of the great backbone perennial flowers and gardens. This plant is one of the longest blooming perennials you can find and is tough to boot if you get the right cultivar.
While there are approximately 80 species of Coreopsis native to North and South America, there are only a handful earning their keep in garden cultivation.
It is also known as Tickseed and sometimes as Butter Daisy
How To Grow
- Full Sun
- Grows between 12 to 24 inches tall depending on variety
- Soil – loves well drained soil although surprisingly C. rosea will tolerate boggy conditions. All prefer even moisture.
- Propagation: Mostly division or cuttings in the home garden
- Hardiness: USDA zone 4 – some of C.lanceolata and C. grandiflora varieties are more tender and shorter lived (but bigger flowers)
- Width Apart: 12 – 18 inches.
Note – C. verticillata varieties are very late starting to grow in the spring (right along with Hibiscus)
All make excellent cut flowers.
Varieties and Plants to Look For
The annual Coreopsis is C. tinctoria and in a full sun garden it can reach three to four feet in height. Easily grown as a hardy annual (you can sow it outside) this showy yellow and dark red daisy puts on quite a flower display. If the gardener deadheads or shears the plant vigorously, a second bloom can be encouraged. It is readily available in seed catalogues; and, you’ll get a better plant starting it in the ground in your garden than you will if purchased from a garden centre. The plant grows too quickly to make a good pack or pot plant and the stress invariably put on it lessens its garden performance.
C. grandiflora is the common Butter daisy found in many garden centres. Easily grown from seed and only living in the garden for a few years, this plant is a friend of the low priced perennial grower. If started in January or February, it will easily bloom the first year in the garden. (A good thing too because it will often die after the first year if the garden is too fertile) This is another plant that can easily be started by the determined gardener.
Seed or plants of varieties such as:
- Badengold’ a deep yellow and three feet tall,
- ‘Early Sunrise’ eighteen inches, semi-double and light gold,
- ‘Mayfield Giant’ a three footer with one and a half inch, bright yellow single blooms will be easily found in catalogues or garden centres.
Seed started as late as March 15 will easily bloom in the first garden year. Seed tucked away in the garden for starting will likely bloom in the second year.
Another of the easily grown but short lived forms is C. lanceolata. Look for varieties such as
- ‘Baby Gold’ a good short heavy flowering form,
- ‘Baby Sun’ another short, yellow bloomer, ‘
- Brown Eyes’ with its darker flower centre,
- ‘Double Sunburst’ a semi double, pure yellow with medium sized blossoms, and
- ‘Sunburst’ a full double yellow.
In my garden, both the Coreopsis grandiflora and Coreopsis lanceolata are long season bloomers if the spent flowers are regularly removed throughout the growing season.
To really enjoy this family, it is important to put two other species into your garden.
The first is C. rosea. As you might imagine from the name “rosea”, the flowers on this species are pink. Blooming from the end of June until the beginning or middle of September, this eighteen inch tall perennial will win a place in your garden heart.
Extremely hardy and very long lived, this is a perfect plant for the front of a very sunny border. I experimented two years ago and put one into a part shade garden – took it out this spring as it never bloomed.
It prefers a regular soil and will not grow particularly well on heavy clay. Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby’ is a delightful new variety of Coreopsis that is well worth growing even though it is quite tender (likely zone 7).
There are other hybrids coming on the market such as ‘Autumn Blush’ that may prove hardier.
Coreopsis ‘Autumn Blush’
The second excellent species is Coreopsis verticillata, the Threadleaf Butterdaisy. The leaves on this species are much thinner than other forms and it shares the long season bloom of C. rosea as well as its hardiness and ease of care.
Varieties to look for include
- ‘Moonbeam’ a very soft, pale yellow;
- ‘Zagreb’ a golden yellow with a slightly larger flower and
- ‘Golden Showers’ a bright, mid-yellow bloomer.
All of the Butter daisies make excellent cut flowers although the flowers of C. rosea and C. verticillata are only three quarters of an inch across. I note when you have hundreds of blooms on a single plant – bloom size is irrelevant in the garden.
While both C. rosea and C. verticillata do set seed in the garden, I’ve never had any luck starting them from seed. Instead, I propagate them by division or by taking cuttings. They are one of the few plants that will root from a flowering cutting so cuttings can be taken anytime the stem is soft.