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What is Coreopsis?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Jay Garcia
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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Coreopsis is a genus belonging to the Asteraceae family that contains 35 species of flowering plants. Named from the Greek word koris to mean "bedbug," this genus is also known as "calliopsis." However, the most common nickname for it is ‘tickseed,’ or a variation thereof. For instance, some species are nicknamed depending on their locale, such as California tickseed, Texas tickseed, or Coastalplain tickseed. Likewise, other nickname variations are based on individual appearance, such as mouse-ear coreopsis, moonbeam coreopsis, and goldenmane tickseed.

The majory of species of this genus are native to North America. However, a few originate from Central or South America. It is a prolific plant that can tolerate harsh conditions, including heat, drought, and wind. In fact, coreopsis can be found thriving as a wayside simple along the road, naturalized in meadows, and even along the sandy seashore. When it was utilized in various highway beautification programs in Florida in the early 1990s, the state adopted this hardy plant as its official wildflower.

Most species of coreopsis are perennials that vary in height from nine inches (22.86 centimeters) to three feet (0.9144 meters). However, some varieties need to be divided every 2-3 years. All species sport vibrant flower heads with a daisy-like appearance. Blooms may be single or double and range in color from pale yellow to deep gold, with C. rosea being the sole pink variety.

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Coreopsis is propagated by clump division or by seed. However, some varieties easily self-seed and may become invasive in the garden. While all species of this genus are hardy and withstand poor soils, they require moderate to full sun. Periodic division will ensure strong growth and continued seasonal bloom.

Smaller varieties may be grown in containers or hanging baskets. This plant also naturalizes well in wild gardens or meadows. Coreopsis also makes an excellent edging plant for borders and retaining walls. It’s also a popular addition to cutting gardens since the stems and flowers are long-lasting in water. Very little fertilization, if any, is needed once it is established.

This plant is not generally vulnerable to garden pests. However, the larvae of some species of butterflies and moths will dine on the seeds, flowers, or leaves of the plant. In addition, some of these insects will continue to use the plant as a host after reaching adulthood, often spinning silk cases on the underside of its leaves.

It makes an excellent companion to many other cottage or prairie type garden plants. In fact, it looks particularly attractive next to flowering plants of contrasting color, such as Russian sage, purple coneflower, or false indigo. While coreopsis is valued for providing strong color through summer and autumn, it also provides interest in winter when the foliage turns a shade of cinnamon-brown.

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