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How to Grow: Tickseed
Learn about tickseed or coreopsis, including varieties and how to plant and grow them.
Listen to Podcast:
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Early to late summer in various shades of yellow, pink and red
Mature Height x Spread
1 to 2 feet x 1 to 2 feet
attracts beneficials, drought tolerant, native, deer resistant
Tickseed is a common native, perennial flower that tolerates a wide range of sun and soil conditions. There are many newer varieties of tickseed with a wide range of flower colors, such as pink, red and bi colors, but these tend to be not as consistently hardy in all parts of our region. Tickseed leaves vary in shape from lobed-shaped to thin and thread-like, depending on the variety. The plants produces small single or semi-double, daisy-like, flowers in summer. The flowers of some varieties are also good for cutting. Since they grow in less than ideal soil fertility conditions as long as the soil is well drained, tickseed ranks with daylilies as one of the easiest perennial flowers to grow.
Where, When and How to Plant
While many species of tickseed are hardy throughout New England, some species will be only short-lived. Plant seeds indoors under grow lights 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date and transplant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. You can also purchase transplants from the local garden center or obtain divisions from a friend’s garden. Plant spring to early fall in a full or part sun location on well-drained soil. Space plants 1 foot apart.
Water new plants well. Once established, tickseed needs little care and is drought tolerant. Mulch plants with bark mulch to keep the soil moist and weeds away.
Regional Advice and Care
During periods of wet summer weather, the soil must be well drained or the plant can develop crown rot. Tickseed can self-sow readily. Weed out self-sown seedlings in spring. Taller varieties can tend to sprawl and may need support to keep from flopping over. Generally tickseed doesn’t have problems with insects and diseases. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years to rejuvenate the mother plant and produce more transplants for planting elsewhere in the garden or giving away. Cut back the plants to the ground in fall after a frost.
Companion Planting and Design
Plant tickseed flowers with coneflowers, blazing star, rudbeckia, and gaillardia. Grow taller varieties in meadows and wildflower plantings. Tickseed is also a favorite of butterflies. Plant some close to the house or deck.
“Moonbeam” is a popular, pale yellow colored variety that only grows 1 foot tall with small, fern-like leaves. “Creme Brulee” is similar looking to “Moonbeam”, but is a more vigorous growing plant. “Early Sunrise” grows 16 to 20 inches tall and has semi-double flowers. However, it can be a short-lived in our climate. “Flying Saucers” has sterile yellow flowers that won’t self-sow, It’s a stronger plant, more reliably returns each year, and won’t spread as much as other varieties. “American Dream” is a pink flowered variety that grows 8 to 16 inches tall, but may need protection in colder parts of our climate.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.
You’d think a flower whose common name refers to a tiny bug wouldn’t be a highly desirable plant, but coreopsis or tickseed is a beautiful flower for your garden.
Coreopsis is a native flower and you’ll find versions of it across the country. In the wild it has small yellow, daily-like blooms reminiscent of its aster family roots. But recent breeding has expanded the range of flower colors and made this common wildflower a beauty. ‘Early Sunrise’ features double yellow flowers on 20-inch tall plants. ‘Desert Sunrise’ features coral and peach colored flowers on 10-inch tall plants. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is another short variety with white and raspberry colored flowers. The classic ‘Moonbeam’ has pale yellow flowers with finely cut foliage. You get the idea. There are many variations in plant size and flower color to match whatever flower you’re growing near by. However, some of these unusual colored versions aren’t as hardy as the species types, and are short-lived. They do self-sow, but of course, the hybrids won’t come true to seed.
Not only do coreopsis put on a show, they’re deer resistant, a favorite of butterflies, a good cut flower and the goldfinches love eating those “tick” sized seeds on the spent flower heads. The key to growing coreopsis is full sun, hot conditions and well-drained soil. Grow coreopsis in the front of a sunny flower border, along a south-facing wall or even in a container. The taller types pair well with gaillardia and echinacea. The thread-leaf types with their airy foliage look good near salvias and liatris. After they flower cut back the plant by 1/3rd, to stimulate new growth and more flowers.