How to Grow Coreopsis (Tickseed) – Beginner’s Care Guide

Coreopsis is an easy to grow flowering plant that’s tall, proud, and offers a variety different colors for your garden.

It thrives on neglect and doesn’t need anything than regular watering and trimming.

It can grow in poor soil conditions. And it’s drought-tolerant!

Plus it’s resistant to deer, rabbits, and brings in beneficial pollinators.

If you’ve ever wanted to get that “wild field of flowers” in your backyard, this is it.

Let’s learn about tickseed and cover what you need to know.

Quick care guide: Coreopsis

Plant type Annual OR perennial
Origin North American, Central America, South America, Mexico
Scientific name Coreopsis
Other names Tickseed, Pot of Gold, Calliopsis
Soil type Loamy, well-draining, sandy
Soil pH 6-7.5 (slightly acidic, neutral, slightly alkaline)
Sunlight requirement Full sun
Bloom season Spring, summer, fall
Colors Yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, red, green, white, lavender
Max height 4 feet
Max width 3 feet
Low temperature 50F
High temperature 90F
Ideal temperature range 70-80F
Humidity Moderate
Watering requirements 1-2 inches per week
Fertilizer requirements None
Fertilizer NPK Balanced if used
Days until germination 3-4 weeks
Days until bloom 1-2 years
Speed of growth Moderate
Hardiness zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Plant depth 1/8 inch (from seed), 6-12 inches (from cuttings)
Plant spacing 10 inches
Propagation Seeds, division, cuttings
Common pests Aphids, coreopsis beetles
Common diseases Powdery mildew, crown rot, stem rot, root rot, downy mildew
Indoor plant No
Outdoor plant Yes
Grown in container Yes
Flowering plant Yes
Beginner friendly Yes
Care level Low (easy)
Uses Decoration, color, centerpiece, pathing, bordering, background plant, foreground plant, companion plant, coverage

What’s coreopsis?

Yellow coreopsis flowers in the garden.
These can be yours.

Coreopsis, also known as Whorled Tickseed or Pot of Gold, grows natively in the US and you may have already seen this plant in your daily routine.

You may recognize it as the state flower of Florida.

Native to the Asteraceae family, they’re similar to daisies with their large petals and brown or maroon centers. They can be anywhere from yellow to pink to white. And everything in between!

Did you know it’s also known as tickseed due to the seeds in the flowers looking like small ticks? Fun fact.

They have tall, thin stems topped off with yellow, red, or white flowers. The flowers are bright and plentiful with their toothed petals and flat tops.

Each flower is upright and can grow up to 48 inches tall and 36 inches wide. The tiny stems hold the large flowers high and bloom in the early spring to fall.

These provide lasting perennial color in the summer after others fade for the winter.

They’re easy to grow once you get them started. All they need is water and regular pruning. Once you grow them once, you’ll get addicted!

You can now find coreopsis in all colors of the rainbow from private and commercial growers so you’re sure to find something that goes well in your garden.

Is it easy to grow?

Similar to other perennial flowers like Nippon Daisies, Virginia Bluebells, or Globe Amaranth, coreopsis is extremely easy to grow and beginner-friendly.

If you live in hardiness zones 4-7, you should be able to grow it with minimal care. It takes care of itself.

So whether you’re a grizzled green thumb or you’re completely new to gardening, tickseed is a good choice to start with.

It can help add some color to your yard within a season or two.

Types of tickseed

Tickseed bloom.
Tickseed is goregous.

There are dozens of different cultivars, but here are some of the most popular ones you may come across:

  • Rum Punch: Pink blooms on 18-inch stems
  • Pumpkin Pie: Golden orange blooms with an 8-inch height.
  • Garnet: Pink overwintering plant with 10-inch tall flowers.
  • Little Penny: Copper and brown, 12 inches tall.
  • Citrine: Yellow bright blooms with only 5-inch height.
  • Limerock Dream: Grown as an annual and only 5 inches tall. Pink and brown.
  • Pink Lemonade: Pink with an 18-inch height.
  • Creme Brule: Yellow and hardy in zones 5-9. 18 inches tall.
  • Coreopsis Grandiflora: The “main” golden yellow plant with 30 inches of height!

There are a lot more specialized and unique ones you can find.

Do your research and see what grows in your hardiness zone. Then pick the colors you like.

Growing it is easy.

Choosing the one you want is hard.

What does it look like?

Tickseed is a tall, upright flowering perennial that can get up to 4 feet. It has large petals that range in color but is typically seen as that bright orange-yellow one.

The flowers are so big that taller cultivars may tip over unless you stake them.

The leaves are green with tiny, skinny stems that make you wonder how such a thin stem can hold up such a big flower on top of it.

How to propagate tickseed

Tickseed macro shot.
Look at those striking petals.

Propagation is straightforward. You can plant it by seed or by transplant.

Let’s go over both techniques. Tickseed can also be grown from cuttings or division.

This is best reserved for perennials that are at least 5 years old. By then, they stop producing flowers and will need to be divided to continue.

Regardless, let’s cover the common ways to propagate tickseed.

Starting from seed

Start by reading the directions on your seed pack.

Since there are so many varieties and hybrids, you need to make sure that the one you’re planning to grow is in the right zone.

If your outdoor temperature is above 60F and the last frost date has already passed, then you can sow directly into the soil.

Scatter the seeds or plot them in rows. If you want that natural look, scattering works. But if you want a cleaner look, then do row planting.

A thin layer of soil covering each seed is good enough.

Keep them moist and continue watching until they germinate. Thin as needed. Ideally, give each coreopsis plant about 10” of space in all directions.

This is the most rewarding method but takes a long time to bloom. If you don’t have patience, skip it.

For other zones where the outdoor temperatures drop below 60F, sow indoors.

Take the seeds and start by sowing the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. You can look it up if you don’t know when it is.

Use a seed starter tray and put 2 seeds in each compartment. You can use a biodegradable pot if you’re only growing a few so you can plant it directly into the soil layer to minimize plant shock.

Keep the soil un-amended and keep it in full sun. You can cover the seeds with regular soil or use perlite.

Use a humidity dome to cover the seeds. This will help with germination.

If you want to have blooms all season, sow in succession. This means growing one tray after the other in timed intervals.

Mist each seed compartment with water and leave it near a window that gets about 8 hours of sunlight per day. It doesn’t matter if you’re slightly above or below this.

Don’t put the seeds in direct light.

Use filtered light if possible. If your dome is condensing and fogging up, use less water or move it to a different window. A bit of fog is good. But if there’s so much fog that you can’t see the dirt, that’s no good.

Alternatively, you can use a grow light if you have no good locations in your house to sow them. Note that grow lights are weaker and therefore require more time shining on the seeds.

Typically, you’ll leave the light on for at least 14 hours a day. Keep it at the right distance by reading the directions included with your grow light.

Continually mist and keep it moist. Don’t overdo it. The temperature should remain above 60F at all times for optimal germination.

Expect seedlings after 3 weeks of incubation. After that, let them grow by misting and keeping them above 60F until they grow a few pairs of true leaves.

They’re ready for transplant when the last frost date is over.

Starting from transplant

Traveling allows you to skip the germination and waiting time, plus it guarantees that your plant will germinate (after all, it’s already germinated).

But some people like the suspense of seeing when those first few seedlings show up.

And others say it’s more rewarding. But whatever the case, not everyone has the time to start from seed.

Get your plants from your favorite local nursery. Harden them off by exposing them to the outdoor elements for a few hours daily.

Bring them back inside at night.

Do this for a week or so then get ready to transplant.

Start by spacing each plant about 12” apart. If you want a fuller look, 12” is good. You can distance them if needed to help keep it and tidy. It’s all preference.

Use nutrient-dense soil, but don’t add any supplements or amendments if unnecessary.

You should check the soil conditions using a soil meter to find out the profile of your soil’s complaint if you don’t know about it.

Check the next section for soil specifics, like pH, spacing, and planting depth. Typically, for a transplant, you’ll want to plant it as deep as the original container it came in. So try to recreate it in your backyard.

Give them a good watering and continue to do so each week.

Depending on your local climate, these plants only need 1-2 inches of water per week.

Account for rainwater as that makes a huge difference. In some places, the rain itself is enough to water coreopsis.

From cuttings

You can also plant it from cuttings in mid-summer.

Take a full-grown stem and cut it. Then replant it. Rooting hormones may be used to help encourage growth.

Note that after a few years, tickseed starts to produce fewer flowers each season.

This means it’s time for you to divide them. This will help propagate them so they bloom continuously.

The best time to propagate is in the early spring or early fall. Avoid doing so during the winter or summertime.

How to grow tickseed

Growing and caring for coreopsis is a joy. This plant doesn’t ask for a whole lot and will take care of itself once you get it going.

Other than weekly watering and some basic pruning, it’ll thrive and cheer up your garden with ease!

Let’s dive in to see how you and provide some TLC.

Hardiness zone

The first step to success with any plant is to make sure you’re in the right USDA hardiness zone. Coreopsis grows well in zones 3-9. Check your zone here.

Depending on where you’re located and the species you get, this can influence everything from how many flowers it produces to whether you should grow it as an annual or perennial.

Soil

Provide well-draining soil as these are thirsty plants and will require regular waterings each week. That’s it.

You don’t need to worry about using organic or amended soils, provided that you’re in the right zone and have the right pH.

Coreopsis thrives in poor soil and will do just fine. Chalky, loamy, or sandy soils are perfect.

There’s nothing much to do once it starts growing. They take care of themselves once flowers are established.

Plant in neutral pH (7.0) for best results. They’re not picky about soil quality or soil pH. Focus on using well-draining soil instead of regular waterings.

Wet clay soils can be amended with leaf litter or compost to help improve the overall drainage.

It can tolerate both acidic and alkaline soils

The specific range is pH 6.1-7.5.

As you can see, tickseed handles both ranges of the pH spectrum, but not to any extremes. This gives you a lot of flexibility if you have a garden that lies on either side.

Spacing/depth

Provide at least 10 inches of space between each plant.

This will allow for good circulation and evaporation, which will help prevent root rot and pests from munching on it.

Don’t clump them together. Even at 10 inches of space, they’ll still fill in nicely and provide the lush, dense, coverage you’re looking for.

Temperature

Coreopsis prefers temperatures around 70-80F during the summer days. At night, they can tolerate dips as low as 50F, but ideally, it should remain above 60F.

It depends on which type of coreopsis you have. Some can tolerate hotter or colder temps more than others.

Do your research on your specific species and find out the ideal temperature range.

Humidity

Humidity isn’t something to be worried about.

Just allow proper water drainage, sunlight, and circulation by regular pruning and you’ll be OK.

Mulch

Since these are thirsty plants, consider adding some mulch to help with water retention. If your soil has a natural amendment to help retain it, then no need.

But if you’re just using plain regular generic soil, add 3-4 inches of mulch on top. You can use leaf litter, straw mulch, or even clippings from your lawn.

This will help keep the moisture evenly distributed and stop it from evaporating.

Watering

Water 1-2 inches per week. Watering regularly throughout spring to fall for optimal flower production. Keep rainwater into account.

Never let the soil go dry between waterings, but don’t waterlog it. Keep it moist, but not wet. Give it nice deep waterings right at the plant root. That should quench its thirst.

Coreopsis thrives on regular watering in soil that drains well. Use your finger to check the top inch or so of soil.

Or you can get a soil meter to check it accurately for you.

Newly planted coreopsis should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist, but never wet.

When the plants become established with firm roots and develop some hardiness to drought conditions, they’ll be able to grow flowers like crazy with just a bit of water.

Occasional watering during drought will be necessary. They can withstand drought-like conditions but will need the water to produce flowers during peak summertime.

Water in the early morning so it can dry throughout the afternoon. You don’t want any water left in the soil because they hate wet feet.

They’re drought-tolerant, so exercise it and save yourself some water. Remember that more water doesn’t always mean more flowers.

Sunlight

Plant in full sun for best growth. The plant is tolerant to a bit of drought, so don’t worry if the sun dries out the water.

Partial sun should be used for higher zones where it’s burning hot.

Otherwise, zones 4-7 should be planted in full sun only for optimal blooms.

If grown in partial sun, you’ll get skinner plants with fewer flowers. The only time they should be planted in partial sunlight is in extremely hot weather.

Plant in heat zones 1-9. If you don’t know your zone, look here.

Staking

Some taller varieties of coreopsis will need staking.

Otherwise, they’ll droop over and not grow upright. If you notice that your tickseed leans over, add some secure stakes to help it stand up correctly.

Plant food

Tickseed doesn’t need any fertilizers or plant food to bloom.

However, if you have smaller flowers or poor flower volume, you can help encourage new flowers by adding some balanced plant food.

For most gardens, this is not necessary because it doesn’t need any special plant food to grow.

It thrives on poor soil conditions and will tolerate a lot of beginner mistakes.

We’re all about keeping it simple. Excess fertilizer may produce the opposite of what you want. They can inhibit flower production if overdone.

This is very important if you plan to grow them in containers because they don’t drain well and will keep the plant food “stuck” in the container.

If you want to feed them something, just use some compost in the spring before bloom.

Excess plant food will promote more leaves than flowers, so you shouldn’t overdo it. If you have a lot of leaves but no flowers because you’re using fertilizer, reduce it or wean it off.

All you need is light and water for tickseed to thrive.

Pruning

Coreopsis should be pruned regularly when the flowers are spent.

Do not leave them on the stems because they’ll just sap energy and also bring bugs to your garden.

Bugs love to eat rotting foliage, so make sure you deadhead all the spent blooms regularly. A clean pair of pruners is your best friend.

Cut off spent blooms quickly to discourage pest activity and to encourage new blooms to form.

Other than deadheading your tickseed, there’s nothing else you need to do other than cut them back once again before winter.

Cut them back in the late summer for continued blooms. You may think you’re hurting them, but you’re not. Don’t worry. The more you cut, the more flowers you’ll get!

So you deadhead all flowers that are spent.

And you cut back once again before winter. For the cold season, cut them back until the stems are just a few inches from the soil surface.

Tickseed can be both an annual or a perennial depending on your hardiness zone. If you cut it completely back, it’ll likely need to be replanted next season.

Overwintering

If you’re planning to grow tickseed as a perennial and your zone allows you to (you have mild winters), you can do so by overwintering it.

All you need to do is to cut back the stems to a few inches from the soil so that all the flowers are removed.

Don’t let the flowers rot on their own. This will bring bugs to your garden.

Cut it back by deadheading and then add some mulch if needed to help protect the root system from the cold.

That’s all that you need to do for most zones that are warmer.

Colder zones may only be able to grow it as an annual and you’ll need to replant it again next season.

Container planting

If you choose to plant coreopsis in a pot, make sure there are plenty of drainage holes to keep the water flowing.

You can put some rocks or sand at the bottom to prevent clumping. The water should always drain quickly and never get stuck, or else it’ll lead to root rot.

Use a pot with a diameter that’s at least 12 inches deep and at least 10 inches wide.

The benefit of planting using a container? You can move it around when you need to. Easy to relocate. Oh yes. Use it anywhere you want.

Companion plants

Tickseed can be grown with a variety of companion plants. Pair them with shorter flowering perennials for a real field of flowers.

Consider planting with English Lavender, Partridge Feather, Poppies, Mullein, Daisies, Lilies, Coneflowers, Presto, Daylily, or other types of tickseed.

What can you do with tickseed?

Coreopsis can be used to instantly transform your yard into a field of flowers!

No matter the size of your yard, you can add some tickseed to give it that wild, grown-in look.

They produce flowers all season and can be used with other flowering plants for an amazing garden that looks like it came from a movie.

Since they’re so easy to grow, you can use them as decorative plants, pathing plants, border plants, or just coverage in the bare spots of your yard.

They can also be grown in pots and set around the home as fresh-cut flowers. If you’re in a warmer area, these perennials will give you plenty of colors every season.

And cost next to nothing to care for in terms of labor. It’s one of the easiest ways to transform your garden into something wild.

There are more than 80 different types of tickseed to choose from. With their low maintenance, drought hardy, and extended blooming period, they can be used for everything.

They also bring birds, bees, and butterflies to the yard as they provide a delicious meal for beneficial pollinators. Fill a bed or border your garden!

Choose from both annual or perennial varieties.

Annuals tend to bloom in early summer and will constantly bloom until autumn.

Perennial tickseed begins flower production in the second year after you plant.

Pests

Tickseed is a victim to the common bunch of garden pests that are found eating flowering plants.

You may encounter the usual aphids, which should be no surprise given that coreopsis makes such a delicious meal to them.

Aphids can be controlled by using neem oil, horticultural oils, or manual removal. Sometimes a regular spray with a garden hose is enough to blast them off.

Coat your plant with neem oil to prevent future infestations.

Neem oil is powerful, so you need to dilute it before you use it. It also can cause some adverse reactions to people and pets, so be sure to read all labels before you use them.

Do your research if you decide to opt for this oil. But when used correctly, it provides an effective way to prevent future infestations of many pests.

Coreopsis beetles are another type of bug that eats this plant. They’re tiny at a quarter-inch and look like black ladybugs with white stripes.

They’re not that common, but if you have them on your plant, they’ll chew small holes in your leaves. If you notice irregular jagged edges or random holes in your foliage, this may be because of tickseed beetles.

You can control them with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

But you may have to take down your coreopsis and replant if they’ve already laid eggs.

These beetles are hard to get rid of because they’re very small and eat through plant matter quickly.

But if you spot them on time and you have a small group of ticks, you can try to isolate the issue and kill them.

Diseases

These are the most problem-free plants.

However, when not pruned often or if there’s poor air exchange, tickseed can get rot issues.

You should always prune spent flowers and cut back before winter. Don’t overwater and always use draining soil. Plant in full sun to eliminate excess moisture in the environment.

Be careful of any fungal issues and act quickly if you notice some. They can often be controlled with regular pruning, reducing watering, and tidying up.

Don’t grow in partial shade if possible.

Other common questions

Some other commonly asked questions about tickseed by readers you may find helpful.

Does coreopsis come back every year?

It depends. If you’re in a zone with mild winters, then yes, it can come back as a perennial.

But if it’s extremely cold, then it’s best grown as an annual.

Some types of tickseed are only annual strains, while others are perennials. There are a lot of variables you need to consider.

Even with perennials, they stop producing after a few years and will need to be prompted to continue producing those big petals for you.

How do you prune coreopsis?

Pruning is as simple as cutting back the spent flowers each time they’re done blooming.

Using a clean pair of pruners can cut them back about ⅓ of the way.

This will “feel” like it’s wrong, but you’re only helping the plant produce more flowers throughout the season.

Be sure to prune every flower after it’s done blooming.

As for the winter, you’ll want to do the same to ALL flowers that are remaining. This will reduce the number of bugs coming to eat it when they all become spent.

How do I prepare coreopsis for winter?

Prepping it for the winter is as simple as cutting it back, adding some mulch, and then removing the mulch in the spring.

If you live in a colder zone, add 3-4 inches of mulch (straw, leaf, etc.) in the fall before the winter comes.

The extra insulation provided by the mulch will help protect the roots from the cold.

Do coreopsis reseed themselves?

Tickseed can self-seed and already does so in the wild. If you come across one by the road out in nature, they will self-seed.

Is coreopsis perennial or annual?

It’s both. It depends on your hardiness zone and the species you’re growing.

If you’re in a colder zone, it’s best to grow it as an annual so that you get full blooms every season.

If you’re in a warmer zone, it’ll overwinter and go dormant, but should come back to produce flowers again next year.

Note that perennials will produce fewer flowers every year, so it’s best to divide your plant when you notice this happening.

Does coreopsis need full sun?

Yes, it’s a full sun plant.

Give it plenty of full sun, at least 6 hours daily, and watch it grow. It can grow in partial sunlight, but this should be only used for extremely hot climates.

Otherwise, let it soak up all the sunlight it wants. Provide 1-2 inches of water and increase on sunnier days. Tickseed becomes drought resistant after establishing itself.

But don’t expect younger plants to handle dry conditions. Give them water.

Is coreopsis deer resistant?

Yes, tickseed is resistant to deer.

But it can still get trampled so you may want to block it off even if they’re not going to eat it.

Do rabbits like coreopsis?

Tickseed is a rabbit-resistant plant. If you already have wildlife in your yard, rabbits won’t be a problem.

But it may get trampled by larger animals like deer. So keep that in mind.

When can I move coreopsis?

You should never move it after it’s established unless you planted it in a pot.

If you need to relocate it and you already planted it in the soil, wait for it to grow and establish itself first.

Then you can divide it or take cuttings from it. Then move it to where you want. If you grow it in a pot, you can relocate it, but acclimate it first.

How long does it take coreopsis to bloom?

If you’re growing by transplant or division, you may get blooms by next season.

If you’re growing from seed, it’ll take 2 years for the blooms to come.

So for the quickest bloom time, transplant or use cuttings.

Further reading/references

Enjoy your field of flowers

Field of tickseed.
A field of tickseed is a sight to behold.

Tickseed gorgeous petals and brightly colored flowers can’t be ignored.

Those large, yellow petals surrounding that darker inner core bring all sorts of pollinators to the yard.

With their easy maintenance, low needs, and minimal watering, coreopsis is a good flowering perennials to complement your existing plants or to make your garden look wild.

Beginner-friendly, versatile, and super easy to care for. What more could you want?

What do you think? Where will you plant your tickseed? What plants are good with it? Do you have any experience with it?

Drop a comment and let us know!

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