Coreopsis makes its own sunshine

Yesterday’s frigid winds had me dreaming of summer – and sunshine. And reminded me that America’s National Garden Bureau (wish Canada had a similar organization) has the perfect “Plant of the Year” for a day like that. Coreopsis or tickseed. Sunshine on a stick!

As usual, here am I, the shady gardener, yearning for plants I can’t grow. But if you have a sunny spot, tickseed can be a blooming machine in your garden, especially if you deadhead regularly. Plant it, and think of me.

Here, Coreopsis is looking tumbled and wild in an informal front yard.
Here, it’s making a splash in a more traditional-style perennial border.

Like all members of the daisy family, this (mostly) perennial can be an attraction for pollinators – though not a top choice, as this article from the Xerces Society explains. Still, I managed to capture one proof of the pudding, below.

Mason bee, checking out the pollen.

Coreopsis can be a bit floppy in its basic form. But hybridizers have introduced a whole wealth of new, more compact and better-behaved forms and a wider array of colours – as you can see here.

Keep in mind that most double-form flowers, like the pom-pom Coreopsis ‘Solanna Golden Sphere’ below, sacrifice pollen for petals. I’m rather keen on the white and red C. ‘Jive’. What do you think?

Updating the post to let you know that it is possible to start this perennial from seed (sometimes, it can self-seed, all by itself). The Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ was, in fact, an All-America Winner back in 1989.


    1. I do, too, Gail. And for those who don’t like yellow in the garden (I can’t understand this aversion, myself) there are many paler and creamier choices these days.

  1. I could use a little sunshine and the promise of warmth today. My sunny crocuses opened their faces to the sun for one day, but seem to have discouraged and are beginning to flop. Who ever heard of a flopping crocus. The coreopsis is cheering and I will be planting it this summer in a couple of public sites. More on that later.

    1. 2018 has given us a reluctant spring here, too, Pat. Snowflakes are drifting past my office window as I write this. On April 5th!

    1. They are happy little plants, Gwen, and some new cultivars (see the photo of the big wall display) even add interesting foliage colour.

  2. Love the red and white C.jive! I am one lof those with an aversion to yellow in the garden, but I am going to rethink that becasue I love your allusion to “sunshine on a stick!”
    And, thank you for reminding us that many double-form cultivars do sacrifice pollen for pretty petals!

    1. Maybe the taste for yellow in a garden is akin to the taste for cilantro in a recipe – people might have a kind of “supertaster” response to areas of the colour wheel. It might be worth investigating.

  3. Such sunny little flowers. I love coreopsis and they appear all over my garden every year. But they are big ones. I need to look for some of those you photograph which stay a little more manageable.

    1. Jenny, if you click my “Plant of the Year” link it takes you to a page where you can review many, many kinds of Coreopsis, including shorties.

  4. I came across your post as I was desperately looking online for coreopsis seeds in Canada. I physically searched in Toronto to no avail, including at the gigantic Humber Nurseries. I finally found three species listed on the Stokes Seeds website. I ordered, but got a call today saying they’re completely out and they’ll refund my money. I’ve bought coreopsis in seed form before. Do you know why the disappearance?

  5. I loved all your coreopsis – and all the coreopsis I saw in Austin. I put in a couple of coreopsis last year, and I am looking forward to a good show this year. Mine had a bit of red in the flower. Maybe I have the name tag – somewhere. Great to see you in Austin! Thank you for Austin!

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