This tough-as-nails native flower can take it all—full sun, part sun, drought—and returns dozens of bright blooms. Coreopsis (sometimes known by the strange common name Tickseed) is a perfect native flower for beginner gardens because it’s so easy to grow. It’s short (1-2 feet high) making it great for borders. Plant it once and watch it come back year after year, delighting for months throughout the summer.
Explore the history, types, and where to plant native Coreopsis
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Why is it called Tickseed?
Coreopsis is this plant’s Latin Genus name, but it also has the strange common name Tickseed. The reason has nothing to do with attracting ticks! The common name Tickseed comes from the shape of the plant’s seed, which looks like a tiny black tick.
So, to say it plainly: Tickseed does NOT attract ticks. This plant only attracts bugs like pollinators, who come for its blooms. To help get past this unfortunate common name, we’re going to call this plant Coreopsis for the rest of this article.
What are the benefits of planting Coreopsis?
Coreopsis is an easy-to-plant perennial flower that comes back year after year with its bright blooms. Its cheerful, daisy-like flowers come in a range of Crayola-bright colors, including yellow, orange, and pink, instantly brightening up any landscape. Coreopsis is perfect for pollinator gardens; its flowers are visited by butterflies and bees.
Another advantage of Coreopsis is its adaptability to different growing conditions. This native perennial is known for its tolerance to drought, making it an excellent choice for water-wise gardens or regions with dry summers. Like most native plants, Coreopsis is relatively low-maintenance once established, requiring minimal care and attention—especially compared to lawns!
Want continuous flowers? Then ‘deadhead’
To keep many Coreopsis species blooming throughout the season, cut off flowers when they’re done flowering—this is called ‘deadheading.’ Deadheading tells the plant to keep making flowers instead of putting its energy into turning old flowers into seeds.
Types of native Tickseed / Coreopsis
These native varieties all once thrived on Midwestern prairies. They all like full sun.
Another very easy-to-grow flower, all it needs is deadheading to keep it flowering. Full sun, and a little smaller than Stiff Coreopsis: 1-2 feet tall.
This bright yellow native flower grows in some of the toughest situations: full sun and dry spots. It grows 2-3 feet high.
Threadleaf can spread quickly, making it good for large spaces but not small ones. In Patricia A. Taylor’s excellent book “Easy Care Native Plants” she writes, “You can also enjoy this plant if you have dry, difficult spots or need to cover a large planting area. Do not, as I did, place it in a small garden with good soil; in that situation, it becomes a takeover plant.”
Coreopsis / Tickseed cultivars
A cultivar is a plant that has been curated by humans for desirable traits, whether its color, drought resistance, or height. Planting native plants is always the best choice for our gardens; see above for true native coreopsis options. Here are some Coreopsis cultivars you may encounter in nurseries:
Moonbeam is one of the most widespread cultivars, offering pale yellow blooms. This plant has been bred to keep flowering without deadheading.
Coreopsis ‘Mercury Rising’
This coreopsis cultivar offers an entirely new color palette, with dark reddish-pink petals.
Coreopsis ‘Cream and Red’
Other coreopsis cultivars introduce secondary colors, like the ‘Cream and Red’ nativar.
Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’
While the cultivar ‘Early Sunrise’ puts out multi-layered blossoms that look like cut-paper sculptures.
Native vs. cultivar
Plant true native plants whenever possible. Cultivars (short for CULTivated VARieties) are selected and made by humans and do not offer the same benefits to bugs, birds, and animals that native plants do.
The famous plant nursery White Flower Farm in Connecticut has a good overview video, with inspiration on where to plant Coreopsis:
What are good pairings for Coreopsis?
A good way to plan a garden is to pick plants that flower at different times so that your garden always looks amazing and pollinators always have food. Here are pairing inspirations, organized by flowering season:
Native flowers for the spring
other native flowers for the summer
Native flowers for the fall
Now you know the benefits of adding Coreopsis to your Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, or Southern garden! These carefree flowers have an exceptionally long bloom time (especially when deadheaded), offering lots of support for pollinators. They are shorter flowers, perfect for borders or placed in front of medium-height or taller natives like False Blue Indigo, Rattlesnake Master, or late-blooming favorite Aster.
- Taylor, Patricia A. Easy Care Native Plants. (1996), 245-246.
- Nelson, Gil. Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens: A Handbook for Gardeners, Homeowners, and Professionals, (2010).
- Harstad, Carolyn. Go Native! Gardening with Native Plants and Wildflowers in the Lower Midwest. (1999), 209-210.