Saturday, January 8, 2011

C is for Coreopsis

Coreopsis "Baby Sun"
Has a small red eye and grows to about 16 inches tall. 

Coreopsis "Early Sunrise"
A dwarf variety that is considered short-lived. 

Coreopsis "Moonbeam"  This short buttery yellow flowered plant, with fine leaves, is rather short-lived.  It was 1992 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Asteraceae Coreopsis (or Tickseed) is a sweet variety of perennial plants (classified as a herb from the aster family) that every gardener should try.  The daisy-like flowers can fill in areas or become a mass planting - it behaves well in either.  (Coreopsis is a genus with approximately 100 species, both annual and perennial.  We'll only talk about the perennial in this article.)

There's good  variety among Coreopsis species. C. grandiflora (known as common tickseed) has bright yellow flowers on tall stems that bloom all summer. C. rosea has finely textured leaves with pink daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. The increasingly popular C. verticillata is called the thread leaf coreopsis because of its extremely fine and ferny leaves. The flowers are also delicate and profuse.

Other than the variety of yellows: C. verticillata is red and C. Sweet Dreams is dark red and pink.  C. Cosmic Eye" is red and cream.  C. "Sienna Sunset" is orange colors. C. Route 66 is two toned red and cream with red spots.   Check the cold/hardiness Zone on plants you buy if you want the perennial variety (hardy from Zone 3-8). 
Coreopsis prefer a sunny area and tolerate most any soil except water logged.  Once they are established, they don't require additional watering or fertilizer.

They are called "work horses" because they start blooming early in summer and continue until frost.  A little deadheading keeps it full of blooms.  (Once they bloom, I take my garden shears and give the top a little haircut.  Stop doing this before the last flowering to let seed heads form.)

Most Coreopsis will eventually die out if they are not dug, divided and replanted.  Share the wealth of these little work horses by dividing every 2-3 years, transplant to same depth and water well until established.

You may find Coreopsis in most garden shops and they're not terribly expensive.  It looks similar to Gallardia, Helenium and Hellianthus but they have different families and attributes. 

Coreopsis make a great cut flower and are attractive in pots.  It is deer resistant.  One Illinois native is Prairie Coreopsis.

Coreopsis is beneficial to long-tongued bees, short-tongued Halictine bees, and flies. Other insect visitors include wasps, butterflies, skippers, moths, and beetles. These insects usually seek nectar from the flowers, although bees often collect pollen for their larvae and adult beetles eat pollen. The caterpillars of the moths Dimorphic Gray and Wavy-Lined Emerald feed on the foliage.

Yep, Coreopsis is an all around beneficial plant for beauty, ease of care, and for the environment.  Such a deal!   

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