Coreopsis is a lovely and versatile plant that can brighten up any flower bed or landscaping scheme. It’s popular because of its lovely blooms and it’s a relatively low maintenance plant that does well in most climates. If you currently have coreopsis in your garden or are considering using these attractive plants in your garden, here is everything that you need to know about it’s care, the different varieties available, troubleshooting problems which may arise and how to help your coreopsis to thrive.
What is a coreopsis?
Coreopsis is a member of the aster family. The plant is native to the Americas and it has been cultivated by horticulturists who have developed multiple varieties of the lovely flowering plant. It’s highly prized for its lovely blooms which are available in a palette that ranges from purples and lavenders, oranges, pinks and deep reds. Originally growing in the woodlands and the prairies, it is hardy in zones 4 through 10 and it’s a plant that prefers warm weather conditions. This plant can either be grown as an annual or a perennial with some varieties and in some locations.
Benefits of the coreopsis
Aside from the fact that the blooms are beautiful and it can add vibrant color to your landscape scheme, corepsis is an amazing plant that draws in a variety of beneficial insects for pollinating flowers, trees, shrubs and garden vegetables. They also attract birds and lovely butterflies. This low maintenance plant is hardy and doesn’t require fussiness to grow and thrive. It can be used in containers or in flower beds. There are few known pests which negatively impact this plant and not that many diseases, although there are a few which we’ll discuss later.
In case you were not already aware of this fact, coreopsis tinctoria also known as coreopsis cardaminifolia in the Compositae family is also classified as an herbal plant with medicinal uses. The roots may be used to brew a tea that is useful in the treatment of diarrhea. An old folk belief holds that women who want to conceive a female baby can increase the chances by making an infusion of the entire coreopsis plant minus the roots to consume. There are other uses for dried coreopsis plants as it was previously dried and brewed as a substitute for coffee. in addition to this, dyes are extracted from the blooms for coloring cloth textiles, and there are no known hazards associated with this plant.
How to propagate Coreopsis
You can either purchase coreopsis plants from a reputable nursery or plant the seeds indoors in containers or sow the seed directly outdoors in a garden. If you choose to grow plants from seeds indoors, start about 8 weeks before the usual planting time in your area. Seeds may be planted in a rich potting soil in containers such as peat pots, which will dissolve into the ground after planting. Seeds are placed one half inch below the soil which should be moist, and kept at a consistent temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Be patient as it takes between 15 to 20 days for the seedlings to appear. When they do, make sure that they either get natural sunlight or use a grow light for 16 hours in a 24 hour cycle. Water seedlings from the bottom when the soil begins to dry and if you choose to use a fertilizer, which is optional only use half strength at the seedling stage. Plants are ready to go out into the garden or in baskets when they reach the second set of leaves, or you can wait longer but make sure that all danger of frost is past. It’s best to use a hardening off process, exposing the plants to several hours outside during the day, then bringing them indoors at night to help them acclimate and reduce the severity of transplant shock. These plants tend to self sow in the fall, so don’t be surprised if more coreopsis pop up in unexpected areas of your garden.
Planting and growing Coreopsis
Choose a planting location that offers either full sun or partial shade. Coreopsis do the best in full sun but they will tolerate partially shaded locations. They need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to perform at their best. If planted in too much shade, they will not put on as many blooms. Don’t worry about this tough little plant in the full sun because it’s highly tolerant of both high temperatures and full sunlight. It has a history of growing under harsh conditions in nature. With regard to the condition of the soil, it should be well drained but areas with moderate to poor soil conditions are not usually a problem and neither are rocky locations. It’s also a great choice if you’re growing a wildflower garden because after all, this beautiful plant is native to prairies as well as woodland areas and it survived and propagated itself for centuries before being cultivated by humans. You can expect blooms to appear in the early summer with periodic bursts of blooming until it frosts.
Maintenance of the coreopsis
Your coreopsis requires regular watering after it’s first planted. Once the plants are well established and have taken root, they are actually quite drought resistant plants. If you water them well once a week, this is all that they require. A good way to tell if your coreopsis needs to be watered is to dig an inch into the soil to check the moisture level of the soil. If it’s dry this far down, it’s time to give it a good deep watering, but if they get a little dry, it’s not usually a problem. When it comes to feeding the coreopsis, there are two different schools of thought on the matter. According to Gardening Know How, they don’t really need to be fertilized because it tends to inhibit the production of blooms. You could inadvertently cause the plants to focus all of the energy into producing roots and stems versus flowers, but if you do use fertilizer to shore up weak plants, it’s recommended that you use an organic type which is worked into the soil before you plant the coreopsis in the bed. Even those who recommend some light feeding comment that these plants need a lot less plant food and water than most flower species.
Do you need to prune a coreopsis?
There is some amount of pruning that needs to be done for any variety of coreopsis plant, but the perennials need more of this type of maintenance than the annuals. The reason that pruning is so important is that it makes your coreopsis plant healthier and it keeps the blooms producing for longer. For established plants, you can prune the mature plants which are perennial for the first time in the spring. Cutting them back will actually help to strengthen and shape the plant, but you only want to prune back one section of the plant each week, and you can do this throughout the growing season. Use a pair of hand pruners and cut one section of the plant equalling a third, but don’t take it down past four or five inches from the ground. Repeat this over the next two weeks and you will stimulate the plant to produce blooms more prolifically during the flowering season. Cutting the plant back actually helps to remove some of the drain of the excess stems and it conserves the strength of the plant. After blooming starts, deadhead the plants by removing wilted and spent blossoms, making sure that you remove the entire bloom including the head down to the stem. This prevents the plant from broadcasting seed that could result in too many plants growing in your flowerbed because they tend to self-sow and spread. It also encourages the plant to continue blooming. If you notice unhealthy stems or leaves on your plant, prune them off and throw the clippings away to prevent the spread of disease or pest infestations, and you should also remove any damaged branches. You can also cut them back in the fall if the plant becomes exhausted and fails to thrive as this helps to conserve plant energy.
Common problems with the coreopsis plant and troubleshooting
There aren’t usually many pests or diseases which negatively impact a coreopsis plant, but on occasion you may notice some issues developing. The most common which may arise in some varieties is sprawl, poor bloom, die back, crown rot and pest infestation. Sprawl happens more often in the Early Sunrise and other varieties. It happens when the soil is too fertile, rich and moist and it can cause the plant to fall to the ground from the center. If your coreopsis is doing this move it to an area with poorer soil, as bad as this sounds. They prefer such conditions. Failure to bloom may be due to a lack of sun or fertilizing the plant. Bear in mind that in order to bloom profusely, this plant needs a lot of full sun, drier conditions and little to no fertilizer. If you notice a die back pattern in your coreopsis, it is likely because the plant is becoming overcrowded, or if the plant is between three to four years old, it may be approaching the end of its life cycle. Ideally, there will be between 12 to 15 inches of space in between the plants. A good solution is to thin the plants. If you notice a powdery mildew on the leaves, it’s likely a condition called crown rot. This happens when fungus grows from keeping the plant too moist or growing it in a location where there is not enough air movement in between the plants. You can use a copper sulfate formulation to address the issue. Finally, pests such as aphids can attack coreopsis and rob it of the necessary nutrients it needs to thrive. These insects leave behind secretions that can cause a type of mold to form. It’s not usually a problem for coreopsis but if it happens, simply spray the aphids off with a stream of water from your garden hose.
These are the most important basics that you need to know when growing coreopsis plants. They’re a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers because they can be used anywhere in a landscape that the sun shines. They offer an excellent solution for areas with poor soil conditions or spots that have a tendency to dry out. They’re also an excellent choice for rock gardens or other problem areas where other flowers do not thrive. They come in a variety of colors and variations so you can find coreopsis that will work well in almost any type of landscaping theme. It’s one of the heartiest flowering plants native to North America and you can still see them growing in meadows, prairies and woodland areas within the United States. Gardeners love them because they’re low maintenance, and in fact, if you give them too much tender loving care, you could make them sick or even kill them. They’re an excellent choice for gardeners who don’t have a lot of time to spend on maintenance but still desire to have a colorful and vibrant flower bed. They work well with a variety of other types of flowers, adding accents that complement the overall scheme. This amazing plant even has some medicinal values if you’re into herbal treatments. If you’re looking for the ideal plant for a low maintenance flower garden, or hanging basket then the coreopsis may be a good choice for you to consider.