The lanceleaf coreopsis produces beautiful long-lasting flowers throughout much of the summer. Click to download a large version (800x600) of this image to take a closer look.
The genus Coreopsis has given gardeners many beautiful flowers for our beds, borders and vases. Lanceleaf tickseed is one of four that are profiled in Floridata (see below). This one has flowering stems that are leafy only near their bases, with leaves that are linear or knife shaped, to 6 in (15 cm) long. The solitary flowerheads are 1.5-2.5 in (4-6 cm) across, and carried erect on long, stiff stems about 2 ft (60 cm) tall. Ray florets and disc florets are yellow. No fewer than a dozen cultivars have been offered. All have flowers that are basically yellow, but some have maroon or brown spots on the rays, some have darker discs, some are double, and some are dwarf in stature.
The tickseeds are an entirely American genus of plants and Coreopsis lanceolata is typical with a natural distribution covering most of North America except the Rocky Mountains. Lanceleaf tickseed brings bright summer color to weedy fields, prairies, roadsides and dry meadows.
Lanceleaf tickseed will produce the most flowers when grown in nutrient poor soil that is not too rich in organics. Very fertile soils will cause the plant to grow more foliage and fewer flowers. Light: Grow the tickseeds in full sun to partial shade. Moisture: Lanceleaf tickseed does best with regular, moderate watering but can tolerate brief periods of drought. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-9. Propagation: Sow seeds in early spring and (even though it is technically a perennial) expect lanceleaf tickseed to bloom in its first year. Most gardeners treat the perennial tickseeds as annuals anyway, replanting every spring. If yours comes back, you can propagate more plants by dividing the roots, or start cuttings from basal softwood.
Lanceleaf coreopsis holds its blossoms on long wiry stems emerging from a low clump of foliage. Click to download a large version (800x600) of this image.
Grow tickseeds in the cutting garden or in beds and borders with other flowers or in masses. The plants bloom over a long period in summer, and produce much nectar and pollen for butterflies, honey bees and native bees and wasps. (Honeybees are not native to North America.) Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooming. One of the finest flowers for cutting, lanceleaf tickseed has long, wiry stems and flowerheads that last for a week or more in the vase.
The genus Coreopsis includes about 90 species from North and Central America, at least 23 of which are cultivated for their yellow daisylike flowers. Floridata profiles three others in addition to lanceleaf tickseed: Largeflower tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora) and its many cultivars are perennials with yellow rays and darker yellow disc flowers, and stem leaves that are pinnately compound. Calliopsis or golden tickseed (C. tinctoria) and its cultivars are annuals with yellow to reddish ray flowers whose bases are purple to reddish brown. Thread-leaved tickseed (C. verticillata), also with many cultivars, is a bushy, much branched perennial with finely divided, threadlike leaves and yellow ray flowers.
Coreopsis is from the Greek for "like a bug" and refers to the seed (technically an achene = a dry fruit containing a single seed) which looks like a tiny insect.