Coreopsis (Tickseed) Flower Care and Growing Tips

Updated: May 30, 2024

For the full-sun gardener, coreopsis is a perfect pick. Learn all about the benefits of adding this brightly colored flower to your garden.

How to Grow Coreopsis Flowers

Yellow flowers of lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) in garden. Texturedwatcherfox/Getty Images
Lanceleaf coreopsis
  • Common name: Tickseed
  • Scientific name: Coreopsis
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining
  • Growing zones: 3 or 4 to 9
  • Attracts: Birds, bees, butterflies

For the warm-weather gardener, coreopsis—also known as tickseed—is an ideal choice. Thriving in full sun, it tolerates a variety of dry and hot conditions. While some varieties can be grown in part shade, most need at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day to bloom to its fullest potential.

Tickseed is a perennial, and it grows best in well-draining soils. It has a habit of spreading and is routinely found in the wild along roadsides, in prairies, and near railroads. Coreopsis blooms in early summer and will typically continue to bloom until the first frost, making it a long-flowering perennial that adds to the garden landscape all summer long.

Bnbbyc19 Adrienne Reese 2Courtesy Adrienne Reese
‘Early Sunrise’ features semi-double flowers

“Coreopsis is a pretty easy plant,” says Megan McConnell, plant information director for Monrovia. “They are self-cleaning, and many newer varieties continue to bloom without any deadheading.” She also explains that because coreopsis grows in mounds instead of spreading, it’s always a good idea to check labels and make sure to give the plant the space it requires.

“Mostly you can just leave it be until it turns brown in late fall and cut it to the ground for winter,” she says. “In spring, give it a dressing of compost and you’re good to go.”

Pollinator Benefits

coreopsis tickseed pearl crescent butterflyCourtesy Glenda Mueller
Pearl crescent butterfly

Many gardeners grow coreopsis specifically for its butterfly and pollinator benefits. Butterflies feed on the flowers’ nectar, while several species of bees flit from bloom to bloom all summer long. “Coreopsis is loved by a variety of bees and butterflies,” Megan says. “If you leave the spent flowers instead of deadheading, some varieties provide seeds for birds.”

Gardeners will also be glad to hear that it’s deer-resistant, too; deer tend to avoid the flowers unless food is extremely scarce, as do rabbits.

Why Is Coreopsis Called Tickseed?

WgcoreopsismoonbeamWalters Gardens, Inc.
‘Moonbeam’ has slightly lighter yellow blooms.

The plant’s unusual common name, tickseed, might send a shiver up your spine. But gardeners don’t need to worry about tickseed drawing pests to the yard. The plant does not attract or harbor ticks. “Tickseed” was named as such because the dark-colored seeds can resemble ticks.

Best Varieties to Grow

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Monrovia’s Sunstar™ Gold

While there are more than 80 native tickseed varieties in North America, some tend to be chosen more frequently for gardens than others. Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) grows sunny yellow flowers with brown accents at the center. Lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) features bright yellow blooms, and songbirds feed on its seeds in late summer.

Threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) features unique lines on its petals that look similar to threads. While many varieties are yellow, Moonbeam has slightly less vibrant petals than the others and others, such as Ice Wine and Hot Paprika, branch out into white, red, or even pink.

hot paprika tickseedBall Horticultural Company
‘Hot paprika’ features threadleaf foliage and deep red flowers.

Megan recommends Monrovia’s Sunstar™ series, which fall into the threadleaf category. “The foliage is mildew resistant and they grow in nice, tidy mounds,” she says. “But the best part is the long bloom season. They continue to bloom June through September.”

Troubleshooting Tips

Tickseedschnuddel/Getty Images
Plains coreopsis

Tickseed isn’t known for suffering too many troubles, but Megan outlines a few that gardeners should watch for. In wet conditions, she says the plants can suffer from crown rot or powdery mildew. “These are easy to avoid with proper placement and care,” she says. “Make sure it gets at least six to eight hours of sun a day, don’t overwater, and avoid overhead watering or water in the morning so moisture doesn’t sit on the leaves overnight.”

She also tells gardeners to be mindful about how much fertilizer they’re using — and in some cases, not to fertilize at all. “Coreopsis doesn’t require much fertilizer,” she says. “In fact, over feeding it can cause excessive foliage growth and fewer blooms. Unless your soil is very poor, compost is sufficient.”

Next, check out more low-maintenance perennials to add to your garden.

About the Expert

Megan McConnell is the plant information director for Monrovia Plants and has worked for Monrovia for longer than eight years. She manages the nursery’s plant database, along with plant information found on the website and plant tags. Megan holds a bachelor’s degree in horticultural science from Oregon State University.