There are a number of perennials that provide a long bloom time. One that is very popular is coreopsis or tickseed. These perennials have a small daisy-like yellow flower and can add a bright spot to any garden.
Tickseeds are easy to grow. In fact they can be grown from seed. Seed packets are usually available in early March which provides plenty of time to get your plants started inside so they are ready to transplant into the garden by early May. Local nurseries will also carry this well known perennial, and there are many cultivars from which to choose.
Tickseed will tolerate leaner soil and dry conditions once they are established. The longevity of this plant can range from a few years to 10 years, depending on the cultivar. Moonbeam is a very popular coreopsis. The plant is rather compact and thus does well in front of the flower border. The foliage is almost fernlike and the flower is a very soft light yellow with plant height reaching about 18 inches. A drawback to this coreopsis is that it sometimes has difficulty surviving the winter. Another cultivar that is very similar to Moonbeam is Zagreb. This tickseed has the same fine foliage but the flower is a deeper brighter yellow. Zagreb grows somewhat taller than Moonbeam and thus also does well in the middle of the flower bed. This plant is a long lived coreopsis and does quite well in winter temperatures to -40 degrees.
Mouse Ear Tickseed, another variety, grows only 8 inches high and does great in front of the border or in a rock garden. Many tickseeds will grow 18-24 inches tall and produce large flowers. These are the coreopsis grandifloras. A popular cultivar in this category is Early Sunrise. In addition to its long bloom period, it also makes great cut flowers. Many of the large flowered tickseeds are short lived. By allowing the plant to seed and self sow you may have ample plants each growing season.
To get your coreopsis off to a good start be sure to supply it with plenty of sunshine and sufficient moisture. This will help provide many blooms. Deadheading spent flower heads will keep your tickseed blooming all summer. Allowing seed heads to mature at the end of summer is a good time to allow seeding to take place. Coreopsis will thrive in many soils although a sandy loamy soil is ideal, one that provides good drainage.
Coreopsis is a plant that will provide a profusion of yellow blooms all summer.
Until next time. . .happy gardening.
Nina Binkley, UW Extension master gardener volunteer