Tickseed: How to Grow Tickseed
For growers looking for low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and long-blooming plants, tickseed is one of the best plants you can keep. With its lovely and colorful blooms, it will surely add more life and beauty to your garden.
In this article, you will learn about its background, origin, types, varieties, growing tips, health benefits, and other useful information you need to guide you as you grow your very own tickseed.
Coreopsis, or commonly called tickseed and calliopsis, is a bright-colored perennial flower that blooms every summer season. It is a popular plant among growers because of its ruggedness, abundance, and lovely, colorful blooms.
It is a perfect choice for beginner growers since it is a low-maintenance plant. Tickseed can grow in common garden soil, including sandy and rocky ones. It is also economically useful by helping you to save money from buying fertilizers, pesticides, and plant foods since it is not prone to common plant diseases.
Every time it blooms, it attracts butterflies, bees, and birds, giving more life to the surroundings. Aside from animals and insects, people are also drawn from their beauty and use it as decoration in homes and their surroundings. It can be seen in city parks, coastal gardens, cottages, courtyards, meadows, and prairies.
Tickseed has a similar appearance to daisies. It is mostly in shades of yellow or gold (which is one of the reasons why it is also called a pot of gold), orange, and red. Some species have colors of pink, purple, and lavender blooms, while others have contrasting shades in the center, giving it a brighter appearance.
Tickseed has lots of species - reaching almost a hundred. It also has hybrids that are annuals. Each of these varieties and hybrids has its unique charms, so you’ll never run out of options to choose from.
Facts About Tickseed
Tickseed is an ornamental plant that came from the genus Coreopsis of the Asteraceae family. Its genus name was derived from the Greek word koris, meaning “bed bug,” and opsis, meaning “appearance,” since its seeds have a similar look to tiny bed bugs. Since bed bugs also look like ticks, the plant is also called tickseed, hence its nickname.
There is about 80 species of tickseed that are native to Central, North, and South America and are commonly seen in prairies and woodlands. Almost 28 species are native to North America, and 13 out of these species are native to Florida.
Most people in Florida use tickseed for their beautification programs as it is found almost everywhere in the state, which led the state legislature to make tickseed their state wildflower.
Tickseed also symbolizes cheerfulness and love. Its blooms can brighten up a person’s mood by simply looking at it. This flower can also be a great addition to bouquets that you can give to your loved ones.
Growing tickseed is similar to when you are planting daisies. Since tickseed is a summer plant, it is best to plant it from spring to fall in sandy or well-draining soil. It can even thrive in rocky soils.
This flower is planted on beds, borders, containers, edging, and patio. Tickseeds love the sun so much so be sure you place it in an open space where it can receive direct light and heat from the sun. It won’t bloom as much as it can if it is placed in too much shade.
Though tickseed needs a low to an average amount of water, during germination make sure it receives proper hydration and keeps its soil moist. Once it matures, it can tolerate high temperatures and severe dryness.
Tickseeds can also resist plant diseases and pests, even deer can’t tolerate them. But during damp seasons, snails, slugs, and common plant fungal diseases can affect their growth. In case of a growing number of snails or slugs, you can try growing slug pellets to give more protection to it. But if your plants are receiving proper air circulation and sun exposure, pests and diseases won’t be a problem.
Tickseed is not difficult to grow, it doesn’t even need fertilizers, making it a good option for newbie growers as it is easy to maintain as long as you have direct sunlight, warm temperature, and moist soil.
The hardiness of this plant depends on its species or breeds. Many varieties are still being tested for their hardiness so some existing ratings may still change.
Most tickseed plants are perennial but there are also annuals and even both. Tickseeds have a long blooming season and are usually planted in masses. They can also propagate themselves, so expect to see more of them growing in your garden as time passes.
Tickseed’s height depends on its variety but all have upright clamps. The average height of tickseed ranges from 15 centimeters (6 inches) to 120 centimeters (48 inches). Aside from its height, tickseed also grows an average of 12 to 25 inches wide.
Some taller tickseed varieties are good to place at the back of the border and best for cutting gardens while shorter tickseeds are good for edging.
Most tickseed leaves are lobe, and appear on the opposite sides of its stem, while other varieties have large and narrow leaves.
The average length of a tickseed leaf ranges from 1 to 3 inches, and has a width of less than an inch. Its color is green or dark green, and it has a fine texture.
Tickseed flowers are like daisies or small versions of sunflowers. It grows in masses and produces flowers that are single and semi-double.
Since most tickseed plants fall under the category of perennials, it means they can bloom every year. During the winter, only stems die and the roots stay intact, allowing the flowers to continue blooming when the frost ends.
The best thing about perennial flowers is their ability to grow bigger and brighter than they were before. So the more you keep your tickseeds with you, the more they will surprise you with their improving visuals every time they bloom.
Most tickseed flowers have yellow shades that look like gold, which is why it is called a pot of gold by most growers. Aside from yellow, orange and red colors are also common among its varieties.
There is one variety though, the Coreopsis rosea, that has pink or purple blossoms, similar to the shades of a lavender plant. It is also quite common to see contrasting colors among other varieties.
Types of Tickseed Plants
Pink tickseed or Coreopsis rosea and large-flowered tickseed or Coreopsis grandiflora are both sun-loving tickseeds. Both plants prefer to grow under full sun exposure and can still thrive even with low to average amounts of water.
Pink tickseeds are not entirely pink since the middle part is color yellow and nearly purplish shades. They grow fast and can reach 1 to 3 feet tall and have a fragrant bloom. It is one of the tickseed varieties that have a perfect cut for floral arrangements.
The large-flowered tickseed measures 2.5 inches, bigger compared to others. Similar to pink tickseed, it can also reach up to 3 feet tall. Since it has large blooms, butterflies and bees love to fly around them and feed on its nectar.
Mouse-eared tickseed or Coreopsis auriculata and other cultivars of eared tickseed fall into the dwarf varieties. Its height ranges from 6 to 8 inches, like the “Nana” cultivar. It has a yellow color bloom that spreads nicely and can attract butterflies.
Other cultivars of mouse-eared tickseed like the “Zamphir” can grow from 12 to 18 inches tall. It features fluted petals with golden yellow blooms.
Though dwarf varieties can resist any kind of weather, it is not as drought-tolerant compared to other tickseed variants.
Yellow is the dominant color of tickseed but other varieties feature more vibrant and brighter colors. Few examples are the “Limerock Ruby” with bright red color, “Tropical Lemonade” with rose and orange blooms, and the “Ruby Frost” with deep and red blooms with white-lined petals.
Colorful tickseeds can grow about 16 inches tall and need full sun exposure to develop.
Partial Shade Tickseed
It’s a fact that tickseed loves full sun but some can grow in partial shade. One of the examples is the “Rising Sun,” which can grow both in full and partial shade exposure. It can produce large blooms with bright yellow color.
Another example is the “Moonbeam” which has a star-like appearance, pale yellow blooms, and extremely airy. It can grow to an average height of 1 to 3 feet tall. Because of its showy flowers, butterflies are attracted to it.
How to Grow Tickseed
Tickseeds are not particular with the soil quality and the soil’s pH level, which is one of the factors that make them easy to maintain. This plant prefers well-draining or moist soils. They can also grow on dry, rocky, and sandy soils.
Tickseed flowers will have more beautiful blooms when there’s full sun exposure or 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. In some areas with intense and high temperatures, tickseeds prefer partial shade.
Temperature & Humidity
Tickseed plants love warm climates. But even though too much water is bad for their roots, you don’t have to worry about the constant rainy season as it won’t harm them.
At first, tickseeds need a regular water supply until they mature. After a year, they can already thrive in dry environments but will grow properly with regular watering since the soil needs to be moist.
But too much water can rot the roots, so it's important to water them at least once a week to help their roots grow deep. The best time to water a tickseed plant is during the early morning, so it can still have enough time to dry for the rest of the day.
You don’t have to stress yourself from buying the best fertilizers and plant foods to help your tickseed grow since it is not necessary. Putting too much fertilizer can even harm instead of contributing to proper growth and development.
If you know the soil is already good, you can just add a little amount of compost when you start planting by spring, and you’re all set.
For those who are in doubt if the plant will grow without applying fertilizers, you can try to add a little. But make sure the fertilizer is pure organic before you mix it with the soil.
The best way to prune tickseed is by deadheading. It is a method where you remove the dead head of the flowers or clean up their appearance to help them rebloom.
Always check if there are dying flowers, especially during the fall, so you can remove them right away before new seeds start to form. Tickseed can self-sow, so if you fail to perform deadheading, the flower will keep on scattering its seeds in your garden, and avoid it from growing in unwanted locations.
To prune your tickseed properly, you can start cutting some of the stems with dead flowers from its base. By cutting the dead flowers, you also help your plant to grow fuller than before.
The most common method of propagating a tickseed plant is through division and some varieties can be raised from seed plantation and terminal cuttings.
Seed germination lasts within 2 to 3 weeks if planted in well-drained soil in warm and moist conditions. The best time to plant the seeds is at noon when the sun is at its peak.
You can try planting tickseeds indoors and wait until 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area or you can plant them directly outdoors after the last frost. Tickseeds can self-sow, especially during the fall, so don’t be surprised if you keep on seeing tickseeds growing in your garden.
Some beginner growers choose to buy a newly-sprouted tickseed plant from their trusted nurseries or ordering one in plant catalogs instead of buying and planting seeds to start their gardening hobby. And from that point, they will start to observe its growth and take care of it until it matures.
Tickseed needs to be transplanted to prevent the flower clumps from overcrowding. By dividing the parent clumps, it can produce young clones of tickseed.
Every 2 to 3 years, you need to dig the tickseed clumps during the fall after they finish blooming or during the spring before they start new growth.
To give you some guidance, make sure you loosen the soil 12 inches deep first using a shovel to the new planting location that has full sun exposure before you place the plant. Please also check if there is waterlogging around the new location to prevent root rotting and can help your newly-transplant tickseed to grow healthy.
Tickseeds are naturally beautiful. With their vibrant blooms, they are a perfect addition to any type of landscape scheme.
But aside from aesthetics, it is a useful plant that can sustain life within the ecosystem. Tickseeds draw attention from insects like butterflies and bees to help pollinate other flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees surrounding them.
Birds are also drawn to them since they love eating their seeds during the fall and winter seasons. This can contribute to seed dispersal or the scattering of seeds from one place to another to multiply its number.
Growers love to take care of plants like tickseed because it is low maintenance and easy to grow. As long as you provide it with all the sunlight it needs, you don’t have to worry. Because of this, you can focus on tending to other plants in your garden or crops in your field.
It is also economically beneficial since you can save your budget from buying plant maintenance like fertilizers, pesticides, plant foods, and other related stuff as tickseed is known to resist pests, plant diseases, and can continue to grow normally without the help of fertilizers.
Uses of Tickseed
One variety of tickseed Coreopsis tinctoria or Coreopsis cardaminifolia is an herbal plant with medicinal purposes. The roots of the plant are used to brew tea, which you can drink when you are suffering from diarrhea and other digestion-related sicknesses.
A dried tickseed plant, specifically the Coreopsis tinctoria, can be brewed and used as an alternative for coffee. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperlipidemia properties that can lessen the risk of having serious complications of diabetes such as diabetic nephropathy.
Aside from diabetes, this flower tea is also good for people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If you or any family member is experiencing similar health problems, this can be one of the good reasons for you to plant this specific tickseed variety.
There’s an old belief in the usage of this plant. During ancient times, if a woman wanted to conceive a female baby, she could make an infusion of the whole tickseed plant except the roots to increase the chances of having one.
There are no scientific studies to back up this belief, and there are also no information that will say if women are still using this practice or belief until today.
The colorful blooms of tickseed can also be extracted to serve as natural dyes for coloring cloth textiles or fabrics.
With all these benefits and uses, a tickseed plant won't ever disappoint you. There are no reported harmful effects it can bring to our body, so it’s safe and healthy to use.
Tickseed is indeed a beautiful, lovely, and versatile plant. Because of its beauty, it can uplift one’s mood by simply staring at it. That’s why people like to add tickseeds on their flower beds and the landscapes of their houses.
One of the best features of tickseed is its being a low maintenance plant and its adaptability to every type of climate, making it a popular flower plant among growers, especially those who still lack experience and skills in gardening, those who are too busy with other important chores, and those who don’t have enough budget yet to provide for plant maintenance.
If you already have tickseed in your garden, it is highly encouraged to continue growing them. A tickseed plant is not just beautiful. It is also useful in so many ways!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is tickseed a perennial?
Most tickseed varieties are known as long-blooming herbaceous perennials or plants that can live for more than two years. Most flowering plants are considered perennials and herbaceous.
A tickseed plant starts to grow and bloom during spring and summer, then it will start to die when the autumn and winter season arrive. But don’t worry since it will start to rebloom in the second year after it is planted.
During this period, make sure to perform deadheading or remove the dead flowers to help it grow fuller when it starts to rebloom.
Other tickseed varieties are annual or die after completing one life cycle. These annual varieties start to bloom during the early summer and will bloom repeatedly throughout the fall.
Does tickseed bloom all summer?
Since tickseed is a sun-loving plant, you can expect to witness its bloom during the summer season when the sun is always present, and temperatures are warmer.
Throughout summer, you can see the lively and colorful blooms of tickseed. Some may even start blooming as early as the late spring and last until the early days of autumn. When fall arrives, you can see some of the flowers start to die but it will periodically bloom until the winter.
What does tickseed look like?
The seeds of this plant look like ticks since they are dark and small, hence its name. Its flowers have a similar look to daisies. Its blooms have a yellow or golden color, and the center has a red or brown color.
The size of the leaves depends on the variety, and its stems are quite thin. The average height of tickseed plants is from 6 to 48 inches tall.