FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Coreopsis lanceolata is a clump forming perennial that expands into colonies from underground rhizomes. The basal leaves close are evergreen and un-lobed. In spring slender stalks rise bearing bright green stem leaves that are usually deeply lobed. The stems are terminated by golden daisy-like flowers that wave in the slightest breeze. Plants flourish in sun and mesic to dry soils.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Coreopsis lanceolata is native to British Columbia and Ontario and to most of the United States. The largest distribution is in the eastern U. S. as far west as Wisconsin and east Texas.
Habitats include old fields, dry open woods, dry prairies, limestone glades, sandy banks, bluffs, disturbed railroad rights of way and roadsides.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Coreopsis lanceolata grows in small evergreen tufts or rosettes of narrow lance-shaped leaves. The blades are from 3-6” long and are generally entire with a smooth margin and fairly long petioles.
In spring, one or more vertical stalks arise from the rosettes. The slender stems bear small pinnately lobed leaves that almost appear compound. The terminal 12” or so of each vertical stem is a leafless flower stalk or naked peduncle topped with a solitary daisy-like flower head.
Each heads is 2-3” across with 8 golden ray florets arranged in a ring around a dense central cluster of fertile disk florets. The rays are unevenly lobed toward their tips giving the entire flower’s edges a frilly or ragged appearance.
Flowers are borne from late spring to mid-summer for about a month. They are quite mobile on their slender leafless peduncles. After flowering a tufted cluster of achene fruit is formed.
In flower this plant is generally 2-3’ tall with an equal spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Coreopsis lanceolata is an easily cultivated wildflower. It flourishes in sun, drought and heat. In open sunny sites it may even spread aggressively.
Plants thrive in mesic to dry infertile sandy or rocky soils. They adapt to richer loamy or clay sites as long as soil is fairly well drained. In fertile soils, however, this plant may be shaded out by taller neighbors.
This is a short lived perennial which readily self-seeds. In garden situations, deadheading will extend the bloom period and prevent unwanted seedlings.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for Roadsides or Wildlife Gardens. Plants are also used as an Accent or Butterfly Nectar Plant or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Coreopsis lanceolata has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Meadows, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Coreopsis lanceolata with Asclepias tuberosa, Aster spectabilis, Baptisia australis, Campanula rotundifolia, Sporobolus heterolepis or Schizachyrium scoparium.
Coreopsis major has similar height and cultural needs and would be a suitable substitute.
TRIVIA: The floral nectar and pollen feed various beneficial pollinators including butterflies, skippers, moths, bees, wasps and beetles. There is even one species of long tongued bee that forages only on flowers of Coreopsis spp. Plants host several types of moth caterpillars. Finches and other songbirds feed on the ripe seed. Mammalian herbivores including rabbits, deer, groundhogs and livestock sometimes browse the foliage.