Ask the Experts, Plant Profiles

Plains Coreopsis: Vibrant Wildflower of the Western United States

(Coreopsis tinctoria)

Plains coreopsis image credit: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Common Names: Plains Coreopsis, Golden Tickseed, Goldenwave.

Overview of Plains Coreopsis

Plains Coreopsis, also referred to as Golden Tickseed or Goldenwave, is a delightful perennial plant that stands out with its vibrant yellow flowers accented with maroon hues near the center. Despite its delicate appearance, this wildflower boasts a robust stature, typically reaching heights between 1 to 2 feet, with the potential to grow up to 5 feet under optimal conditions. Its slender stems branch out profusely, adorned with an abundance of daisy-like flower heads, each characterized by yellow rays encircling a reddish-purple central disc.

Region Native to the western United States, including Texas.
Plant Type Annual herb.
Sun Exposure Full sun.
Soil Type Thrives in moist, sandy soils; adaptable to various conditions.
Water Requirements Moderate watering; high water use.
Bloom Time Summer to fall; small, abundant yellow flowers with maroon accents.
Flower Color Yellow with maroon accents; notch-tipped yellow petals.
Growth Habit Typically grows between 1 to 2 feet tall; multi-branching stems with numerous flower heads.
Garden Use Ideal for wildflower meadows and landscapes.
Wildlife Attraction Attracts bees, butterflies, insects, and granivorous birds.
Care Tips Easy to propagate from seeds; may bloom for multiple years.
Notable Traits Showy and vibrant; provides food and nectar for wildlife.
Companion Plants Mixes well with other native wildflowers and grasses.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat

Native to the western United States, including Texas, plains coreopsis has made itself at home in various environments, particularly thriving in disturbed areas like moist ditches. Its striking appearance has not gone unnoticed by horticultural enthusiasts, leading to its extensive cultivation for ornamental purposes. Often known as “calliopsis” in the realm of horticulture, Plains coreopsis is cherished for its showy nature and ability to bring vibrant splashes of color to landscapes.

Growing and Care of Plains Coreopsis

Soil and Sun Requirements

Thriving in moist, sandy soils, plains coreopsis is well-adapted to environments with ample moisture, making it a favored choice for wildflower meadows and landscapes that receive regular watering. Despite being classified as an annual, Plains coreopsis may surprise gardeners by blooming for two to three years before completing its life cycle.

Plains coreopsis not only enhances the visual appeal of outdoor spaces but also serves as a vital resource for local wildlife populations. Its nectar-rich flowers attract an array of beneficial insects, including bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while also providing a food source for granivorous birds. Moreover, plains coreopsis holds historical significance, having been valued for its medicinal properties and as a source of natural dyes by indigenous communities.

Maintenance Practices

Cultivating plains coreopsis in gardens and natural landscapes contributes to the preservation of native plant species and the sustainability of local ecosystems. Its resilience, coupled with its aesthetic appeal and ecological benefits, makes it a valuable addition to any outdoor space. To ensure successful cultivation, providing well-drained, moist soil and ample sunlight is essential. Additionally, propagating plains coreopsis from seeds is relatively easy, allowing gardeners to expand their display of this vibrant wildflower.