This member of the Aster family is an annual and needs to be replanted each spring. However, the flower show it provides is a remarkable display. It was originally found in the western United States, but now is found in most of the country besides the deserts of the southwest and the high Rocky Mountains. It does well in Tennessee, and therefore is an excellent plant for gardens here in Chattanooga.
A slender, 2-4 ft. annual with pinnately-compound foliage, the Plains coreopsis is known for its small but abundant yellow flowers, painted red near the center. Numerous smooth, slightly angled branches bear showy, daisy-like flower heads with yellow rays surrounding a reddish-purple central disk. The yellow petals are notch-tipped. Flower heads occur on long stalks from the multi-branching stems. This plant typically blooms from late spring into the middle of autumn.
This plant prefers moist, sandy soil. It grows in either full sun or partial shade areas. It can stand drying conditions for short lengths of time.
Plains coreopsis is often grown as an ornamental. It has been used in the past medicinally. In particular, the root is made into a tea as an aid for diarrhea; the leaves have been boiled and offered as a drink for the internal organs; and lastly, the dried tops of the plants have been used to “strengthen the blood.”
This plant is an excellent candidate for borders. It will naturalize in native wildflower gardens, meadows, or prairies, and is effective along roads. This is a good plant for areas with poor, dry soils. It is excellent in large plantings.
Additionally, the flowers have been used a dye for textiles.
While this species is considered an annual, it can live for 2–3 years before dying.
The Plains coreopsis attracts many pollinating organisms including nectar bees, nectar butterflies, and other insects. In addition, this plant attracts many small, seed-loving bird species.
This species has no serious insect or disease problems.
About the Author
Charlie Belin is a retired professor and biological oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia system for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.
Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!