Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Wednesday in the garden: Tickseed
Tickseed - an unlovely name for a lovely plant. Not only is it beautiful but it is very easy to grow throughout USDA zones 3 to 9. It grows wild in many forms around here, and this time of year our roadsides are brightened by waves of its yellow flowers. Their formal name is Coreopsis, but they are commonly called tickseed because the seeds often hitch a ride on humans or animals that brush against them.
The plant is classified as herbaceous perennial and it reseeds prolifically, so once it gets its start in your garden, you will likely find many "volunteer" plants the following year.
The particular variety that I have in my garden got its start as seeds in a wildflower mix packet that I bought at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin several years ago. I'm not sure what the variety name is but it makes a plant about 2 1/2 feet tall and at least that wide and it is covered in flowers throughout the summer (summer starts in May here) and fall.
Tickseed is not picky about the soil it grows in - it thrives on roadsides, for goodness' sake! It does like to be well-drained and it will grow in full sun or light shade. My plants are in full sun and they stand up well to our blistering summer sun. They have no serious pests and are greatly loved by pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Their seeds attract birds. The gardening books will say that they will benefit by deadheading and they probably would, but mine basically get no care except occasional watering when things get dry and weeding when necessary and they do just fine.
There are many cultivated varieties of this plant. One of the most popular is called 'Moonbeam.' It is lovely and I tried growing it for a while, but I prefer my wild thing.