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Species Spotlight: Lance-leaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

Lance-leaf Coreopsis flowers

Interesting facts:

  • The genus name derives from the Greek words koris meaning "bug" and opsis meaning "like" in reference to the shape of the seed which resembles a tick. As a result, Coreopsis are commonly called Tickseed.

  • Cultivars of this species are commonly available in commerce.

  • Lance-leaf Coreopsis is a dependable and prolific flowering native perennial.

Native Environment/Plant Information:

Lance-leaf Coreopsis is a clump-forming rhizomatous plant. It generally grows 1 to 2 feet and a radiating clump growth habit. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous, often forming colonies of clonal plants. The basal leaves can be erect, ascending or widely spreading and generally give the plant the manicured look desired in more formal settings. Individual leaves are opposite leaves and either unlobed (generally smaller leaves) or have 1-4 basal/lateral lobes and a terminal lobe (generally larger leaves). Leaves are typically 1-4" long. Stems arising from the base are slender and erect. Each stem is about 12” long and ends in single flower heads, which bloom between May and July. Flower heads are often 1.5-2.5" in diameter and have one row of ray flowers and numerous disc flowers. Ray flowers are yellow, sterile and surround a dense head of fertile disk florets. Blooming generally lasts about a month for a colony of plants. The seed are dark brown, winged, and curved to almost semi-circular. They lack the awns that allow most tickseeds to attach themselves to an unsuspecting passersby.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis prefers full sun and well-drained sites. It is typically found in mesic to dry sand prairies, gravel prairies, hill prairies, limestone glades, thinly wooded bluffs, areas along railroads, and roadsides. It is generally outcompeted in rich soils and can be affected by rot in overly wet soils.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis can be distinguished from other Coreopsis spp. primarily by the lack of lobes on its basal leaves and some of its opposite leaves. Different populations of Lance-leaf Coreopsis can vary significantly in the hairiness of the stems and leaves, ranging from glabrous (hair-free) to conspicuously hairy.

Close up of leaves showing hair and lobes

Cultural Information:

Lance-leaf Coreopsis is easy to grow and prefers dry to medium well-drained soils and in full sun or light shade. It does best in poor, sandy or rocky soils with good drainage. Sites that are too fertile tend to cause plants to sprawl. Lance-leaf Coreopsis does not compete well against other plants on fertile sited. Lance-leaf Coreopsis is tolerant of heat, humidity and drought. Permanently moist or wet, and poorly drained soils quickly cause crown rot or stem rot.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis freely self-seeds. Deadheading spent flower stalks will encourage continued blooming and cam prevent any unwanted self-seeding. Plants may be cut back hard in summer if foliage sprawls or becomes unkempt. The clump will slowly expand from the center outward, with the center eventually dying out. Once the colony forms a ring, division is the best solution to reinvigorating the colony. Crown rot can be a problem in wet, poorly drained soils. Lance-leaf Coreopsis can tolerate regular mowing during the summer and fall. if the plants are allowed to regrow after the initial mowing, they will usually flower sporadically throughout the summer. A fall mowing is recommended.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis flowers have a unique mounded appearance and makes an excellent native plant for almost any garden. Its ease of growth and adaptability in part are what makes cultivars of this species a popular choice for garden centers. It is best used in Children's Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Drought Tolerant Gardens, Pollinator Gardens, Wildflower Gardens, Foundation Plantings, Entryways, Patio Gardens, Rock Gardens or Rock Walls, Cutting Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Native Gardens, Naturalized Areas, Meadows or Prairies. It can also be effective in Borders, but its tendency to self-seed may need to be controlled to maintain a more formal appearance.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis makes a good cut flower.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis plant in winter

Wildlife uses:

Lance-leaf Coreopsis attracts a variety of butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis seeds provide a late spring and summer food source for birds.

Lance-leaf Coreopsis is somewhat resistant to damage by deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and livestock. It is more often browsed on than other resistant native plants.

Useful Links and References:

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