Everywhere you look in Georgia, coreopsis are lighting up the roadsides. It makes no difference whether it is a superhighway or a little country road there is the fiery yellow gold of thousands of coreopsis. You would swear it was The Year of the Coreopsis but believe it or not that was 2018, and besides, we always look like that.
This native of which there are more species and hybrids than you would want to know ranks in the Top 10 of garden flowers. More than likely your garden center will have several great choices when you shop this spring. I assure you the best plant breeders are still at it today, and I am proud to be testing one in my garden as we speak.
You’ll probably find selections of Coreopsis grandiflora and those that are hybrids between it and Coreopsis lanceolata. Both are great natives to North America and offering brilliant golden yellow flowers on two-foot-long stems all summer. If that weren’t enough, consider the plants will return the next year.
Early Sunrise, an All America Selections Gold Medal Winner, is cold tolerant hardy to zone 4, and heat tolerant, thriving in zone 9. It is also drought tolerant and tough enough to be planted at your streetside. This is one of the best perennials for the beginning gardener, guaranteeing a green thumb.
To find the best success select a site in full sun, although I have seen incredibly showy displays in morning sun and afternoon shade. If there were a mandatory requirement, it would have to be well-drained soil.
High fertility is not necessary, in fact, too much love can sometimes prove to be a detriment. If drainage is suspect, however, improve the soil by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, tilling to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Set out nursery-grown transplants in early spring after the last frost at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing plants 12 to 15 inches apart.
One key cultural technique with the Early Sunrise coreopsis is to remove old flowers. This keeps the plant tidy, blooms producing and reduces the possibility of old flowers getting pathogens that can infect the rest of the plant. Seeds saved will not come true to type. Early Sunrise will probably need dividing by the third year to keep the quality of the plant its best. Clumps may be divided in spring or fall.
Early Sunrise coreopsis has unbeatable color for the perennial or cottage garden. Some of the prettiest combination plantings occur in the late spring garden when grown with the old-fashioned larkspur and ox-eye daisies. While Early Sunrise still garners all of the attention there are also other good choices like Baby Sun, Sunray and Sunburst.
In addition to the Coreopsis grandiflora, consider also the Coreopsis verticillata, known as the thread-leaf coreopsis. Moonbeam, the 1992 Perennial Plant of the Year, is still the most popular, but Zagreb is regarded as the best by many horticulturists. Golden Showers produces the largest flowers. Try also the annual coreopsis C. tinctoria.
I can tell you the straight native Coreopsis lanceolata or lance-leaved coreopsis stole my heart each year I was in Savannah. It was nothing short of outstanding in the rain garden at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, bringing in an assortment of pollinators.
While 2018 was officially the Year of the Coreopsis, ever year it should have a spot of prominence at your home. Whether you have granny’s cottage garden, dazzling perennial garden or the backyard wildlife habitat, the coreopsis promises to deliver.