At Home With Nature

We Grew It From Seed – Plains Coreopsis

Coreopsis is a plant I’ve been fond of back since my high school days when I had an afternoon job working at a family owned garden center.

There’s something reassuring and cheery about this plant’s bright, bobbing flowers.

So when I noticed some seeds for plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), a native of the Great Plains, at one of my favorite seed purveyors, I decided to purchase them and try them out in the garden.

Yellow and dark red Plains coreopsis flowers planted between bean plants.

I planted these teeny tiny seeds in between sections of beans – polyculture style. I planted two 1-square-foot patches of them. The seeds were very slow to germinate, and one patch didn’t come up at all.

The other patch, however, suddenly showed itself and gave me hope that the little wispy plants would make it. I was thrilled as I watched the tiny plants grow into tall ones, noticed buds form, and then found the first blooms.

Yellow and dark red Plains coreopsis flower close up.

There’s just something wonderful about growing plants from seed. When it works, it feels like a miracle has occurred – something that goes beyond the tangible and stirs the soul.

And on a more quotidian level, the pollinators seemed just as happy to discover these in the garden as I was! For me, it’s beauty, but for them, it’s food, which is hardly a trifling matter!

Man gardening with yellow and red flowers in foreground.
Chad harvests beans while plains coreopsis looks pretty.

The foliage of this plant is very delicate and wispy, reminding me of the foliage of cosmos flowers.

I thought this flower looked stunning with Lauren’s grape poppies planted nearby.

One of my interests in plains coreopsis was that it is native to the US. This plant isn’t native to my particular area – Utah is further west than its native range.

However, I like to keep in mind that climate change is pushing things around a bit. I’m interested in growing native plants that come from neighboring areas as well.

Close up of yellow and dark red plains coreopsis flowers in bloom and closed buds.

Who knows, maybe some stray insects or birds from the Great Plains will end up in this area and be happy to see one of their favorite plants?

While my garden and landscape are nowhere near being 100% native, that isn’t my goal either. I just want my plants to help feed the local pollinators and add some diversity to our few acres of farmland.

This species has lovely seed heads as well as beautiful blooms. And just when I thought it was done blooming, it kept going. (And as of this writing in late September, it’s still producing new flowers.)

A brown seed head with yellow and dark red flowers in the background

I’ll leave the seed heads on the plants to let it self-seed, and perhaps some birds will enjoy the seeds too later in winter when other food (apart from that offered at the bird feeder) is scarce.

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