I often describe purple coneflower as the native plant perennial poster child because it is well-liked and fairly available. When talking to people about native perennials that they might use in their garden, you can mention purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.) and heads start nodding. After purple coneflower, a close second is black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.); people are usually familiar with that dependable garden staple. I think that Coreopsis should be the next big garden thing.
|Coreopsis gladiata on a south Georgia field trip|
One species is considered more shade tolerant (Coreopsis latifolia) but they really like sun. Most of them are yellow, but several species have pink flowers. Several are noted as host plants for the moths Tornos scolopacinarius (Dimorphic Gray) and Enychlora acida (Wavy-Lined Emerald).
I have had experience with a few of them in my garden. I couldn’t live without the dependable blooms of mouse-eared coreopsis (C. auriculata) in the spring. Its spreading ways ensure that it winds its way through the garden, pairing with all sorts of spring perennials. It and lanceleaf coreopsis (C. lanceolata), which I’m also growing, are usually available at most spring sales. Whorled coreopsis (C. major) is a long-blooming summer standout for the dry area of the garden. Like others, it is usually covered in small bees.
|Coreopsis auriculata can make a nice groundcover|
And I recently got some of the thread-leaf coreopsis (C. verticillata) from a friend. It’s a nice texture to add to the garden and I hope it does well here; so far all I know is that it survived the winter.
This species, as well as several others, have cultivars developed by the nursery industry. While there is some concern over using only cultivars (it reduces genetic diversity to only use one), it generally means that you have a better chance of finding it for sale when showier forms are being propagated.
|Whorled coreopsis (C. major) with pollinator|
As always, do your own research and weigh the pros and cons. Here’s a list of the 18 species in Georgia:
Coreopsis auriculata – Piedmont/upper Coastal Plain, perennial, yellow, spreading, spring bloomer
Coreopsis basalis – Coastal Plain, annual, yellow with dark center, summer bloomer
Coreopsis delphiniifolia – throughout Georgia, perennial, yellow, summer bloomer
Coreopsis falcata - Coastal Plain, perennial, yellow with dark center, summer bloomer
Coreopsis gladiata - Coastal Plain, perennial, yellow with dark center, fall bloomer
Coreopsis grandiflora – middle Georgia, perennial, yellow, summer bloomer
Coreopsis integrifolia - Coastal Plain, perennial, yellow with dark center, late summer bloomer
Coreopsis lanceolata – throughout Georgia, perennial, yellow, spring bloomer
Coreopsis latifolia – one northern county, perennial, yellow, shade tolerant, summer bloomer
Coreopsis linifolia – Coastal Plain, perennial, yellow with dark center, late summer bloomer
Coreopsis major – throughout Georgia, perennial, yellow, summer bloomer
Coreopsis nudata – Coastal Plain, perennial, pink, spring bloomer
Coreopsis palustris – one southern county, perennial, yellow with dark center, fall bloomer
Coreopsis pubescens – throughout Georgia, perennial, yellow, summer bloomer
Coreopsis rosea – northern Georgia, perennial, pink, summer bloomer
Coreopsis tinctoria – scattered distribution in Georgia, annual, yellow with red, summer bloomer
Coreopsis tripteris – scattered distribution in Georgia, perennial, yellow with dark center, summer bloomer
Coreopsis verticillata – no specific county records but likely, perennial , yellow, summer bloomer
The plants were healthy and large; I think they were 3 for $11. Visit that nursery for natives if you’re in the area; it’s a nice, local business.