26 May 2013

The Bedbug Plant

Coreopsis never appealed to me in photos and descriptions that catalogs produced. I saw a bland plant, not stunning or capable of being a signature centerpiece or attractive border or backdrop. That changed a few years ago with the Autumn Blush coreopsis I bought and with one from our neighborhood plant swap.

Coreopsis seemed to be popping up everywhere in the 1990's as the latest fad; one to fulfill the persistent low-maintenance, drought-tolerant quest. I soon saw many new coreopsis on the market, and some appealed to me. I gave Autumn Blush a tryout [posted 2010.06.08]. Although taking its sweet old time to emerge every spring, it is attractive and reliably blooms all season. In that same year, a neighbor gave away this coreopsis at our plant swap. She purchased it (Coreopsis auriculata 'Nana') but found its cultural requirements were not what she expected, and gave it up. Lucky me.

It has spread and bloomed every year, even surviving a major relocation. No pests or diseases bother it. Well, maybe there's a little mildew in late autumn. What seems to set Nana apart is its thick carpet of dense green leaves and the way it holds its blooms. The glowing 1-inch (3 cm) orange blossoms are held above the dark foliage on very thin stems. This makes the blossoms appear to float above the leaf clump hugging the ground.

The orange flowers burst out in spring, tapering off through the summer. Maybe some deadheading would help that.

Coreopsis is also called tickseed. The name coreopsis derives from Greek meaning 'bedbug' - because the seed on spent flowers look like bedbugs? I don't think so on this plant - I am not letting dead blossoms linger this year so there are no photos of them.

For some reason, last year it threw up a healthy litter of leaves, but few flowers. I thought this might be due to overcrowding, and gave it a buzz cut last fall. That did the trick. Even though the 16 inch diameter (40 cm) clump still looks very thick, there are more blooms this year. Sometimes we need a little tough love.

For The Record:
  • Clay soil improving with organic amendments
  • Full sun
  • No fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease
  • Easily spreads

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Bearded iris, coreopsis, salvia, tradescantia,
    california poppy, rose


Northern Shade said...
The gold colour is very cheery. Back when my garden had more sunny ares, I grew some Coreopsis Moonbeam which has light yellow flowers with some lavender coloured Russian sage.