Ultimate Guide to Coreopsis Flower Meaning, Origins, Uses, Gifting, and How to Grow at Home

Coreopsis (C. tinctoria), also known as calliopsis or tickseed, is a wildflower known for its bright golden and red blooms and lacy foliage. Native to North America, coreopsis flowers thrive in dry, rocky landscapes and can be found growing in meadows and along roadsides, as well as in the landscape as an ornamental perennial. It’s long been prized for its medicinal uses; indigenous peoples brewed coreopsis tea to ease stomach ailments and strengthen the blood. Scientific research shows that blooms are rich in flavonoids and may help balance the metabolism. What’s more, coreopsis flowers are used to produce colorful dyes and add brilliant color to cut bouquets.

Coreopsis Flowers —The Essentials

Coreposis belong to the Asteraceae family. These North American natives grow across the U.S. and are cultivated as annuals and perennials, prized for long-lasting summer blooms. Coreopsis comes from the Greek koris (bug) and opsis (view). Flowers are thought to ease stomach ailments and regulate metabolism.

About The Coreopsis Flower

About The Coreopsis Flower

The Coreopsis Flower – Family, Genus, and Taxonomy

The Coreopsis genus belongs to the Asteraceae, or daisy, family. One of the largest plant families, this group of flowering plants contains about 23,600 species across 1,620 genera.

Coreopsis contains about 80 species of plants.

Botanical Characteristics, Colors, and Fragrances

Depending on species and cultivar, coreopsis grow from 8 to 48 inches tall. They have dark green, linear or thread-like foliage arranged in an opposite pattern.

From summer through fall, coreopsis bloom with bright, dramatic blossoms atop thin stalks. Hues range from yellow to gold, red, burgundy, and even dark brown or copper. Blooms are radial, with seven to 20 petals, and reach up to three inches in diameter.

Coreopsis foliage has an herbal fragrance that some compare to the scent of dill. After blooming, plants produce black seeds or achenes.

Popular Coreopsis Flower Types, Species, and Cultivars

There are about 80 species of coreopsis. They may grow as annuals or perennials, depending on species and climate zone, and many grow wild across North America. Coreopsis is also a popular ornamental plant that’s cultivated in landscapes and nurseries around the world.

One common species is C. tinctoria, commonly known as plains coreopsis. This native species is an annual. It grows up to 4 feet tall and boasts yellow, red and brown flowers that bloom from early summer through fall. Plains coreopsis is a good cut flower for arrangements, and is attractive when masses in landscapes. 

C. tinctoria cultivars and varieties include:

C. tinctoria cultivars and varieties include
  • ‘Mahogany Midget’, a dwarf variety that grows to 12 inches tall and produces dark red flowers
  • ‘Mardi Gras’, a compact variety that reaches 8 inches in height and boasts red blooms with yellow centers
  • ‘Seashells’, known for tube-shaped yellow blossoms
  • ‘Tiger’, which features red- and yellow-patterned petals

The species C. verticillata, commonly called threadleaf tickseed, is a perennial. It grows up to 2.5 feet tall and produces sunny yellow blooms, summer through fall. It’s native to North America and will self-seed easily.

Popular C. verticillata varieties include
  • ‘Golden Showers’, which grows up to 3 feet tall and has deep yellow blossoms
  • ‘Heavens Gate’ reaches heights to 2 feet and blooms with dark pink flowers
  • ‘Hot Paprika’ spices up the garden with red-orange blooms
  • ‘Moonbeam’ grows to 18 inches and tolerates drier conditions
  • ‘Rosea’ reaches heights of only 15 inches, but spreads quickly and has pink blooms
  • ‘Zagreb’ offers small, yellow blossoms on stalks up to 18 inches tall

Other Coreopsis species include:

Other Coreopsis species include
  • Mouse-ear (C. auriculata), known for two leaves that resemble ears; this species blooms with yellow flowers in spring
  • ‘Nana’ is a dwarf variety of mouse-ear coreopsis that grows to just 8 inches tall
  • Large-flower coreopsis (C. grandiflora) is a short-lived perennial that blooms with orange and yellow flowers
  • Lanceleaf coreopsis (C. lancelota) grows across the southern, mid-western, and northeastern U.S.
  • Pink coreopsis (C. rosea) blooms with pink flowers and grows best in USDA Zones 4 to 7.

Etymological Meaning

The name “coreopsis” comes from the Greek word for bug, or koris and view, or opsis. The name refers to the coreopsis achenes or seeds, which are small, black and resemble ticks or insects.

Tinctoria stems from the Latin word for “dye”. This particular species has long been used to produce yellow and brown dyes.

What Regions are Coreopsis Flowers Native To?

What Regions are Coreopsis Flowers Native To

Coreopsis flowers are native to North America and grow across most regions of the U.S. Calliopsis, or C. tinctoria, is native to the western, southern, and mid-western states, where it commonly grows in fields, pastures, dry areas, and along roadsides. Threadleaf tickseed, or C. verticillata, is native to the southeastern U.S.

When are Coreopsis Flowers in Season?

Coreopsis flowers are prized for their extended bloom time. Annuals, such as calliopsis or plains coreopsis, bloom from late spring through early fall. Perennial varieties, such as threadleaf tickseed, often bloom through the summer months.

While in bloom, pollinators like bees and butterflies flock to the brightly colored blossoms. After blooming, flower heads produce black seeds or achenes. These attract songbirds through the fall.

Uses and Benefits of Coreopsis Flowers

Uses and Benefits of Coreopsis Flowers

Coreopsis in Herbalism and Medicine

Indigenous North Americans used C. tinctoria roots to create a tea that was used as an emetic and as a treatment for diarrhea. A flower infusion was also used to treat internal pain, strengthen the blood, and stop bleeding.

In China — where coreopsis is known as snow chrysanthemum — tea is used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Scientific research indicates that coreopsis tea may help regulate metabolism and control hyperglycemia. Studies from the University of Macau indicate that C. tinctoria leaves, stems, and buds contain beneficial flavonoids and antioxidants.

Food and Drink Using Coreopsis

Dried plants can be used to make tea. Coreopsis has also been used as a coffee substitute.

Toxicity and Bee Friendliness

Coreopsis is not known to be toxic to pets or humans. Bees and other pollinators are attracted to coreopsis blooms.

Other Uses for Coreopsis

Coreopsis flowers have long been used to create dye. Blossoms are steeped in water, then cloth or yarn can be soaked to absorb the yellow or red color.

Coreopsis has also been used as an insect repellant. When European settlers came to North America, they stuffed their mattresses with dried coreopsis to repel bed bugs.

Coreopsis Meaning & Symbolism

Coreopsis Meaning & Symbolism

Common Coreopsis Flower Colors, Meaning & Symbolism

Coreopsis come in a range of colors, from yellow to deep red. Perhaps the best known is the golden, sunny yellow of calliopsis and tickseed. In the language of flowers, the yellow coreopsis meaning is “always cheerful”.

The yellow blooms of C. arkansa mean “love at first sight”. Overall, coreopsis meaning equates to cheer and love.

Meaning, Symbolism and Cultural Significance of Coreopsis Flowers in Native American History

Some Native American tribes believed drinking coreopsis tea would protect against being struck by lightning. Others thought the tea would help women to conceive daughters.

The State Wildflower of Florida

In 1991, coreopsis was designated the Florida state wildflower. Thirteen species, 12 of which are native, grow across the state.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Coreopsis Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Coreopsis Flowers

Coreopsis flowers make a perfect gift for happy occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Coreopsis meaning in flower language — “always cheerful” — adds an uplifting message to floral gifts for friends, family, and co-workers.

How to Grow and Care for Coreopsis Flowers at Home

How to Grow and Care for Coreopsis Flowers at Home

What Growing Zones are Suitable for Coreopsis Flowers?

Calliopsis, an annual, will grow in USDA Zones 2 through 11. Tickseed, a perennial, grows in Zones 3 through 9a.

Where Should I Plant Coreopsis Flowers?

Most coreopsis varieties thrive in sunny spots. While they tolerate drought and partial shade, coreopsis grows best in moist, well-drained sites with full sun exposure.

Annuals may be planted in beds, containers, and hanging baskets. Perennials do well in borders and rocky sites.

Coreopsis doesn’t require fertilizer; in fact, too much may slow down flower production. Instead, simply dress with compost in spring.

How to Make Fresh Cut Coreopsis Flowers Last Longer

How to Make Fresh Cut Coreopsis Flowers Last Longer

Fresh cut coreopsis flowers make a beautiful addition to any arrangement. For long-lasting blooms, cut stems at an angle and remove any leaves below the water line.

Keep the container clean, and switch the water out every other day. Adding a few drops of bleach helps keep the water clear.

Finally, keep the arrangement out of direct sun and away from open windows, heating vents, or fans. Putting the arrangement in the fridge at night can also help to keep cut flowers fresh longer.

Wrap Up 

Coreopsis flowers add a sunny touch to landscapes and floral arrangements. Both perennials and annuals bloom for months and attract beneficial pollinators.

These North American natives are a great choice for dry, sunny spots in the landscape. Their colorful blossoms offer a message of cheer and an uplifting vibe that’s sure to brighten anyone’s day, whether they’re growing in the garden or presented in a bouquet.

Coreopsis Flowers FAQ:

Are coreopsis annuals or perennials?

There are about 80 species of coreopsis. Many grow as annuals or perennials, depending on the species and climate zone with many growing wild across North America.

Do bees like coreopsis?

Yes, bees and other pollinators are attracted to coreopsis blooms throughout the summer months.

Does coreopsis like full sun?

Coreopsis flowers loved bright, sunny condition to truly thrive. Almost aim to plant in an area that receives that maximum sunlight exposure throughout the day.

Should I fertilize coreopsis flowers?

Coreopsis plants don’t require fertilizer; in fact, too much may slow down flower production. Instead, simply dress with compost in spring.

Are coreopsis poisonous?

The coreopsis plant is non-toxic to both humans and animals.

Petal Republic’s Flower and Plant Guides:

Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert guides to Roses, Auricula, Ambrosia, Allium, Lilies, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Catchfly, Gladiolus, Viper’s Bugloss, Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Bluebells, Camellia, and Peonies.  


Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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