Many of the gardening books I read some thirty-odd years ago sang the praises of Coreopsis verticullata. I listened and planted ‘Golden Shower’ (which is also known as ‘Grandiflora’). It performed as promised and became a well loved perennial in my gardens.

Then came ‘Moonbeam’ which offered a pale lemon yellow bloom that harmonizes with most pastel color schemes, in contrast to the bright yellows of ‘Golden Showers’ and ‘Zagreb’, two very golden, eye catching types that were commonly offered.

The nature of this time honored perennial has changed. Hybridizers now have been aiming for new colors, plant habit, and health.

In the original I felt the hardiness and health was exceptional. But the new colors captured my attention- they were delightful and I promptly planted them into color schemes where they shone… for one season.

In my own experience, I cannot get the new breeds of Coreopsis to behave anything like a perennial.

It isn’t clear whether they weren’t hardy enough or whether they melted out in winters- ours tend to be cold, more wet, with little snow cover and harsh winds. It has been a challenge for numerous plants.

purple foliage

‘Limerock Dream’ coreopsis with ‘Butterfly Dream’ daylily and ‘Diablo’ ninebark.

The series I put into my garden during those years were the “Limerock” hybrids (especially love ‘Limerock Dream’), and they are now referred to as a “fiasco” for northern gardeners. It seems to be their hardiness was questionable. Now I don’t feel so bad about their loss, though I was quite disappointed at their disappearance. I expected them to be like the ‘Golden Showers’ that had done so well for me.

Now there are cultivars that have reputations for better hardiness.

I am once again tempted to try some new colors.

Now the newer Coreopsis are coming with a caveat: they are only hardy to Zones 6 or 7 (this is Zone 5) and need well drained conditions (not the mud conditions that can be found in clay or clay combination soils). I might have the best luck with:

  • ‘Big Bang’ series might survive if they have good drainage and full sun.
  • ‘Leading Lady’ are yellow, but have different bloom forms.
  • Coreopsis ‘Red Satin’ is worth a try, but I am not going to count on it.

 

A Walk through the New Varieties,

 

Now if you wish for the daisies, and don’t mind replanting each year, Coreopsis annuals or using the hybrid forms as though they were annuals is what you may want to do.
The Annual Coreopsis
090809_Geras_176

Quick Cultivation Tips

  • Likes sun and good drainage
  • Good fertility
  • Tolerates drought
  • Older types like Zagreb are very hardy; newer breeds are not as hardy
  • Spreads slowly

 

Plant Description

  • Grows to between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall and about 1 1/2 feet wide
  • Warm colors: yellow to red and apricots
  • Fine textured leaves
  • Attracts butterflies; deer resistant

Older Varieties

Moonbeam

Moonbeam Coreopsis This remains a fine color for many schemes. It is a lower growing cultivar and looks best towards the front of any group. It is very finely textured with truly threadlike leaves, the flowers sprinkled over the surface.

It is less sturdy than Golden Showers, and I’ve lost it when not caring for it to be protected from encroaching neighbor plants.

Golden Showers

The old standby that gives reliable all summer color. It likes to be cut back and earned the name “Cut and Come Again”.

 What Are Your Experiences?

Have you tried any of the newer coreopsis breeds? Did they lve up to your expectations? Are you okay with using them as “tender perennials”, replanting each year?