Tall Coreopsis is a herbaceous perennial native to Eastern North America. Scientifically known as Coreopsis tripteris, it will grow 3-8′ tall in full sun and well draining soil. Blooming yellow daisy-like flowers for a month in Summer, it attracts numerous bees, butterflies, and skippers. It can spread from seed and rhizome roots forming colonies.
In this article:
What is Tall Coreopsis
Tall Coreopsis is a tall, beautiful and stately flower that grows wild in much of Eastern North America. It seems to stand tall and erect, never leaning or flopping when grown in meadows, although can flop or lean when isolated in formal flower beds.
Found in pastures, river banks, prairies, thickets, and along the edges of low spots, it will spread not only by seed but via underground rhizomes. The flowers are best at attracting bees and small skipper butterflies, but occasionally it will draw in a large Swallowtail as well.
I’ve been growing this flower for 5-6 years, and starting from just a few seedlings to now having 10+ specimens in my backyard Microprairie. It has spread without any help from me, but doesn’t dominate the area due to other competition. However, in a disturbed bare area I would expect it to be much more aggressive.
Native Range of Tall Coreopsis
The native range of Tall Coreopsis is primarily the Eastern United States. From Texas to Iowa, then east to Florida to parts of New England.
Tall Coreopsis Reference Table
|Scientific Name||Coreopsis tripteris|
|Common Name(s)||Tall Coreopsis, Tickseed, Tall Tickseed|
|Native Range, USDA Zone||Eastern United States, USDA hardiness zones 3-8|
|Bloom Duration, Color||4-6 weeks, Yellow|
|Spacing / Spread||2-3′|
|Light Requirements||Full sun to partial shade|
|Soil Types||Sandy soil to clay|
|Moisture||Moist to medium moisture|
|Fauna Associations / Larval Hosts||Numerous bees / hosts some moths|
What are the Benefits of Tall Coreopsis
The flowers of Tall Coreopsis make for a stately and elegant appearance, towering over most other plants. They make a hypnoitic and zen-like experience when swaying in the breeze on a windy day, glowing their bright yellow blooms (especially when contrasted against a dark forest background).
Long bloom time
Tall Coreopsis typically blooms six weeks, but has been recorded up to 8 weeks. This is primarily because the blooms open and close over time, rather than all at once.
The dark green foliage of Tall Coreopsis is attractive year round, looking ornate and elegant. It’s leaves rarely have damage on them, and looks great pretty much all the time.
Tall Coreopsis brings in a large variety of pollinators and birds who eat the seeds. Particularly bees, but also butterflies are attracted to the central disc for pollen and nectar.
Identification and Characteristics of Tall Coreopsis
Tall Coreopsis can grow up to 8′ tall in optimum conditions. It will branch in the upper half where flowers occur. The stem is round green to blue-green and smooth, and sometimes has a waxy coating.
Flowerheads occur in opposite-branching clusters (corymbs) that can be 8″ long. Individual flowers are 1-2″ diameter with 8 petals and a dark brown/black center. Blooming lasts for approximately four weeks in mid-Summer for an individual plant, but bloom time can vary based on sunlight conditions (shaded plants bloom a week or two later).
How to save seed
About 4-6 weeks after blooming seed heads will form. Cut the stalk below the flowering heads below and place in a paper bag or container. Leave it to dry for another week in a cool dry a place such as a garage.
Place seed heads into plastic container with lid, and shake the seed heads violently. This will release the seed and some chaff. Separate chaff using a kitchen strainer over a plate.
Fully dried seed of Tall Coreopsis can be saved for 2-3 years in a zip-lock bag or envelop in a cool-dry location.
In my backyard micro-prairie I have numerous plants, all rhizome-volunteers from the original few I planted 5-6 years ago. Unwanted plants can be pulled.
Grow and Care for Tall Coreopsis
For sunlight, Tall Coreopsis will prefer full sun, which is six hours of direct sunlight per day. It can tolerate partial shade, which is 4-6 hours per day but it will not grow as tall nor be as showy.
Tall Coreopsis can grow in a wide variety of soil textures, from sandy moist soil to clay.
For moisture, Tall Coreopsis prefers moist to medium-moist soil. It can withstand drought once fully established (3 years from seed in my experience).
Since Tall Coreopsis spreads via rhizomes, you may need to pull unwanted plants in the Spring depending on where you’ve located the plants.
While many species of tall flowers have reputations for leaning or flopping, I haven’t seen that with any of specimen of Tall Coreopsis when grown in my backyard micro-prairie. This plant seems to stand tall and not really lean at all despite whatever light conditions you provide it. However in mulched gardens, without competition, it has been known to flop.
However, if you would prefer your Tall Coreopsis to not be so tall…then you can perform the Chelsea Chop on it in early June.
Tall Coreopsis will not require any fertilizer or any kind. Nitrogen fertilizers could make it more top-heavy and thus more prone to flopping.
How to Grow Tall Coreopsis from Seed
References are mixed on whether Tall Coreopsis requires special treatment to break seed dormancy. However, research has noted that seed emergence is higher when planting in Winter, indicating that a cold-moist stratification period will benefit germination rates.
Cold stratifying for sixty days in the refrigerator or Winter Sowing should provide significant improvements to the germination rate. I can personally attest that Winter Sowing Tall Coreopsis to be an effective method for germinating the seeds in Spring.
Steps to germinate Tall Coreopsis seed
- Fill a container with moist potting soil.
- Plant Tall Coreopsis seed 1/16-1/8″ deep (1.5-3 mm) and cover
- Water container
- Place container in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade
- Germination will occur in Spring as temperatures warm up
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases associated with Tall Coreopsis
Tall Coreopsis attracts a large number and wide variety of pollinators. Charles Robertson observed no less than 53 species visiting the flowers in his exhaustive 1929 survey. This includes 18 species of Long-tongued bees, a dozen species of short-tongued bees, and a variety of butterflies. 
There are some insects that will feed on foliage and flowerheads of Tall Coreopsis. But the damage is cosmetic only, and doesn’t significantly effect the appearance unless one gives a close inspection.
Goldfinches and other song birds love to eat the seeds from Tall Coreopsis. It is quite entertaining to see the tall plant swaying or bending under the weight of a bird visiting to eat some seed.
Deer and Rabbits
Deer and rabbits will feed on this plant in Spring when the foliage is young and tender. It has happened to me multiple years. I recommend using Liquid Fence to dissuade them.
Tall Coreopsis is generally not bothered by any disease.
Where you can buy Tall Coreopsis
Tall Coreopsis is not typically sold in nurseries, as it’s height and rhizomatous nature aren’t always considered ‘garden friendly’. But it can be purchased at specialty nurseries that deal in Native Plants. You can find native plant nurseries near you on our interactive map.
Varieties of Tall Coreopsis
The Mount Cuba Center has identified and noted cultivars varieties of Tall Coreopsis.  These breeds are a bit shorter with stems that are more stout. This feature is to help reduce the chances of it flopping or leaning in formal, mulched flower beds.
Where to buy seeds
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Uses of Tall Coreopsis
It is best to use Tall Coreopsis in a meadow, microprairie, or wildflower garden. It can do well in a formal flowerbed that is densely planted though, as the competition will help limit it’s rhizome volunteers.
Tall Coreopsis can be used in a formal flowerbed if steps are taken to limit it’s spread. Even still though, you will likely have to remove some unwanted plants each year. Planting it in a pot with the bottom cut out can slow rhizome production while still allowing plenty of moisture to the roots.
For companion plants of Tall Coreopsis, choose those that like full sun and moist to medium-moist soil.
Below are some plants that like similar growing conditions but are shorter, and would do well to the South or in front of Tall Coreopsis:
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Blue Vervain
- False Sunflower
- Halberd Leaf Rose Mallow (Hibiscus laevis)
- Purple Coneflower
- Purple Giant Hyssop
- Purple Joe Pye Weed
- Showy Goldenrod
- Swamp Milkweed
- White Turtlehead
Some plants that will grow well near Tall Coreopsis and rival it’s height include the following:
Native American Uses
The Meskwaki Tribe used Tall Coreopsis a couple of ways. A decoction of stems could be used to treat either internal pains or for internal bleeding. 
Tall Coreopsis is a beautiful, stately wildflower that can find a home in most gardens. It’s foliage looks great all season, and the wildlife it attracts make it worth the effort. These benefits balance it against any unwanted seedlings you may need to pull throughout the year, although taking some steps to limit it’s spread could help reduce the rhizomes volunteers significantly.
 – ‘Coreopsis tripteris‘, USDA NRCS. Accessed 10AUG2023.
 – Aniśko, Tomasz, When perennials bloom : an almanac for planning and planting, Portland : Timber Press, 2008, pp515.
 – Green, Douglas, Perennials all season : planning and planting an ever-blooming garden, Chicago : Contemporary Books, 2003, pp300
 – Robertson, Charles. “Flowers and insects; lists of visitors of four hundred and fifty-three flowers.” (1928).
 – Hitchmough, James, Marcus De La Fleur, and Catherine Findlay. “Establishing North American prairie vegetation in urban parks in northern England: Part 1. Effect of sowing season, sowing rate and soil type.” Landscape and Urban Planning 66.2 (2004): 75-90.
 – Shields, Bryan W. “A Survey of Insects Collected from Wild Flowering Plants at One Site in Michigan.” (2022).
 – Rathcke, Beverly J. “Insect-plant patterns and relationships in the stem-boring guild.” American Midland Naturalist (1976): 98-117.
 – Coreopsis tripteris. Mount Cuba Center. Accessed 10AUG2023.
 – Coreopsis tripteris. North American Ethnobotany Database. Accessed 10AUG2023.
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