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Wednesday - July 16, 2008

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Failure to bloom of coreopsis
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Hi, 2 things..asked a question last yr re: scuttelaria (sp)-purple etc..you could not locate. Finally did at High Country Gardens in NM. Now a new question: Cannot get my coreopsis to bloom.. Have different kinds, but none do well, and some pitifully. Have researched database, and truly CANNOT be fertilizer(nitrogen) problem as seen there. Help! Robin


There are 27 species of the genus Coreopsis in our Native Plant Database and you didn't say which one you have, so we chose one we know is native to your area and one of our favorites: Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed) to examine and try to find out why your plant has not bloomed. Several questions we need to ask-when did you plant your coreopsis, and is it in full sun? Did you plant by seed or bedding plant? If a bedding plant, was it blooming when you bought it? If by seed, when was that? This is not a test, you don't have to send in answers for a grade, we are just trying to compare the conditions under which it is growing with the conditions under which it should bloom.

Okay, the various species of Coreopsis have differing bloom periods, depending on what part of the country they are native to. One native to California blooms from February to July. The one we chose to talk about blooms April, May and June. Apparently, from what you say, it has failed to bloom this year at all. If it did bloom, and you did not deadhead it to encourage further bloom, it is probably through until next year. If it never bloomed at all, then we have to guess that it was planted by seed last Fall. Most perennials will not reliably bloom until the second year after they are planted from seed. If it was a bedding plant purchased from a nursery and was in bloom when you bought it, it may be a victim of having blooms forced in order to make it more attractive for sale. When this is done, the plant has been grown in a greenhouse, forced into bloom, and transported to a retail outlet. Usually, as soon as you get it home and into the ground or a pot, the blooms die. Under those circumstances, the toughest plant will go into transplant shock. Every bit of energy that could be forced out of that plant has gone into those blooms that attract the eye and purse. Now, it needs a year to recover; it probably has very little in the way of roots and needs tender, loving care, no fertilizer until it has begun to recover from stress, but maybe a little extra shade from midday sun and/or a little extra water.

According to the information in our Native Plant Database, this is an incredibly hardy plant, being able to bloom in nearly all sun exposures and grow in all different kinds of soils. However, it is not believed to be reliably perennial, but will return from seed. We have pretty well run out of ideas on why your Coreopsis is not blooming or did not bloom. If you continue to have the same problem with the same plants, we believe we would cut our losses and find something else for that space. Just remember, whatever the blooming span is, say April to June, there is no magic potion to make them bloom in your garden any other time of the year.



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