Description & Overview

Sand Coreopsis is a Wisconsin native perennial naturally found in the central portion of the state in the northeast and along Lake Michigan. Large bright yellow flowers bloom in mid to late spring, lasting for a few months to be enjoyed by an array of insects. Seeds begin to form in late summer and are enjoyed by birds.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources considers Coreopsis lanceolata a Wisconsin Special Concern plant due to its restricted range and few natural occurrences. This fact, combined with the sheer number of pollinators it supports, makes planting Sand Coreopsis an easy decision!

Sand Coreopsis may also be known as Lance-leaf tickseed or Sand Tickseed.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 1-2 feet

Mature Spread: 1-2 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Upright, clump-forming

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Dry to mesic, well- drained, full sun

Flower: Yellow ray petals, 1 ¼"-2 ¾", 4 notches at the tip of the ray petals

Bloom Period: May-August

Foliage: Lance-leaved, green, long and narrow, hairy

Fall Color: N/A

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Seed with flat ‘wings'

Suggested Uses

This plant is a problem solver for those tricky areas where little seems to grow. Sand Coreopsis is quite happy growing in poor soils where it’s rocky, gravelly, sandy, hot, and dry and is often found alongside Jack Pine, Red Pine, White Spruce, and Creeping Juniper. Try planting Sand Coreopsis in the tricky gravel foundation bed along the south side of your house. It is also a great option for stabilizing dry, sunny slopes, including dunes where this plant is naturally found.

Trying out a rock garden? This cheery yellow forb will brighten up the space and will work well with other rocky-soil-loving plants like Butterflyweed, Pale Purple Coneflower, and Goldenrod to name only a few.

Coreopsis in general is self-seeding and Sand Coreopsis is no exception. With good drainage, this plant will quickly naturalize an area making it an excellent option in the restoration of prairies.

With its extended bloom time, there are plenty of opportunities to watch wildlife and pollinators visit. In late summer, watch bright yellow goldfinches feast upon the seeds! Very dependable and prolific, Sand Coreopsis is a great addition to wildlife, native, or pollinator garden.

Sand Coreopsis is a Wisconsin native perennial naturally found in the central portion of the state in the northeast and along Lake Michigan. Large bri…

Wildlife Value

Sand Coreopsis is a host plant for the Wavy-lined Emerald moth (Synchlora aerata), the Agonopterix moth (Agonopterix atrodorsella), leafcutter bees (Megachile pugnata), sweat bees (Dufourea marginata), Spine-shouldered cellophane bees (Colletes simulans) ground-nesting bees (Colletes compactus), small resin bees (Heriades spp.), the sunflower bee (Svastra obliqua), several mining bees (Andrena spp. and Pseudopanurgus spp.), multiple species of long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), Coreopsis beetle (Calligrapha californica), and Common Tan Wave moth (Pleuroprucha insulsaria).

With its bright color, Sand Coreopsis is a nectar source for a variety of butterflies including the Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia), Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone), Eastern-tailed Blue (Everes comyntas), Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis), Sulphur butterflies (Colias spp.), and the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).

Wasps, flies, and beetles will also visit seeking both pollen and nectar. Songbirds typically feed on ripe seeds in late summer and through winter if the seed heads are not pruned back.

Maintenance Tips

Removing spent blooms quickly thereafter will promote an extended bloom period.

In the right soil conditions, this plant readily reseeds. Plants will become leggy if soil moisture is too high or too fertile and can be short-lived in these conditions. Plants can tolerate a hard cutback in summer if this is an issue. The best approach is to plant in the right location-they thrive in dry, crummy conditions!

Leaving plants standing through winter to help feed birds through winter and cut back in the spring.

Divide clump every three years.

Sand Coreopsis is a Wisconsin native perennial naturally found in the central portion of the state in the northeast and along Lake Michigan. Large bri…


Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

As a reminder, Sand Coreopsis needs excellent drainage and will suffer from crown rot if drainage is poor.

Deer and rabbits will occasionally browse the foliage of Sand Coreopsis, but the staff at Johnson’s who have the plant in their yards have commented that animals have left it untouched.

For the most part, Sand Coreopsis has few disease issues. Powdery mildew can become an issue if plants aren’t in full sun, given proper air circulation, or in wet soils. Again, prevention is easy when they are sited in the right conditions.

Leaf Lore

The common name ‘Tickseed’ has roots in the Greek genus name Coreopsis and is derived from two words ‘koris’ for “a bug”, and ‘opsis’ meaning “like.” If you examine the seeds of this plant, you’ll see that the seeds look like ticks! The specific epithet lanceolata is from Latin meaning “shaped like the head of a lance” referring to the lance-like leaves of the plant.

Plants in the Coreopsis family have long been used by indigenous peoples for generations. Although there doesn’t seem to be any documented use of Sand Coreopsis specifically, some ways that Coreopsis was used varied from fabric dyes to teas as well as medicinally as a poultice for lameness, internal pains, and internal bleeding.

The flowers of Sand Coreopsis contain a compound that has been shown to be an effective treatment in neuroinflammation-related diseases.

Companion Plants

Combining Sand Coreopsis with other plants is easy provided they all enjoy similar conditions – rocky, dry, and well-draining. Options include:

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Written by Beth DeLain