Every Blooming Thing: Hot Paprika

The Coreopsis plant is hardy and comes in a variety of colors.


I doubted my Master Gardener friend and fellow garden club member when she told me my mystery plant was a Coreopsis. I was like, “Hmmm.”  I’ve never told her she was right - again, so here’s my apology.

As luck would have it, I received a plant catalog in the mail and, yes, there’s a picture of my Hot Paprika Coreopsis.  Loving plants and being a “student” of plants are two different things. I put on my dunce hat and started researching. 

First thing I learned, coreopsis is a member of one the largest plant families, Asteraceae, with some very prestigious relatives that already reside in my garden - unflowers, daises, African daises, chrysanthemums, asters, and, yes, a few dandelions. Quite a family lineage.

Two bits of information make this plant sound unappealing. First, coreopsis derives from the Greek “Koris”, meaning ‘bug’ and “opsis” is ‘like a bug.’ Second, one of its common names is “Tickseed” plant, because the seeds resemble a tick. 

However, there’s more to the coreopsis than bugs and nicknames.

Color - coreopsis colors can vary from yellow, orange, maroon to red. Last year my coreopsis bloomed all summer with a profusion of gorgeous deep red blooms with a golden center and olive-green leaves. This year the flowers are yellow with red tips and each bloom has five petals or rays. I am wondering if this hybrid is changing back to its parents. A question for the nursery when I go.

Colorful, popular coreopsis liven up garden beds, cottage gardens and containers.  

Hardy - coreopsis like sun, but can handle part shade; however, you may have fewer blooms.  I have my Hot Paprika Coreopsis in a barrel container on the east side which gets sun until early afternoon. Part of being hardy is coreopsis isn’t too fussy about soil as long as it is fast draining soil. Amend your soil with mulch if it needs help to drain and/or shape a little mound so the water drains off the plant. After the plant is established, coreopsis is quite drought tolerant. C. verticillata is one of the most drought tolerant. A positive for our area for sure.   

Tickseed can be annual or perennial, returning each year. I did read that coreopsis may last only three years.   Horticulturalists are hoping for a longer life with the new hybrids.  

Deadheading - so, there are couple of ways to do this. You can just shear off the top of plant, good flowers and dead, or you can just cut the dead blooms with the stem down to leaves. It will help your plant to have more blooms in a couple of weeks, and by mid-summer, you’ll want to trim your coreopsis to about one-fourth or half anyway.  This will help to promote another profusion of blooms until the fall.

Propagating can be achieved by dividing plants in early spring, or by cuttings, or by planting seeds. Now this choice is tricky because some the hybrids are sterile with no seeds. So, you would have to try dividing or cuttings. If that fails, you may need to check out your local nurseries, or buy a package of seeds from your local stores.

At the end of summer, you have two choices for fall pruning: One, you can cut back most of the stems, but not all.  Cover with mulch to protect against weather; second, you can just leave the plant as is at end of summer.

Coreopsis and its relatives are great for the gardener looking for color, hardiness and variety. My apologies Cathy.

Please watch for Red Bluff Garden Club August meeting date in these articles.

The Red Bluff Garden Club is affiliated with the Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and Natural Garden Clubs Inc. 


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