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Calliopsis (also called coreopsis) is native to the western United States, where it grows in meadows and rocky outcroppings. This wildflower produces airy, daisylike blossoms throughout the summer. It’s a top choice for wildflower mixes and prairie plantings because it attracts pollinators, reseeds freely, and adds splashes of sunshine yellow and deep reddish-brown wherever it grows. Calliopsis is also great for adding texture to the middle of the border, and it makes a charming cut flower.
Maybe best of all, this annual is a problem-solver in the landscape. Do you have a dry, rocky area along a driveway or curbside where other plants won’t grow? Scatter some calliopsis seed over the soil and water them lightly. This tough plant will light take root and bloom a few weeks later.
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Plant a Meadow
Because calliopsis blooms summer through fall, a large stand makes a colorful anchor for a meadow garden of native annual and perennial bloomers. Perennial favorites include queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), coneflower (Echinacea), and aster (Aster spp.).
Enrich the meadow garden's habitat qualities by planting native grasses that will provide food and shelter to wildlife species if the plants are allowed to stand tall through winter. Try native grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).
Calliopsis Care Must-Knows
Calliopsis is easily grown in full sun and soil that is well-drained. It tolerates dry, sandy soil, as well as loamy soil with medium moisture. This annual grows well in heat, humidity, and some drought. Start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost. Or sow seeds directly in the garden after the last frost date. Unless you find it available as established seedlings, plant from seed directly in the ground in spring in rich, well-drained soil. It's not fussy about fertilizer and likes ample water.
Calliopsis freely self-seeds in most growing conditions. Unwanted seedlings are easy to remove, but the chore can be extensive if you have a large stand of self-seeding plants. Encourage a second round of flowering and limit self-seeding by deadheading spent flowers.