Tickseed, also called coreopsis, is a mainstay in my butterfly garden.
The yellow-flowering plant in its truest form is native to every county in Virginia and most of the United States and Canada.
Moonbeam is one of those plants that can never be used badly because it looks good anywhere — tucked among other sun-loving perennials, lined in front as a border or nestled among rocks in a dry landscape.
Drought tolerant once it's established for a year, coreopsis does fine in moist conditions as long as the soil drains and doesn't hold water, especially in winter when roots can rot. It's rarely bothered by pests or diseases; strong blasts of cold water deter aphids if they show up.
To maintain its long flowering season, fertilize coreopsis with a timed-release granular formula or top dress with aged organic compost. I often use dollar-store scissors to lightly shear a couple inches off coreopsis mid-summer to maintain its tidy look and to promote more blooms later in the season. Do not prune coreopsis all the way back for winter because standing stems protect the crown from winter rot.
Companions that look good with coreopsis include alliums, daylilies and coneflowers.
Divide your coreopsis about every three years in early spring or fall to maintain its vigor. Dig up the clump and use a sharp spade to make fist-sized divisions that you replant or share. Its roots are wide and spidery but will make their way down into the soil as the divisions settle into their new spots.
Native tickseed is a vigorous, long-blooming, clump-forming perennial, growing 1-2 feet tall, according to Helen Hamilton, president of the John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society. Its care is the same as described for Moonbeam.
Several species of native tickseed are found in open woodlands, meadows and thickets in dry and often sandy soil. Lance-leaved tickseed is the most common of this genus and is easy to grow. The plant is drought-tolerant and self-sows readily. This native species has branching stems at the base and often forms sizable colonies along roadsides and in old fields.
The showy golden flowers are nice in a vase and are a popular plant for visiting pollinators.
Learn more about native plants at http://www.claytonvnps.org. and http://www.vnps.org.
I love to garden and spend major money on the pastime but I try to be as careful with my dollars as I am with my plants. Here are some ways to save on your gardening budget, including tips from http://www.SuperCoolCoupons.com:
•Post a wanted ad on Craigslist, asking for free plants. Most gardeners love to help others out when they have excess in their own garden. Maybe you have plants you can exchange with someone, too. Another free site you can request free plants is on FreeCycle. Gardeners with too many plants also often advertise them in newspaper classified ads.
•Multiply your garden by growing plants from cuttings and seeds.
•Watch your garden for "volunteer plants" that are coming up from seed. Simply save them, mark them or pot them up and move to a safe place to get a bit bigger before planting them in a permanent spot.
•If you are ordering large stones, soil or wood, it is sometimes cheaper to rent or borrow a truck and move it yourself than pay for delivery. You can also save by having soil or mulch brought to your home in bulk – no bags to send to the landfill either.
Wanted: mole stories
Have you chased a mole with a baseball bat, only to swing at something you wanted to miss? If so, you may have the makings of a winning tale. Sweeney's, the maker of mole repellents, launches its annual nationwide contest for the best Mole Woe stories, or the "I hate moles because …" contest. One lucky winner gets a $500 Lowe's gift card. Submit a written or video entry and see last year's winners at http://www.wrsweeney.com or mail to Sweeney's "I Hate Moles Because …. Contest, 2244 Dunroyal Drive, St. Louis, MO 63131 by Aug. 31.