Easy-care and long-blooming Bidens is easy to recognize in garden beds and borders, as well as container gardens. A cheery annual native to areas of southwestern North America, it features golden-yellow daisy-shaped flowers that continue to appear for weeks.
This family of plants earned these names thanks to their clinging seeds, which look something like ticks and stick to clothing and fur to spread easily. The plants’ botanical name comes from the Latin words, bis and dins, which mean (respectively) twice and tooth. Its species name, ‘aurea’, means golden. The common names beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler’s pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds, tickseeds and tickseed sunflowers refer to the fruits of the plants, most of which are bristly and barbed, with two sharp pappi at the end.
Many varieties of Bidens have a spreading or trailing form while others grow to be more mound shape. The size varies, too, with compact selections staying about 10 inches tall and wide and larger types spreading to 24 inches wide. Newer varieties also offer blooms in shades of yellow and orange, as well as white and pink.
Because many Bidens varieties have a trailing or spreading shape, they’re often used in hanging baskets, window boxes, and container gardens as a spiller plant. Its blooms make an elegant contrast with rich purple flowers, such as annual lobelia, petunia, or verbena. They complement similarly hued annuals like petunia, calibrachoa, and coreopsis.
In garden beds and borders, you can do mass plantings of Bidens for a bold effect. Or use it in the front of the border or as an edging plant to highlight your favorite plantings alongside other annuals or small shrubs. Because most Bidens varieties are highly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, the plant is perfect for butterfly and pollinator gardens.
All of the Bidens varieties are low maintenance and prefer a setting with full sun, well-draining soil and a moderate amount of water. This makes them ideal candidates for hanging baskets or window boxes.
Grow Bidens in a spot with partial or full sun — that gets at least 4 hours of direct sun per day. Bidens tolerates part shade, but in these conditions, you’ll see fewer blooms and the plant tends to grow lankier and less attractive.
A drought-tolerant annual, Bidens is not particularly thirsty once it’s established. But, like most flowering annuals, it does best when watered regularly. Try to keep it from wilting for maximum flower production. In landscapes, it likes about an inch of water per week.
Bidens blooms best when fertilized regularly with a general-purpose fertilizer, especially when grown in container gardens. Alternatively, you can mix in some timed-release fertilizer at planting time; these types of products slowly release nutrients into the soil for you.
Most Bidens do not need pruning, but you can pinch or prune the plant back at any time if it starts to get too large or you would like it to grow fuller. Deadheading, or removing faded flowers, is not necessary.