Bidens is the common name given to a group of about 200 flowering plants of various sizes and colors of both perennials and annuals.
These plants look something like coreopsis (kor-ee-OP-sis) and are, indeed, related to them.
These members of the Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-eye) family grow naturally throughout the southern United States and as far south as Guatemala.
The most common of these plants is Bidens aurea (BY-denz AW-re-uh), also known as Arizona Beggars Tick.
Other common names for the various types of Bidens include Tick Seed and Beggars Tick.
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.
Bidens Family Plant Care
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.
Size & Growth
In addition to the basic Bidens aurea, horticulturists have been working on developing many other equally hardy and attractive varieties.
Height and spread of the many varieties can range from 10″ inches to 4′ feet tall.
Flowering & Fragrance
You can create an interesting and varied natural flower garden consisting of Bidens flowers in colors ranging from white to yellow to orange to pink.
These jaunty, daisy-like flowers add color to the yard or garden throughout the summer and into the autumn.
The showy, colorful flowers are attractive to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Light & Temperature
Although these plants truly love full sun, some do quite well with part sun.
Bidens need a minimum of 4 hours per day. In partial shade, plants produce fewer flowers and may grow tall and lanky as they seek the sun.
Bidens are winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8.
Watering & Feeding
As you’re getting your Bidens established, keep the soil uniformly and consistently moist.
Once the plant becomes established, it’s fairly drought tolerant.
As a native plant, it appreciates occasional deep watering. Provide about an inch of water weekly.
With good soil, fertilizing is not essential. If fertilizing use a general-purpose fertilizer or a time-released fertilizer.
Follow packaging instructions to provide the right amount of fertilizer for your setting.
Soil & Transplanting
Bidens flowers prefers soil with a pH value of 5.5 to 6.3. Soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter.
Bidens Care, Grooming & Maintenance
Bidens are easy to care for and long blooming. It returns year after year thanks to self-seeding and vigorous root spread.
These carefree plants don’t need much in the way of grooming.
However periodic pinching back or pruning of hanging baskets will encourage fuller, bushier growth. It isn’t necessary to deadhead the flowers to encourage more blossoms.
If you’re growing from seeds, pinch the seedlings back at about three weeks to a month old. This will help encourage shorter, sturdier stems and a fuller silhouette.
How To Propagate Beggars Tick Plant
Propagate these hardy, exuberant plants can in many ways.
Their seeds travel easily as hitchhikers on people and pets finding their way to the surface of any soil type, where they usually germinate and thrive.
It’s easy to collect the seeds late in the fall and store them to so where you would like to early the next spring.
It takes about 20 days for seeds to germinate. When starting seeds inside, pot them up individually and place them outdoors late in May.
Bidens also grow from cuttings. If planting in the yard, it is likely to spread by runners and pop up several feet away from the initial planting.
Bidens Flowers Pests or Disease Problems
When naturalized outdoors, Bidens is fairly free of any problems with pests or diseases.
If you’re starting plants indoors or in a greenhouse, provide good air circulation and not to overwater.
In an indoor setting, these plants may be subject to attacks by thrips, aphids, and whiteflies.
Additionally, fungal infection such as Pythium and botrytis can be troublesome.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, pets?
It’s important to understand that this native plant is meant to be ornamental and is not edible.
Is the plant considered invasive?
Bidens is native to every state in the US other than Wyoming, so they can’t really be termed “invasive”.
However, with its sticky seeds and rambling roots, it could surely take over your garden space quickly and then roam into the neighbor’s yard unless you keep it under control.
Uses For Bidens Flowers
Bidens make an excellent choice for naturalizing, planting prairies or adding interesting, hardy borders to your garden.
It also does quite well as a container plant. Mass plantings of Bidens create a very bold effect.
Smaller varieties make a rugged and attractive border plant along heavily trafficked areas such as pathways.
Some varieties of Bidens tend to spread or trail, so they make good candidates for container gardens, window boxes, and hanging baskets.