There are many types of Bidens that can be found both in their natural habitat and in areas outside of where they originate. While some species can become too aggressive in the wild, others are welcomed in gardens and other landscaped areas. To better understand these plants, it’s important to clear up any confusion about their different species. Bidens are generally short-lived and can be either perennials or annuals. They belong to the Asteraceae family, with around 220 recognized species to date.
Bidens can be confusing due to the various common names that refer to different species. The plant is known as beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler’s pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds, tickseeds, and tickseed sunflowers, all of which highlight their growth and seed head appearance. The first time I came across the resilient and pollinator-friendly Bidens plant was with B. ferulifolia, which resembled little flowers in the shape of sunshine.
B. ferulifolia is a sturdy plant that thrives in warm conditions and can be found growing freely in areas of the American Southwest and Mexico. This resilient plant has been used to cultivate a number of attractive ornamentals available on the market today. Another species, B. pilosa, is indigenous to tropical and subtropical parts of the Americas but has become naturalized in many regions around the world. While some people consider it a nuisance weed, others choose to grow it in their gardens and use it for food or alternative medicine. B. pilosa is noted as an agricultural and environmental weed in over 40 countries and has been known to cause problems for 31 major crops.
B. pilosa and B. alba are two plant species that are commonly mistaken for each other, as they share the same common name and can both become invasive in certain regions where they have been introduced. However, B. alba also has culinary and medicinal uses. The main distinguishing feature between the two is the length of their white petals, with those of B. alba being longer.
Cultivators have created an array of non-native varieties of plant species, which offer more visually appealing blooms to choose from. These options provide a multitude of choices for garden designs. To effortlessly grow Bidens in your garden, continue reading and discover some stunning selections!
Propagating Bidens is a straightforward process that involves using seeds or cuttings. However, seed availability may be limited, and purchasing nursery starts may be a more viable option. To save on cost, consider harvesting seeds from existing plants or browse online for seed suppliers. Once you have acquired your seedlings or starts, they can be easily transplanted into your garden or larger containers, as long as growing conditions are favorable.
Seed growth for Bidens requires warm temperatures. For optimal growth, sow seeds in an indoor area with heating. If planting outdoors, wait until the last frost has passed and soil temperatures have increased to avoid stunted growth.
These plants can thrive in areas with partial shade, as long as they receive at least four hours of sunlight daily. Alternatively, a full sun location is also suitable for their growth. As for their soil, it should be nutrient-rich and offer adequate drainage to support their development. To encourage abundant blooms, regular application of natural fertilizer is recommended. Monthly fertilization is ideal, particularly for potted plants, since water runoff can strip away nutrients. Another option is to utilize slow-release fertilizers such as the ones offered by My Perfect Plants. These fertilizers come in one-pound bags and are an excellent choice for planting.
For a healthy root system, it is important to maintain moist soil by watering your plants on a weekly basis. In case your plants are not blooming, try providing more water or sunlight as they may require it.
When planting medicinal plants like B. pilosa, you do not need to worry about using organic matter-rich soil, as these plants grow well in lean and disrupted soil conditions.
To ensure proper growth of Bidens, select a location that provides full sun or at least four hours of sunlight in shaded areas. It is also important to plant them in well-draining, rich soil. During hot weather, provide extra water to encourage more blooms.
Bidens are prolific bloomers and do not require deadheading to flower. However, if you want bushier plants, periodic pinching can promote branching growth. During the summer, higher temperatures may require extra watering to keep your plants healthy and blooming.
During the autumn season, it is possible to collect and store seeds that can be used for sowing during the springtime. This practice is particularly helpful for gardeners who reside in colder climates where Bidens plants grow as annuals. However, it is advisable to handle the seeds with care to avoid skin irritation caused by the burs. If you are planting a newly developed cultivar, the seeds may be less bothersome. In warmer weather conditions, adding a layer of mulch can protect the plants and help them recover in the spring. There are several species and cultivars of Bidens plants that you can choose from. B. ferulifolia varieties are frequently used as ornamental plants, especially in hanging baskets. Consider planting the beautiful B. ferulifolia cultivars highlighted below. Another recommended species is B. alba, which is perfect for creating a whimsical wildflower design. The white flowers of B. alba will give your garden a meadow-like appearance while also attracting pollinators.
This type of plant is a strong grower and can withstand drought very well. It’s known as “blazing fire” because of its fiery appearance when planted alongside other types of plants as fillers. Another yellow option is the ‘Gold Nuggets’ variety, which has double daisy-like flowers that stand out against the green foliage when planted in borders, containers, or hanging baskets. Yellow is a cheerful color that adds a positive vibe to any garden.
‘Golden Nuggets’ is a beloved flower by pollinators, blooming from midsummer to fall, and can be purchased as seeds from Burpee in packages of 50. Bidens are generally resilient and do not experience many issues with pests or disease; however, there are a few concerns to keep in mind. Aphids and whiteflies are common insects that can affect Bidens growth but can be prevented by growing biodiverse plants that attract beneficial insects and pollinators such as ladybugs, green lacewings, and birds. If an infestation occurs, you can spray them off with water or apply a mild soap and water mixture in the worst case. Plants grown in appropriate conditions are less susceptible to diseases, but if they become stressed, they can be vulnerable. Bidens Mottle virus, botrytis blight, and pythium root rot are the most common diseases to watch out for. Bidens can be planted in planters and hanging baskets or garden beds as borders.
To improve the designs of drought-resistant and pollinator-friendly gardens, consider incorporating Bidens plants. These plants may even assist in preserving at-risk species by multiplying their numbers. A quick reference guide for growing these short-lived perennials or annuals includes details on their flowering and foliage colors, origin, drought and heat tolerance, ideal hardiness zones, low maintenance requirements, seasonal preferences, soil type and pH, spacing, drainage, watering needs, pests and diseases, and uses such as border plants, hanging baskets, and xeriscaping. Depending on the variety, Bidens plants can grow anywhere from 6 inches to 5 feet tall and attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, and other pollinators. For a bountiful blooming season, plant these sun-loving seeds in spring and watch them flourish through summer, releasing an alluring aroma that will draw pollinators until fall.