- Goldenrod & Ragweed
- Goldenrod & Ragweed Characteristics
- Ragweed Species
- Ragweed Control
- Ornamental Goldenrods
- Herb to Know: Goldenrod
- The Truth about Goldenrod
- Ravensong Seeds & Herbals
- Goldenrod Care: Information And Tips For How To Grow Goldenrod Plants
- What is the Plant Goldenrod Good For?
- How to Grow Goldenrod Plants
- Solidago Seeds – Goldenrod Flower Seed
- How to design with goldenrod
- Use shorter goldenrod to fill the front of the border
- Use goldenrod to grow a gorgeous meadow
- Brighten up a shade garden with goldenrod
Goldenrods, glorious flowers of the American fall, have suffered from bad press due to the mistaken belief that they cause hay fever and the fact that a few can become weedy when brought into the garden. Since most of the 130 or so species found in the wild cross-pollinate with ease, the plants described are unspecified hybrids. The genus name is from the Latin solidare, “to join,” and refers to reputed healing properties.
Perennial Flowers Image Gallery
Description of goldenrod: Goldenrods are strong-stemmed plants, often growing to 6 feet tall, with either smooth or lightly toothed alternate leaves arising from a root crown or rhizome. They bloom in late summer or fall with sprays of small, usually golden-yellow flowers. Ease of care: Easy.
: Goldenrods are happy in full sun or partial shade with good, well-drained garden soil. They will also do well in moist conditions.
: By division in spring or by seed.
: Great for the wild garden, stream side, or naturalized in meadow gardens, goldenrods are striking in the open bed or border. They are excellent for cutting.
elated species: Solidago flexicaulis, zigzag goldenrod, has wiry stems that bend back and forth at the nodes and flowers that are carried along the upper third of the stem. Variegata has foliage splashed with gold. S. odora, sweet goldenrod, has smooth lance-shaped, anise-scented foliage and one-sided flower clusters. S. rigida, stiff goldenrod, is a tall, leafy goldenrod with broad flat flower clusters, fuzzy stems, and large-leaved basal rosettes.
S. rugosa, rough-stemmed goldenrod, is aptly named for its airy flower clusters with arching branches spread over erect, leafy stems. Fireworks lights up the late-season garden like a fiery explosion with linear sprays. S. spacelata is a creeping goldenrod with paddle-shape leaves and branched inflorescences like exploding yellow fireworks. Golden Fleece is only 12 inches tall and is quite floriferous.
elated varieties: Golden Mosa has golden-yellow flowers on 2- to 3-foot stems. Cloth of Gold has golden-yellow flowers, while Crown of Rays bears yellow flowers; both are on 18-inch stems. Laurin bears bright yellow flowers on 16-inch stems, and Golden Dwarf has bright yellow blossoms on 1-foot stems.
Scientific name of goldenrod: Solidago hybrids
Goldenrod & Ragweed
Goldenrod flowers (Solidago sp.).
Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension
There are approximately 28 species of goldenrods (Solidago spp.) in South Carolina, and they all produce masses of bright, golden flowers which light up old fields and the sides of our rural roads. Blooming typically begins in mid- to late-August and often lasts into early October. The Native American’s referred to the goldenrod as “Sun Medicine” because of its bright color and medicinal qualities. The intense color of their flower pigments have long been used to dye yarn.
The appreciation for these spectacular plants has grown in recent years. In 2003 Governor Mark Sanford signed legislation making tall goldenrod the official South Carolina state wildflower. In recent years, many new cultivars of goldenrods have appeared in the nursery trade, each with even more showy golden blooms. These combine especially well in the garden with the lavender, fall-blooming asters.
Goldenrod & Ragweed Characteristics
Unfortunately, the goldenrods share their bloom time with the inconspicuous ragweeds. It is the ragweed pollen that aggravates so many hay-fever sufferers, as ragweed pollen is wind-disseminated. Ragweeds (Ambrosia spp.) have greenish flowers on tall spikes and are not showy for attracting pollinating insects. They rely on vast amounts of pollen to be wind-blown to female flowers on nearby plants for their seed production.
Goldenrods have heavier and stickier pollen that has been well-adapted for insect pollination. The bright goldenrod flowers are quite attractive to numerous pollen gathering insects, such as bees, butterflies, wasps and beetles.
To better distinguish between the developing goldenrod and ragweed plants, there are major differences in plant structure, leaf shape and plant longevity. Goldenrods are perennials, which are typically single-stemmed or somewhat branched near the top of the plant, whereas ragweed plants are annuals and highly branched from the bottom upward. Goldenrods have foliage that is not divided or dissected, as with ragweed.
Staminate (male) flower spikes of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia).
Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Wasp pollinating goldenrod blooms (Solidago sp.).
Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Common ragweed foliage (Ambrosia artemisiifolia).
Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension
Fireworks goldenrod in bloom (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’).
Joey Williamson, ©2013 HGIC, Clemson Extension
There are two species of ragweed that occur in South Carolina, common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and giant ragweed (A. trifida), and as the name indicates, common ragweed does appear to be the most prevalent of the two. Common ragweed has purplish branching stems and highly dissected leaves, much like the garden perennial Artemisia or wormwood. In fact the species name artemisiifolia means “leaves like Artemisia.” These plants grow to about 4 to 6 feet tall. The second most prevalent ragweed is giant ragweed, and its species name means that the leaves are dissected into only three parts. Giant ragweed may grow to 6 or 8 feet tall. Both ragweed species have greenish, staminate (male) flowers on spikes at the top of every branch, and each may release an abundance of wind-blown pollen.
One may wish to remove any ragweed plants on the property when their growth is first noticed and before they begin making pollen. However, be aware that ragweed plants may cause dermatitis or rash if handled without gloves. Continued mowing will also prevent the pollen-releasing flower heads from forming.
Although ragweed sensitivity to herbicides may vary, initially apply glyphosate for ragweed control. Better control is obtained when the ragweed plants are small (less than 12 inches tall). Follow label directions for mixing a 1% solution of glyphosate. If additional spray applications are required, reapply at 3 to 4 weeks after the initial application. Do not allow glyphosate spray to get on desirable plants. Examples of glyphosate products in homeowner sizes are:
- Roundup Original
- Martin’s Eraser Systemic Weed & Grass Killer
- Tiger Brand Quick Kill Grass & Weed Killer
- Ultra Kill Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate
- Ace Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer
- Bonide Kleen-up Grass & Weed Killer
- Gordon’s Groundwork Concentrate 50% Super Weed & Grass Killer
- Monterey Remuda Full Strength 41% Glyphosate
- Hi-Yield Super Concentrate Killzall Weed & Grass Killer
- Southern States Grass & Weed Killer Concentrate
- Zep Enforcer Weed Defeat III
- Eliminator Weed & Grass Killer Super Concentrate
Other herbicides may also control ragweed, but if the treated area will be a vegetable garden or ornamental bed, glyphosate is the safest to use. Other herbicides may harm the subsequently planted vegetable or ornamentals plants.
Recently, many shorter and showier goldenrods have been bred, such as ‘Fireworks’, ‘Solar Cascade’, ‘Golden Fleece’, ‘Lynn Lowery’, and ‘Gold Rush’. Most of these are less tall and spread less aggressively than most species of goldenrod, and this makes them more adaptable within any sunny perennial garden.
Herb to Know: Goldenrod
Sweet goldenrod (S. odora) is the species most frequently seen in herb gardens. Its erect, sometimes sprawling stems have a slight purple cast, and its narrow, toothless leaves, held up to the light, reveal translucent dots. In the wild, this species grows up to 6 feet tall in thickets, along roadsides, and in open rocky woods in southeastern Canada and New England, south as far as Florida, and into eastern Texas.
In appearance, sweet goldenrod is unexceptional, its plumelike flower heads smaller and less conspicuous than those of other goldenrods. As if to make up for this lack of visual appeal, however, the leaves when crushed give off a gentle aniselike perfume, and they make a light, appealing beverage when infused in water; hence the plant’s alternate name blue mountain tea (see “The Patriotic Species”, page 46).
Myth and Lore
Like many other medicinal herbs, goldenrod has for centuries been the inspiration for legends and superstitions. According to one European tradition, goldenrod held in the hand will reveal hidden riches. Another claimed that the growing plant pointed to treasures of secret springs. Round swellings—galls—on some goldenrod plants are the work of a tiny fly that lays its eggs in the stem. New Englanders called them “rheumaty buds” and believed that if you carried one with you, it would ward off rheumatism for as long as the little grub inside remained alive.
On the other side of the globe, a Chinese legend explains how the medicinal uses of goldenrod became common knowledge. During the Sung dynasty, a man named Chi-nu was cutting down a ti plant when he saw a large snake and shot it with an arrow. The next day, he went to the same spot and found several young men in green robes crushing goldenrod with mortars and pestles. They told him that their master had been shot with an arrow by Chi-nu and that they were preparing medicine to heal the wound. They then explained the medicinal uses of goldenrod to Chi-nu and he, in turn, taught them to the world.
Practical jokers in North America once ground dried goldenrod flowers to make sneeze powder. This may be the origin of the long-standing, but erroneous, notion that goldenrod causes hay fever. Actually, the troublesome pollen blowing about when goldenrod is in bloom belongs to ragweed; goldenrod pollen is moist and sticky and is carried from flower to flower by insects.
Goldenrod For Health
Goldenrod’s reputation as a healing herb is reflected in its generic name: Solidago comes from the Latin word solidare, meaning “to make whole”. In this context, goldenrod only appears paradoxical. Goldenrod flowers have been used as a laxative and the seeds as a diarrhea remedy. Workers in fields of European goldenrod often experience skin irritation after as little as three hours’ exposure to the pollen, yet the plant is considered a remedy for chronic eczema. And considering the popular misconception that goldenrod pollen commonly causes summertime sneezing and sniffles, it’s ironic that European goldenrod has a long tradition as a catarrh remedy and is known to improve the general health of mucous membranes.
Native Americans made ample use of several species of goldenrod. Some tribes made an infusion of flowers and leaves for fevers and chest pains, and others used the leaves as a poultice to relieve the pain of rheumatism and neuralgia. The Meskwaki (a Minnesota Fox tribe) made a lotion from the blossoms for beestings and other painful swellings, while the Cherokee prepared a tea from one species to reduce fever and from another to treat bladder and kidney ailments. In the forests of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where goldenrod is plentiful, Delaware tribes prepared a tea from early goldenrod to combat diarrhea and chewed the fresh green leaves for fevers. Houma tribes used a decoction of gray goldenrod roots to treat jaundice.
Almost everywhere it grows, goldenrod has been used to treat disorders of the mouth and throat: the Zuñi chewed the blossoms and swallowed the juice slowly for sore throats, and the Alabama poulticed the roots on aching teeth, as did white settlers in the Ozarks. The English used it to treat sores in the throat and mouth and to tighten loose teeth. During Elizabethan times, goldenrod was imported to England from the Middle East at high prices because of its effectiveness as a dental and periodontal medicine until the plant was discovered growing wild in the British Isles.
The pharmaceutical uses of goldenrod did not escape the attention of the medical profession. Dr. J. Monroe, a nineteenth-century American physician, praised goldenrod as a “cleanser of the internal viscera” and claimed that it prevented consumption and dropsy. However, only one species—sweet goldenrod—caught on enough in official American medical circles to be included in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1882.
Today, goldenrod is still highly regarded, especially among European and Asian herbal practitioners. The leaves of many Solidago species exhibit an astringency that makes them valuable in salves for wounds, sores, and insect bites (hence the alternate name woundwort for European goldenrod), and a tea made from sweet goldenrod leaves has been used to treat digestive problems, fevers, and urinary ailments. (Goldenrod is not recommended, however, in cases of kidney infection.) Sweet goldenrod flowers serve as a general tonic and a headache remedy. Both gray and European goldenrod have been prescribed as diuretics and stimulants, and the seeds especially have been used to relieve gas and heartburn. European goldenrod also appears in arthritis remedies, and its seeds in remedies for excessive menstrual flow. A goldenrod throat spray or gargle is available in many European countries.
Though little research has been done in the United States on the efficacy of goldenrod as a medicinal herb, the essential oil has been shown to contain borneol, a volatile oil component also found in cardamom, valerian, and thyme which is antiseptic, rubefacient (circulatory stimulant), and expectorant. Goldenrod also contains bioflavonoids, which are known to help control certain kinds of hemorrhage by lowering blood pressure and decreasing capillary fragility, and which also assist in the absorption of vitamin C.
Many people in North America, including the Hopi and Navajo Indians and the Pennsylvania Dutch, have prized goldenrod as a dye source. The leaves and flowers produce a wide range of yellows, golds, and greens. See “Go for the Gold” on page 47 for directions for dyeing with goldenrod flowers.
Other uses for goldenrod have been developed but never caught on. Thomas Edison developed a method for extracting a rubberlike substance from the plant, but it proved too expensive for commercial use. And a scheme in the 1940s to sell the essential oil as an ingredient for chewing gum, candies, and deodorants was never implemented.
Modern notions about cultivating goldenrod are a study in differing tastes. While North America has dozens of species of goldenrod, including the most striking and best tasting, most Americans consider it a weed. Meanwhile, Europeans, with only one rather drab native species, esteem the American species as garden specimens and have developed a wealth of hybrids with even more brilliant flowers and less weedy habit.
If you are considering growing goldenrod for the first time, your choice of species will depend on what you want from the plant. Are you looking for beautiful blooms, brilliant dyes, or fragrant tea? Many people grow goldenrod strictly for its enticing appearance: its daisy yellow or rich gold flowers appear in August and September, adding an end-of-summer dazzle to the garden. For fresh cut and lush garden flowers, sweet goldenrod has been eclipsed somewhat by hybrids with S. canadensis. Other people may be interested in experimenting with various species for the dyes they produce, keeping in mind that the color will be affected by everything from the part of the country in which the plant is grown to the amount of humus in the soil. Still others just want a source of tasty tea leaves. In that case, sweet goldenrod is the best choice.
Goldenrod is easy to grow from nursery plants or from root divisions taken in spring before the plants get too large. Seeds are also an option, and they can be sown in fall or spring. Give goldenrod well-drained, humusy, slightly acid garden soil in full sun or part shade. (In the wild, goldenrod grows in a variety of poor, rocky, and sandy soils.) Hold off on the fertilizer, as it can promote spindly growth. The plants require little moisture. Insects, especially bees and butterflies, are crazy about goldenrod when it’s in bloom, but the plant doesn’t seem to have any particular problems with insect pests or disease. Sweet goldenrod is hardy throughout most of the United States.
• Bliss, Anne. North American Dye Plants. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1993.
• Van Stralen, Trudy. Indigo, Madder, and Marigolds: A Portfolio of Colors from Natural Dyes. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1993.
Jill Jepson, a medical anthropologist at the University of California, San Francisco, holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and specializes in herbal medicines and plant uses around the world.
Billowing, brilliant goldenrod among purple asters is a classic native plant combination that is the glory of late summer and early autumn in North American meadows and along roadsides. But it’s a scene that hasn’t been easy to duplicate in gardens. Most native goldenrods (Solidago species) are too big to fit comfortably with other perennials. As if that wasn’t enough, some of the most common species are highly invasive plants. Planting Solidago canadensis among other flowers is like planting a mint that gets 5 feet tall. Fortunately, the situation is changing. Some of the better clump-forming natives are appearing at nurseries and in catalogs. A couple of excellent selections have been named and more are likely to follow.
Until recently, the only well-behaved goldenrods available were varieties of the European species, S. virgaurea. But these bloom in midsummer and finish well before the New England and New York asters begin their late-season display. Although the European varieties are certainly worth growing, it’s the newer varieties of American species that produce the stunning fall effects.
It’s worth repeating that goldenrod is not the cause of hay fever or other pollen allergies. The real culprit is ragweed, an inconspicuous plant that releases pollen while goldenrod is in bloom. That inaccurate bit of folklore is slow in dying, and is one reason goldenrod is not more popular in American gardens.
Goldenrods for Gardens
The varieties described below are well adapted to North American conditions and will bloom in late summer and early autumn. Most are hardy from USDA zones 4 to 7, and some will certainly prove hardy farther south as they are planted more widely. We’ve included their native ranges to give you an idea of which ones to experiment with. This selection of goldenrod species and varieties includes some of the best choices available today.
Zig-Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) This shade lover is native to rich woodland soils. It’s not as showy as the familiar sprawling giant, Canadian goldenrod but plants that provide late-season color in dry shade are worth their weight in, well, gold. The pretty little yellow flowers are borne along the stems in the leaf joints. This species grows wild from Nova Scotia west to North Dakota in the North and between Georgia and Arkansas in the South.
Grey Goldenrod (S. nemoralis) Never more than 2 feet tall, grey goldenrod is comparable in height to the European varieties. The distinctive greyish cast of the leaves is the origin of its common name. The plants only live a few seasons but readily reseed themselves. Native to poor, dry soils, grey goldenrod does well in sandy soil. In richer flower border soil, grey goldenrod may not reseed dependably. But that problem is easily corrected by saving your own seed and sowing it in well-drained, dry potting soil. This species is available from nurseries only as seed, not plants. In nature it is widely distributed, from Nova Scotia to Alberta and southward from Florida through Texas.
Ohio Goldenrod (S. ohioensis) This is one of the best species for the sunny flower border, if you are looking for a big, showy, late-season goldenrod that is also well behaved. It does well in soils rich with organic matter. The flower heads are large, spreading domes above stalks that range from 2 to 4 feet tall. Ohio goldenrod has excellent disease-free foliage, too. It is widely adapted though its native range is only around the Great Lakes, and between western New York and southern Ontario down to Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan.
Stiff Goldenrod (S. rigida) Late-blooming stiff goldenrod is another clump-forming native that merits a spot in the back of the border with other large plants. Even though it’s 3 to 5 feet tall, it won’t flop gracelessly onto its neighbor. And it won’t run rampant. Stiff goldenrod grows well in a wide range of soils in full sun. Its brilliant yellow flower clusters were once a common sight across the American heartland. This plant is native from Connecticut west to Alberta and from Georgia to New Mexico.
Fireworks Goldenrod (S. rugosa ‘Fireworks’) Twenty-two years ago, this plant arrived at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in a spadeful of soil dug to preserve savannah plants on a site about to be bulldozed for construction in coastal North Carolina. It produces a spectacular spray of arching branches, each covered in a thin row of yellow flowers. The effect is like a cascade of trailing fireworks. The plant gets 3 to 4 feet tall, about a foot shorter than average for the species. It grows best on moderately fertile soils in full sun. Native from Newfoundland to Michigan southward from Florida into Texas.
Showy Goldenrod (S. speciosa) Showy goldenrod makes elegant mid-sized clumps topped with 12-inch spires of bright yellow. It grows on loam to very light sand, usually reaching 2 to 3 feet tall. It is native to prairies, fields and open woodlands, from southern New Hampshire west to Wyoming and south from Georgia into Texas.
A strain of S. speciosa is called “sweet goldenrod” because the stems are sweetly scented if handled. It is slightly shorter-about two feet-than average, but otherwise is similar in looks and in growth requirements.
Golden Fleece Goldenrod (S. sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’) This variety also originated in North Carolina, but was introduced by the Mt. Cuba Center for the Study of Piedmont Flora near Wilmington, Delaware. Unlike the species, which reaches to 4 feet tall, ‘Golden Fleece’ splays its 15-inch stems out over the soil and makes a loose ground cover about 6 inches tall for the front of flower borders. The foliage is vigorous and healthy. Clumps enlarge slowly, about 4 to 6 inches a year. The large round flower heads are effective for at least a month. The plant grows well in a sunny location in average garden soil. It is worth trying outside its native range, which is narrow: from southern Virginia west to southern Indiana, south to Georgia and west to Alabama.
European Goldenrod (S. virgaurea) There are 30-some varieties of these compact, clump-forming goldenrods. They look like miniature versions of the ubiquitous and huge Solidago canadensis. But they are tidy plants, most topping out at around 2 feet. Some long-established cultivars are ‘Baby Sun’, ‘Crown of Rays’, ‘Cloth of Gold’, ‘Golden Mosa’, and ‘Peter Pan’. Any of them are worth trying. But remember, as garden plants they need to be babied-give them good soil improved with organic matter and a regular supply of water. And they bloom in midsummer, not at the end of the season. They are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
How to Grow and Use Goldenrod
All the Solidago species are very easy to grow. They are relatively pest and drought tolerant. As with most fall-blooming plants, they are best planted and divided in spring. Rejuvenate the clumps by dividing every 4 to 6 years. Dig the plant with a fork and carefully break the clump into pieces with four or more shoots each.
As your crop of goldenrods increases, you’ll be able to use them liberally to bring brilliance to the late border. Goldenrods are the perfect match for the other fall classics: Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, any of the myriad asters or Eupatorium, the deep purple Vernonia or the aster-goldenrod hybrid, Solidaster. Species, such as S. rigida, are best in naturalistic gardens. Many goldenrods make excellent cut flowers.
Jack Ruttle is a former editor at National Gardening.
Photography by Sabin Gratz/National Gardening Association
The Truth about Goldenrod
And the diversity doesn’t end there. One species, with a paler color, is actually called “Silverod.”
Goldenrod in Gardens? Absolutely! You can transplant the common natives into your perennial garden, but if you do, they’ll take over in no time, so it’s better to buy a few of the fancier hybrids at the garden center or by mailorder. Did I hear someone gasp, “Goldenrod Hybrids?” That always happens. But yes, the Solidagos are one of the best examples of how the Europeans have made much of many of the North American wildflowers we ignore as weeds. Years ago, European hybridizers, mostly in Germany, became fascinated with our tall late-blooming goldenrods, and took them home and changed them. Cultivars like “Golden Fleece” and “Fireworks” have been around a long time, and there are newer ones like “Little Lemon”, only about 12-16″ tall. All the nursery hybrids are “well-behaved”, which means they won’t take over your whole yard like their country cousins. Instead, they’ll add brilliant color late in the season when all your fancy perennials are finished.
Of course, if you’re talking about a wildflower meadow, you must have them–either the natives or the hybrids, depending on how much work you want to do. Their fall color, along with perennial sunflowers plus the blues and whites of native asters is essential to a fall wildflower display.
Magnificent for cutting. Last but not least, goldenrods are not just a flower that is “good for cutting.” They are spectacular for cutting. Here’s why. Most of them decorate themselves with plume-shaped sprays of tiny flowers when they bloom. And as you notice along the roadside, these pointed plumes bend elegantly this way and that in a healthy stand of the species in bloom. Well, it’ll be the same in your vase. Collect an armload of these big wild beauties when they’re fresh and new (Nobody will mind, and they’re even easy to pick. Even the tallest ones snap off with your hand. No shears needed.) and put them in a vase.
Then put in some cosmos, late roses, lilies, purple coneflowers (like in the arrangement at the top) or any other colorful blooms you have in fall, and you’ll see. Lush, glowing goldenrod is probably the best “filler” there is for flower arrangements. Unlike baby’s breath or others, it doesn’t just add body to the arrangement. It adds elegant plumes, pointing left, right, and straight up in the middle. The big floppy pyramids of color literally arrange themselves. And in no time, you’ll have a big beautiful arrangement everyone will love.
So the next time you notice a whole roadside turing yellow with goldenrod, don’t ignore them. Notice the beauty and elegance of the individual flower heads. You’ll be looking at one of the grand groups of native American flowers.
Ravensong Seeds & Herbals
Goldenrod, Western Goldenrod, Western Canada Goldenrod
Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
Canada, Western US, Northern Mexico. It can be found extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This herb is epically beautiful. It is commonly cultivated as a garden plant because it is pretty lovely to look at. It spreads by slender rhizomes to form neat patches in the garden but does not become invasive. It enjoys a moist spot in sun or part-shade, and will grow to about three or four feet tall and wide on average.
Full sun to part sun, will tolerate most soil types.
Seeds germinate most successfully when direct sown in fall or spring. They can also be started in flats in the spring and then transplanted out once the seedlings are sturdy.
Goldenrod is a low maintenance plant. It is tolerant of both drought and overly moist soil. Plants can be cut back after flowering,
Goldenrod is in full bloom in July and can be found in gardens, and in the wild along roadsides, moist meadows, and along the edges of clearcuts. It is often found in the same habitat and blooming along side its good friend Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium). The aerial parts of Goldenrod can be collected any time from early flower throughout the bloom season which continues into August. The leaves dry well and make a yummy tea. The flowers, like with many other members of the Asteraceae Family, turn to fluff when dried.
The new shoots of Goldenrod can be eaten as a edible green in the springtime.
The Latin genus name Solidego can be literally translated as ‘to make whole’, a reference to the plants medicinal properties. Sitting with its deeply golden yellow flowers which are held strong upon sturdy stalks, one can get a glimpse of this plants power to mend not just our outer wounds, but our inner wounds too. Its flowers like torches to light our path and urge us onward, Goldenrod is a champion for our souls.
Goldenrod is a specific remedy for inflammation of the respiratory tract, especially when there is a build up of mucus. It helps to calm inflammation of the throat, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles, and helps the body to expel excess mucus contained in these passages. It is also helpful for the treatment of bladder infections, due to its diuretic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It makes a good tonic herb for strengthening the bladder and kidneys.
Native Plant Garden, Woodland Garden, Apothecary Garden, Drought Tolerant, Low Maintenance, Deer Resistant, Attracts Pollinators, Container Garden, Cut Flowers.
Goldenrod Care: Information And Tips For How To Grow Goldenrod Plants
Goldenrods (Solidago) spring up en masse in the natural summer landscape. Topped with plumes of fluffy yellow flowers, goldenrod is sometimes considered a weed. Unknowing gardeners may find it a nuisance and wonder, “What is the plant goldenrod good for?” Goldenrod plants have multiple uses, from providing shelter to larvae of beneficial insects to attracting butterflies. Learn how to grow goldenrod and experience the many benefits.
What is the Plant Goldenrod Good For?
After learning the many benefits of planting goldenrod and the simplicity of goldenrod care, you may wish to include it near your garden. Goldenrod plants provide nectar for migrating butterflies and bees, encouraging them to remain in the area and pollinate your crops. Planting goldenrod near the vegetable garden can draw bad bugs away from valuable vegetables. Goldenrods attract beneficial insects as well, which may do away with damaging insects when they approach the food source offered by these plants.
More than a hundred varieties of goldenrod exist, with one for every climate. Many are native to the United States. Goldenrod plants are clump-forming perennial wildflowers that exist on rainwater and add a golden beauty to the landscape. Often thought of as the cause of summer allergies, the species is falsely accused, as the pollen from allergy-creating ragweed is present at the time of goldenrod blooms. All goldenrods are late bloomers, flowering in late summer throughout fall with stunning bright yellow flowers.
How to Grow Goldenrod Plants
Growing and planting goldenrod is easy, as this plant will survive just about anywhere, though it does prefer to be grown in full sun. Goldenrod also tolerates various soil types as long as it’s well draining.
Goldenrod care is minimal once established in the landscape, with plants returning each year. They require little, if any watering, and are drought tolerant. Clumps need division every four to five years. Cuttings may also be taken in spring and planted in the garden.
Learning how to grow goldenrod offers many advantages. Bad bugs can be drawn to the plant and consumed by beneficial insects that hatch their young there. Planting goldenrod adds beauty and attracts butterflies to your landscape.
Solidago Seeds – Goldenrod Flower Seed
USDA Zones: 3 – 9
Height: 24 – 36 inches
Bloom Season: Late summer and fall
Bloom Color: Golden
Environment: Full sun
Soil Type: Sand, loam, well-drained, pH 6.2 – 7.4
Foliage Color: Light green
Average Germ Time: 10 – 14 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Surface sow down to 1/8 inch
Sowing Rate: 5000 seeds covers 200 square feet
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 8 – 24 inches
Care & Maintenance: Solidago
Goldenrod (Solidago) – This perennial is easily propagated from Solidago seeds. This Goldenrod wildflower is very versatile, native to the United States and has many uses such as roadside plantings, providing wildlife with food and habitat, naturalized settings and wild flower gardens. Solidago Goldenrod is one of the best wild flowers for late fall blooming and is very showy with large heads and flower clusters. Butterflies, hummingbirds, goldfinches, and other small birds are attracted to Solidago and feed on its nectar and flower seeds. Not only are the flowers lovely, but the leaves are also attractive all summer long turning to a rose color in fall. Solidago wildflower is best grown in full sun and well-drained garden soil.
Sow Solidago seeds directly outdoors in a weed free seedbed. Goldenrod seeds benefit from a late fall planting. The cold, moist weather of winter will actually help break the dormancy of the flower seeds. Broadcast the seed in late fall or early winter and lightly rake the Goldenrod seeds into the soil. When temperatures warm in the spring, the seed will begin to germinate.
How to design with goldenrod
If there’s one quintessential perennial for fall color, it’s goldenrod. What other plant can create such exuberant masses of golden yellow blooms to echo the changing fall foliage? From sun to shade and wet to dry soil, there’s one to suit most garden conditions.
To design with goldenrod in your garden, start with these three tips:
- Goldenrod makes itself right at home in large borders, managed meadows and naturalized areas.
- This is a perennial that tends to look better in mass plantings, so plant at least three of whichever type you choose. Some have feathery plume-shaped flowers; others are spiky or flat-topped like yarrow.
- Pay close attention to the mature height when you’re shopping for goldenrod since they can range from 1 to 6 feet tall.
Now let’s see how you can incorporate this glitzy gold perennial into your garden.
Use shorter goldenrod to fill the front of the border
Topping out at 3 feet, shorter goldenrods look best when you plant them near the front to middle of the border. One of my favorites is ‘Golden Fleece’. Its bright yellow sprays of flowers remind me of party streamers when they burst into bloom on arching stems. Its heart-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves form a low mound so until it blooms, the foliage acts like a short ground cover.
Plants that combine well with shorter goldenrods
- ‘Golden Fleece’ is especially showy when you pair it with blue- or purple-flowered perennials like the Russian sage in the photo above. Imagine how that energetic pop of yellow would look against the dramatic violet blue backdrop of monkshood or ‘Purple Dome’ New England asters in fall.
- Native grasses like prairie dropseed and little bluestem also make good planting partners since they all peak at the same time of year.
- Many of the shorter goldenrods prefer dry to average soils and full sun. A few more well-behaved varieties for those conditions include ‘Wichita Mountains’, a heat- and drought-tolerant variety, ‘Golden Baby’ (also known as ‘Goldkind’) and showy goldenrod, a spreading ground cover.
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Use goldenrod to grow a gorgeous meadow
Some of the most incredible naturalized plantings you’ll find exist in the muddy swales of sunny meadows. Many of the taller native species are very flexible about where they’ll grow, tolerating almost any soil type from wet clay to dry sand. But keep in mind they also tend to be faster spreading than some of the shorter cultivars, so they’ll need plenty of room to make an impact. Stiff goldenrod above is one that spreads readily by underground rhizomes and by seed. Rather than having feathery plumes like many species, it produces huge, flat-topped panicles up to a foot across. They make an ideal landing pad for monarch butterflies who tend to prefer this species, and songbirds who use this plant as an important late-season food source.
Tall, moisture-loving native perennials to partner with goldenrod
Plant the plants below with goldenrod to create a moist meadow that comes alive in festive hues of gold, red and purple from late summer into fall. Then, leave their ornamental seed heads standing through winter to provide food for birds and something pretty to look at when the garden is blanketed in snow.
- Cardinal flower
- Joe-Pye weed
Brighten up a shade garden with goldenrod
A few species of goldenrod are native to woodlands, so they grow better with protection from the hot sun. Blue-stemmed goldenrod in the photo above is beautiful in mass plantings. It has a unique shape in that most of its stems grow horizontally, forming a low, broad mound in the landscape. Blue-stemmed goldenrod will reseed where it’s growing happily. Luminous shades of yellow are important to include in shade garden designs — yellow acts like a light bulb in dark spaces.
Other bright plants to include in the shade garden
When designing a shade border, I always make sure to include something yellow or chartreuse at least every 10 feet and repeat it down the line to unify the planting. These companions also brighten up the space:
- Lavender-blue hardy ageratum
- White-flowered wood aster