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Goldenrod, a genus of more than 100 species (mostly from North America), brightens the landscape with its vibrant yellow or gold flowers. It also bursts into bloom when many other perennials are winding down in preparation for winter’s colder weather. Along with its visual star power, this tough perennial attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with its tasty pollen.
About that pollen: For years goldenrod has been falsely accused of causing misery for allergy sufferers. The true culprit is ragweed, Ambrosia sp., which blooms about the same time as goldenrod. Ragweed produces copious amounts of airborne pollen, while goldenrod’s heavy, sticky pollen relies upon insects—not wind—for pollination.
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Part Sun, Sun
From 1 to 8 feet
1 to 3 feet
Goldenrod begins displaying its yellow blossoms beginning in late summer and continuing into fall. Some varieties feature large flower clusters held at the tops of tall stems; others boast gracefully arching stems holding single rows of blossoms. Look closely and you'll see each large spiky, fleecy, or flat-topped flowerhead features hundreds of tiny daisylike flowers that resemble those of aster, a close relative of goldenrod.
Goldenrod Care Must-Knows
Most types of goldenrod prefer to grow in full sun and well-drained soil. Full sun ensures the biggest, showiest blossoms possible, and helps the taller species and varieties stay vertical without staking. Keeping the soil evenly moist—but not soggy—boosts the beauty of the plant's floral display. Once established, goldenrod is drought-tolerant. Forget about fertilizing; goldenrod doesn't need it to thrive, and feeding this perennial encourages floppy growth. Beware: Some goldenrod varieties spread aggressively. If your garden is neat and tidy, you may want to choose a clump-forming variety. Divide clumps annually to keep this plant under control. If your garden sports a more naturalistic look, simply leave plenty of room between goldenrod and other plants to keep it from choking them out.
Goldenrod rarely suffers from serious problems with insects or diseases. Watch for powdery mildew, though, especially when it's grown in shade. Prevention is best, so plant this perennial in full sun with ample space between plants to foster good air circulation.
Worth noting: Different species of goldenrod come from environments with widely differing soil conditions. These native habitats range from sunny meadows to salty seaside spaces and soggy bogs. You may want to do additional research on your specimen(s) before siting and planting.
More Varieties of Goldenrod
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' is a wonderful variety that can form impressive clumps of delicate airy cascading stems of gold in late summer. 3-4 feet tall. Zones 4-9.
'Little Lemon' Goldenrod
Solidago 'Dansolitlem' Little Lemon reaches just 12 to 18 inches tall—great for smaller gardens. It has large, fluffy heads of light lemon yellow. Zones 5-8