Goldenrod shines in late summer

Goldenrod is a plant every gardener should consider growing.  This late-summer bloomer is on display right now and will wow you with its golden flowers that are absolutely loved by a diverse array of pollinators and wildlife.

A native plant with benefits

Goldenrod is a native plant to Kansas which means it is a big contributor to our native insects, pollinators, and birds.  When in bloom (usually beginning in late August through September) you’ll find bees, butterflies, beneficial parasitic wasps, beetles, flower flies, and many other insect visitors busy enjoying the nectar and pollen it provides.

Goldenrod is called a ‘bridge plant’ because it provides valuable nectar and pollen to our native insects in late summer when many other summer flowering plants have finished their blooming and fall flowers aren’t quite yet ready to bloom.

Goldenrod flowers are also great as cut flowers for those who enjoy bringing nature indoors.

A common myth

It is a common myth that goldenrod causes bad allergies.  Many mistakenly blame goldenrod for their late summer allergy misery.  Goldenrod is not the culprit.  Ragweed is the real troublemaker.  Ragweed pollen goes airborne and is a potent allergen.  Goldenrod plants are insect pollinated and must rely on insects to move the pollen.

Easy to grow

Gardeners are thrilled to know that goldenrod is an easy plant to grow.  Few perennials are as adaptable.  Goldenrod will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions since it is pH and moisture adaptable.  Goldenrod is even fairly drought tolerant after it is established.

Goldenrod will often spread itself by slow underground rhizomes.  Certain varieties may spread more quickly depending on the soil type and location.  Gardeners will learn the habit of the plant in their site and adjust accordingly. 

‘Fireworks’ goldenrod

Choose goldenrod varieties that have been selected or improved for home landscape use.  Some options include: Solidago canadensis ‘Golden Baby’- dwarf goldenrod, Solidago ‘Little Lemon’ –dwarf goldenrod, Solidago caesia– wreath goldenrod, Solidago drummondii– cliff goldenrod, Solidago odora– scented goldenrod, Solidago rigida– Stiff goldenrod, Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’- fireworks goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis– gray goldenrod, Solidago ‘Wichita Mountains’- Wichita Mountains goldenrod or Solidago ulmifolia– elm leaf goldenrod.

Maintenance tips

For goldenrod varieties that grow taller it can help to cut back the stems of the plant to 4 to 6 inches in the late spring.  This will promote shorter and more compact and upright growth.  For large clumps of goldenrod, it is a good idea to dig and divide the plant every 3 to 4 years to keep it vigorous and within its allotted space in the garden.  Lastly, don’t remove the seed heads in the fall as they can provide food for birds throughout the winter.