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Solidago (Goldenrod)

Goldenrod, Golden Rod

Solidago, Goldenrod, Golden Rod

Solidago, commonly known as goldenrod, is a vibrant and versatile perennial plant with clusters of small yellow flowers that brighten up gardens and attract pollinators.

What is Goldenrod?

Solidago, commonly known as Goldenrod, is a diverse genus of flowering plants in the Aster family, Asteraceae.

Native: Solidago species are native to North and South America, with a few species in Eurasia.

Habit and Size: Solidago has an upright growth habit, typically reaching heights of 1 to 5 feet (30 to 150 cm), depending on the variety. It forms clumps of foliage with long stems that bear dense clusters of small, yellow flowers. The plant has a bushy appearance and spreads through underground rhizomes.

Flowers: The golden-yellow flowers are small but dense, forming showy, erect, or arching plumes or panicles. 

Foliage: Leaves are usually lanceolate (long and thin), with some variation depending on the species. They are usually alternately arranged along the stem.

Blooming Season: Solidago species typically bloom from mid to late summer into fall, often until the first frost.

Hardiness: The hardiness also varies with species, but most are hardy in USDA zones 3-9.

Uses: Goldenrods are often used in perennial borders, meadows, native plant gardens, or naturalized areas. They’re also valued for their late-season pollen source by beekeepers.

Pollinators: Solidago species are incredibly attractive to a wide range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

Toxicity: Goldenrods are generally considered non-toxic to humans and animals, but as with any plant, ingestion in large quantities could cause a negative reaction.

Invasiveness: Some Solidago species, especially Solidago canadensis or Solidago gigantea, are considered invasive in certain areas due to their aggressive spreading habit.

Key Facts: Despite the common belief, goldenrods are not responsible for hay fever; their pollen is too heavy to be wind-borne. The real culprit is usually ragweed, which blooms at the same time but has inconspicuous flowers.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Solidago
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 5'
(30cm - 150cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Cut Flowers
Native Plants United States, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Northeast, California, Southwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Solidago caesia (Wreath Goldenrod)
Solidago rugosa (Rough Goldenrod)
Solidago sempervirens (Seaside Goldenrod)

Why Should I Grow Goldenrod?

Goldenrod is an excellent addition to any garden for a variety of reasons:

Pollinator Attraction: Goldenrods are famous for attracting various pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects, which can help to enhance the overall health of your garden.

Late Season Color: Blooming from late summer into the fall, Goldenrod provides color and vibrancy when many other plants are starting to fade.

Drought Tolerance: Once established, Goldenrod is notably drought-tolerant, making it a fantastic choice for water-wise gardens or landscapes in dry regions.

Easy Maintenance: Goldenrod is known for its hardiness and adaptability to a wide range of soil and light conditions, making it an easy-care plant for many gardeners.

Supports Wildlife: Many birds use Goldenrod’s fluffy seeds for nest building and as a food source during the winter months.

Design Flexibility: Goldenrod’s vibrant blooms and appealing structure can fit well into various garden styles, including meadow-style, naturalistic landscapes, or traditional flower beds.

Remember, Goldenrods are native plants in many regions, so they’re also a great choice for ecological gardens aiming to support local biodiversity. But always choose a species that’s native to your area to prevent any potential for invasive behavior.

Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod)
Solidago nemoralis (Gray Goldenrod)
Solidago odora (Sweet Goldenrod)

Goldenrod Varieties

Solidago caesia: Solidago caesia, commonly known as Wreath Goldenrod, is a compact perennial with arching branches and attractive blue-green foliage. It produces clusters of small, bright yellow flowers in late summer, adding a pop of color to the garden and attracting pollinators. This goldenrod is less aggressive than the tall goldenrods.

Solidago odora: Solidago odora, commonly known as sweet goldenrod, is a fragrant perennial plant that adds beauty and aroma to gardens. With its clusters of bright yellow flowers and aromatic foliage, it attracts pollinators and adds a delightful touch to any landscape. Its leaves and dried flowers may be used in teas.

Solidago rugosa: Solidago rugosa, also known as rough-leaved goldenrod, is a hardy perennial that features attractive clusters of golden-yellow flowers on tall, sturdy stems. With its rugged foliage and vibrant blooms, it adds beauty and pollinator activity to gardens and natural areas. It makes a perfect choice for the sunny border or naturalized areas where it can roam freely. The cultivar ‘Fireworks‘ is more compact, easier to contain, and flowers more vigorously than the species.

Solidago speciosa: Solidago speciosa, commonly known as showy goldenrod, is a native perennial that boasts stunning, plume-like clusters of bright yellow flowers. Its bold, upright growth habit and attractive foliage make it a standout in gardens and meadows while also providing valuable nectar for pollinators.

Solidago sphacelata: Solidago sphacelata, also known as woodland goldenrod, is a native perennial that thrives in shaded areas. It displays clusters of bright yellow flowers atop slender stems and features attractive, lance-shaped leaves. With its ability to tolerate shade, it adds vibrant color to woodland gardens and naturalized areas. Its popular hybrid,’Golden Fleece’, is a compact variety that reaches just 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) in height with sprays of small, bright yellow flowers.

Solidago bicolor: Solidago bicolor, commonly known as White Goldenrod, is a North American perennial with striking yellow and white flowers. This compact and bushy plant adds a touch of elegance to gardens and attracts pollinators with its nectar-rich blooms. It thrives in full sun to part shade and well-drained soils.

Solidago bicolor (White Goldenrod)
Solidago altissima (Tall Goldenrod)
Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’ (Goldenrod)

Garden Design with Goldenrod

Goldenrod is a fantastic plant to incorporate into garden design due to its bright, showy flowers that bloom late in the season, providing a much-needed splash of color when many other plants are starting to fade. Here’s how you can incorporate it into your garden design:

Border Planting: Goldenrods are excellent for border plantings due to their tall height and spectacular flower displays. They can be used to create a vibrant backdrop for lower-growing plants or can be mixed with other late-season bloomers.

Wildlife Gardens: Goldenrods are incredibly valuable in wildlife gardens. Their nectar-rich flowers are a magnet for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, while their seeds provide food for birds during the winter.

Prairie or Meadow Gardens: Goldenrod is a native prairie plant, and it looks at home in naturalistic prairie or meadow-style gardens mixed with grasses and other native wildflowers.

Cut Flower Gardens: The bright, long-lasting flowers of goldenrod are excellent for cutting and using in floral arrangements.

Companion Planting: Goldenrods pair beautifully with other late-season bloomers like asters and chrysanthemums. Their bright yellow flowers also contrast well with the blue or purple flowers of plants like Russian sage or Michaelmas daisies.

Drought-tolerant Landscaping: Most goldenrod species are very drought-tolerant once established, making them a good choice for xeriscaping or other water-wise garden designs.

Remember, goldenrods can spread quite aggressively through both seeds and underground rhizomes, so be sure to give them plenty of room to grow or choose clump-forming species or cultivars if space is limited.

Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ (Goldenrod)
Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’ (Goldenrod)
Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ (Rough Goldenrod)

Companion Plants

Goldenrod (Solidago) pairs beautifully with a variety of plants in the garden. Here are 15 good companion plants for Goldenrod:

Asters (Aster spp.): The purple blooms of asters create a stunning contrast with goldenrod’s yellow flowers.

Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan): Another native perennial with bright yellow flowers that bloom around the same time as goldenrod.

Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.): Their striking form and colors pair well with goldenrod.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum): This ornamental grass adds movement and texture to the garden and pairs well with goldenrod.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma): Its bright red or pink flowers and its attractiveness to pollinators make it a great companion for goldenrod.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata): Its white, pink, or purple flowers look stunning next to goldenrod.

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata): With its tall spikes of purple flowers, it contrasts well with the shape and color of goldenrod.

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.): Sunflowers and goldenrod both feature bright yellow flowers, making them a great match.

Sedum (Sedum spp.): Late blooming sedums like “Autumn Joy” complement goldenrod’s fall color and attract butterflies.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): The soft, silvery foliage and lavender-blue flowers of Russian sage create a lovely contrast with goldenrod’s bold, yellow flowers.

Companion Plants for Solidago

Liatris spicata (Blazing Star)
Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)
Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)
Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed Susan)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Growing Tips

Growing Solidago, also known as Goldenrod, is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require extensive gardening skills. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Choosing the Right Location: Goldenrod thrives in full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. They can adapt to a variety of soil types, including clay, sandy, or rocky soil, but they prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH.

Planting: Plant Goldenrod in the early spring or fall. Dig a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the root ball, place the plant in the hole, and backfill with soil, pressing down firmly. Space the plants about 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) apart, depending on the species.

Watering: After planting, water thoroughly. Goldenrods are drought-tolerant once established, but they do need regular watering in the first growing season and during extended dry periods.

Fertilizing: Goldenrod does not generally require fertilization. However, if your soil is particularly poor, you may add some compost or a slow-release granular fertilizer in the spring.

Pruning: You can prune Goldenrod in the early spring to control its size and promote bushier growth. Cut the plants back to about half their height.

Dividing: Over time, goldenrod can spread and become dense. Divide the plants every few years in the early spring or fall to maintain vigor.

Pest and Disease Control: Goldenrods are relatively pest and disease resistant. However, keep an eye out for rust, powdery mildew, and leaf spots. Proper plant spacing for good air circulation can help prevent these issues.

Remember, while Goldenrods are native to North America and beneficial to many pollinators, some species can be invasive in certain areas. Always choose species appropriate for your region and monitor their spread.

Goldenrod, Solidago canadensis

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Goldenrod good for?

Goldenrod is a plant species that has been used in traditional medicine and herbalism for centuries, particularly by Native American tribes. Here are some potential uses and benefits of Goldenrod:

Medicinal Uses: Goldenrod is used in traditional medicine for various health conditions. It’s believed to be a diuretic, which helps the body get rid of excess fluid, and it may be used to help with urinary tract issues, kidney stones, and inflammation. Goldenrod is also often used in the treatment of allergies, colds, flu, bronchitis, and tuberculosis. It can help to reduce inflammation and has antifungal properties. Additionally, it’s used topically for wounds and burns.

Tea: Goldenrod leaves and flowers are often dried and used to make a herbal tea. This tea is said to have a pleasant, anise-like flavor and is believed to have a number of potential health benefits, similar to the medicinal uses mentioned above.

However, while goldenrod has edible parts and has been used traditionally in herbal medicine, it’s important to note that scientific research is limited on the extent of its health benefits.

What does goldenrod symbolize?

Goldenrod is often associated with various symbolic meanings across different cultures and contexts. One of the most common symbols associated with goldenrod is wealth, due to its vibrant, golden color. It’s also often seen as a symbol of good luck or good fortune.

In terms of its association with the change of season, goldenrod is a sign of the approach of autumn, given its late summer to fall blooming season. As a result, it can symbolize change, transformation, and the cyclical nature of life.

Furthermore, in the language of flowers, a Victorian-era system of symbolic communication in which various plants and flowers were assigned specific meanings, goldenrod often represented caution or encouragement to take care.

Is goldenrod good to eat?

Goldenrod is generally considered safe to eat in moderate amounts. The leaves and flowers of the plant can be consumed and are often used in teas, salads, or as a garnish. Some people use them in soups or stews as well. Its flavor is typically mild, somewhat similar to anise. As always, ensure proper identification before consuming any wild plant, and consult a healthcare provider if you’re introducing a new plant into your diet, especially if you have any allergies or medical conditions.

Garden Examples

A Terrific Fall Border with Asters, Solidago and Rudbeckia
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Solidago
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 5'
(30cm - 150cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Cut Flowers
Native Plants United States, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Northeast, California, Southwest, Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Pacific Northwest, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
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