A North American native, goldenrod (Solidago spp.) is a fall-blooming, golden-flowered perennial that provides color in August and September.
Some goldenrods have plumes, and others have flatter tops similar to Queen Anne's lace. Choose some of the newer, smaller cultivars that are compact, tidy, and maintenance free. It's often mistakenly thought that goldenrod causes hay fever, but the real culprit is wind-born pollen from ragweed and other plants flowering about the same time.
Common name: Goldenrod
Botanical name: Solidago spp.
Plant type: Woody perennial
Height: 2 to 72 inches tall, depending on species. Most are 18 to 36 inches tall.
Zones: 3 to 9, depending on species
- Sun: Full sun
- Soil: Well-drained, moderately fertile
- Moisture: Moderate to dry
- Mulch: None required except to deter weeds
- Fertilizer: Excessive fertilizer makes goldenrod tall and weak.
- Pruning: Cut spent flowers to prevent unwanted reseeding.
- ‘Fireworks' (pictured above) forms a mound of gold spikes in autumn. Grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Zones 4 to 8.
- ‘Cloth of Gold' has butter-yellow plumes and grows 18 inches tall. Zones 4 to 9.
- ‘Crown of Rays' has tiny yellow panicles of flowers in fall. Grows 24 inches tall. Zones 4 to 9.
- ‘Golden Baby' has celosia-type, bright yellow plumes on a compact, dwarf mound. Grows 24 inches tall. Zones 5 to 9.
- Goldenrods are especially attractive in wildflower and cottage gardens.
- Combine goldenrod with Rudbeckia, Helenium, asters, and coneflowers for a burst of late-summer color.
- Taller varieties may need staking, especially when heavy rains occur or too much fertilizer is applied. Shorter cultivars stay neater.
- Water weekly when there is no summer rain.
- Goldenrods with plume-like flowers are pretty in cut-flower arrangements.
Pests and diseases
- Fungal diseases occur occasionally.
- Divide in mid-fall or early spring.
All in the family
- Several familiar perennials are part of the Asteraceae family, including Achillea (yarrow), Anaphalis (pearly everlasting), Artemisia (mugwort), aster, Centaurea (annual and perennial bachelor's buttons), and Liatris (gayfeather).
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder