As the green of summer turns to the warmer shades of autumn, bright goldenrod is the perfect plant to bridge both worlds. These feathery yellow flowers bloom in late summer and early autumn, and they catch the late summer sun at the end of the season. Native goldenrods are tall, hardy perennials, but breeders have also developed smaller, tamer cousins that are perfect for mixed garden borders.
Goldenrod — known officially as solidago — is easy to grow and pairs nicely with blue and purple asters for an early fall garden display. They are sometimes confused with ragweed, but these plants are not related. True goldenrod shouldn’t cause allergies for most people, and they’re well worth the effort to plant.
Growing Zones: 4-9
Bloom Time: Flowers in late summer through autumn
Exposure: Full sun
Mature Size: 2 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet in diameter
Notes: Goldenrod grows vigorously and can self-sow with ease, so plant with equally hardy companions in a mixed garden. Goldenrod is drought-tolerant and can stand up to windy conditions, making it a great choice for more challenging garden conditions.
Growing Goldenrod in the Landscape
Goldenrod should be planted in full sun near the back of the border where it can arch over other plants from behind to create a beautiful backdrop. It’s a vigorous grower that will fill in a large space in a season or two, so be sure to follow spacing recommendations carefully. Bees and other pollinators appreciate goldenrod as a late-season food source as well.
To plant goldenrod, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of your plant. Goldenrod is a native plant that adapts to a range of soil types, but you can add some compost to the hole to improve drainage and add fertility. Place transplants at the same level they were planted in the pot; then backfill your hole and press the soil firmly over the root ball.
Water your plant deeply and consider adding a layer of compost as a mulch to hold in moisture. Water goldenrod regularly during its first season to get it established, but in the future this plant is very drought-tolerant and only needs watering in severely dry seasons.
You can also plant goldenrod from seed in the spring by sowing seeds on top of lightly tilled soil. Press in place and keep moist until germination. Goldenrod seeds need light to germinate, so don’t cover them with soil or mulch until they sprout.
Ongoing Care for Goldenrod
Goldenrod can actually suffer from too-fertile soil, so refrain from feeding plants in the spring. These carefree plants don’t need much attention for the first several years, but you may wish to dig them up and divide the root balls in early spring if they become too big. This is a great way to propagate more plants to expand your garden or give away to friends.
After the flowers have faded, you can deadhead them to keep the plant looking neat, though this is optional. Many gardeners keep the flower heads intact for as long as bees buzz around the plants, but if you’re concerned about self-sowing, deadheading will prevent too many baby goldenrods plants from taking root. Goldenrod doesn’t attract deer and rarely succumbs to insects or disease, making it one of the easiest fall beauties to add to your landscape.