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Field of goldenrod with red barn

Wisconsin Native Goldenrod

Goldenrod natives, genus Solidago, have much to recommend them:

  Deer resistant
  Magnificent for cut flowers
  Easy to grow
  Attracts bees and butterflies
  Blooms in the late fall when most everything else has faded

Generally speaking, goldenrods are tough perennial plants that are tall and slim with fluffy golden flower spikes. Goldenrod tends to be invasive so you want to think carefully about where you place these plants in your garden. If that is a concern, you may want to try ZigZag Goldenrod, a woodland species that doesn't spread and crowd out other plants like the tall varieties.

If you have late summer allergies, it’s NOT the goldenrod. The much plainer ragweed sends buckets of pollen into the air. Goldenrod pollen is much too heavy to be airborne.

Goldenrod Is Insect Pollinated

Honey bee gathering pollen from goldenrod plant

Goldenrods are a tremendous resource for a wide diversity of insects, including both specialist and generalist bees. Goldenrod is a major resource for honey bees, both nectar and pollen. Dozens of other bee species also visit goldenrod, including bumble bees, long-horned bees, sweat bees, and many of the digger bees active in the fall. There are 11 species of solitary bees that are goldenrod specialists in Wisconsin.

Goldenrods make great plants to attract butterflies to your garden or backyard habitat. The numerous small flowers of goldenrods are filled with nectar. Those many small flowers are filled with pollen, too. This means the flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators including nectar-sipping butterflies.

Honey Bees Depend On Goldenrod In Fall

Goldenrods are among the most important late-season pollinator plants. Honey bees frequently collect large amounts of goldenrod nectar prior to winter. Many beekeepers depend on goldenrod as their colonies’ primary winter food source and often report honey gains of 50 to 80 pounds per colony. Goldenrod honey is typically dark, thick, somewhat pungent in aroma.

Goldenrod Plant Care

Monarch gathering nectar from goldenrod plant

Light: Goldenrod craves full sun for optimal flowering. The plant will tolerate a bit of shade, though this can minimize its blooms.

Soil: Goldenrod is not overly picky about its soil, as long as there is good drainage. It can even tolerate sandy, rocky, and clay soils. Soil that is very rich can cause the plant to get leggy and potentially flop over.

Water: Water new goldenrod plants weekly to maintain moderately moist (but not soggy) soil. Mature goldenrod plants have good drought tolerance and rarely need supplemental watering unless you have a long stretch without rainfall.

Termperature and Humidity: Goldenrod thrives in the various temperatures throughout its growing zones, and it does not have specific humidity requirements. Frost will cause the plant to die back into the ground for the winter.

Fertilizer: Unless you have very poor soil, fertilization is normally not necessary

Growing Goldenrod From Seed

Goldenrod seed

Goldenrod is not widely available as seedlings due to its invasive nature, but growing the plant from seed is easy. After the danger of frost has passed spread the seed onto moist garden soil, taking care only to cover areas where you want goldenrod to sprout. Keep the soil evenly moist until sprouts appear, and then let the area dry out in between waterings.

You also can start seeds indoors roughly 6 to 8 weeks before your last projected frost date and transplant the seedlings outdoors once the weather has warmed.

Wisconsin Native Goldenrod Species

Anise Scented Goldenrod

Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow

Blue-Stemmed Goldenrod

Bradburys Beebalm, Monarda bradburiana Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4,5
Soil : Loam, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Color: Yellow

Canadian Goldenrod

Scarlet Beebalm, Monarda	 didyma Height: 4-5 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry
Color: Yellow

Cliff Goldenrod

Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata Height: 1½-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Color: Yellow

Early Goldenrod

Lemon Beebalm, Monarda citriodora Height: 3-7 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Med, Moist,Wet
Color: Yellow

Ohio Goldenrod

Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata Height: 3-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4,5
Soil: Clay,Loam,Sand
Moisture: Medium,Moist
Color: Yellow

Old Field Goldenrod

Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa Height: 6-24 Inches
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 2,3,4,5
Soil: Loam, Sand,Rocky
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow

Riddells Goldenrod

Bradburys Beebalm, Monarda bradburiana Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4,5
Soil : Loam, Clay
Moisture: Moist,Wet
Color: Yellow

Showy Goldenrod

Scarlet Beebalm, Monarda	 didyma Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Loam,Sand
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Color: Yellow

Stiff Goldenrod

Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata Height: 3-5 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Loam, Clay,Sand
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Color: Yellow

Swamp Goldenrod

Lemon Beebalm, Monarda citriodora Height: 5 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Clay,Sand,Loam
Moisture: Moist,Wet
Color: Yellow

Zigzag Goldenrod

Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer/Fall
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3,4,5
Soil: Loam,Sand
Moisture: Dry,Medium
Color: Yellow

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Lovely Native Phlox
 Use Eggshells For Your Plants
 How to Use Banana Peels in Your Garden

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