Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | Sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora)

June 9, 2021

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Goldenrod is a beautiful native that offers late season interest. Many people think goldenrods are responsible for discomforts of fall hay fever, but that is a bad rap. The culprit is actually ragweed which blooms at the same time with copious, pollen-laden, inconspicuous green flowers.

There are many goldenrods, all native to North America, many found locally on Long Island and throughout the northeast. Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) is emblematic of coastal dune flora, a tall wand of yellow flowers in late summer with glossy leaves and a clumping habit. Unfortunately, it resists domestication in average garden conditions. More amenable is hairy goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) with its gracefully drooping wands of yellow flowers and deep green leaves. Like many goldenrods, it is tall (3-4 feet) and can be invasive.

One of the best goldenrods for garden use is sweet goldenrod (S. odora), a non-invasive clump former with golden yellow flowers and licorice-scented, attractive foliage. Most goldenrods prefer growing in full sun, but bluestem goldenrod (S. caesia) prefers the shade of woodlands. With arching plumes of yellow flowers, it grows 2-3 feet tall.

Goldenrods look good planted with blue flowers like asters or monkshood, and other late summer bloomers. They are also good choices for meadows, naturalizing projects, and woodland edges. Drought-resistant, they provide food and shelter for many birds and butterflies.


Goldenrod plants, grown from seed, will go into the garden this week

I’ve grown a few species from seed and have planted hairy and bluestem here at Bridge Gardens. They will be, I hope, a feature in the parking lot and driveway planting beds. I had sweet goldenrod but the rabbits ate them. I will try again, and will also plant homegrown, showy goldenrod (S. speciosa) this year.

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