Goldenrods, or solidago, are herbaceous perennials that are mostly native to North America, where they're found growing in sunny, open areas such as meadows and prairies. They're members of the daisy family (Asteraceae) and have vivid yellow, often conical flower heads that are made up of many, small, daisy-like flowers. Solidago virgaurea, the European goldenrod or woundwort, is native to many parts of Europe. It was traditionally used to heal wounds, and a yellow dye was produced from the flowers.
Goldenrods were introduced to UK gardens from North America in the 19th century and were popular plants in herbaceous borders until they fell out of favour, probably due to the plants' thuggish tendencies. One garden escapee, Solidago canadensis, is now often found on waste ground and is considered an invasive species in some European countries.
Goldenrod is now coming back into fashion, however. Smaller, less invasive garden hybrids are now available and they look great in a herbaceous border or in a naturalistic or prairie planting scheme. They combine brilliantly with blue asters and aconitums, ornamental grasses and Verbena bonariensis for a stunning late summer show. The flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies, bees and other pollinators, too.
How to grow goldenrod
Grow goldenrod in full sun in well-drained soil. It does very well in sandy soils. Divide every few years in spring and deadhead promptly if you don't want plants to self seed.
Growing goldenrod: jump links
- Planting goldenrod
- Caring for goldenrod
- Propagating goldenrod
- Growing goldenrod: problem-solving
- Best goldenrod to grow
Where to grow goldenrod
Grow goldenrod on a sunny spot, in well-drained soil.
How to plant goldenrod
Dig a hole that's a little larger than the root ball, place the root ball in it, backfill with soil and firm in well. Water regularly initially to help the plant establish. You can also grow goldenrod from small plug plants – pop them into the ground in spring.
Caring for goldenrod
Goldenrod is easy to care for and does not need feeding or watering. It should get all the water it needs from rainfall. Divide every three or four years if necessary and deadhead if you do not want plants to self seed. Cut back after flowering.
How to propagate goldenrod
Divide plants in spring. Plants may self seed, so if you don't want them to do this, deadhead immediately after flowering.
Growing goldenrod: problem solving
Goldenrod is largely trouble free but powdery mildew can be a problem, especially on damp, waterlogged soil. Try growing the variety 'Golden Fleece', which is said to be resistant to mildew.
Varieties of goldenrod to grow
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' ('Feuerwerke') – this clump forming variety produces masses of branching spikes, smothered in tiny bright golden-yellow flowers.
H x S: 90cm x 60cm
Solidago 'Goldenmosa' has loose pyramid-shaped flower heads.
H x S: 75cm x 50cm
Solidago 'Golden Fleece' – a compact variety with flat, yellow flowerheads. Resistant to mildew
H x S: 60cm x 40cm
Solidago 'Little Lemon' – a compact variety with lemon-yellow plumes on upright stems
H x S: 45cm x 60cm
Solidago virgaurea – the native European goldenrod
H x S: 60cm x 50cm