RENEGADE GARDENER

The lone voice of horticultural reason

Solidago

 Common Name: Goldenrod

Nice plant to talk about this week, since the dozens of native species are currently blooming along roadsides, in ravines, meadows, schoolyards, alleys, farm fields, landfills, parks, forests, cliffs, and abandoned lots all across Zones 2 through 4. It’s not fussy, just pretty.

It’s also one of the first perennials I bought when I started gardening, and I still have it, S. ‘Golden Boy’ blooming right now in a small bed at the entrance to my drive.

Native cultivars number almost 30. The one pictured, shot at my cabin, is either S. canadensis or S. ohioensis, both of which grow freely throughout north-central U.S. and across much of Canada. Could even be a natural hybrid of the two, it’s nearly impossible to tell.

Cultivated varieties will give your fall garden a very commanding blast of gold to gold-yellow color that I can’t imagine lacking. Some good varieties to choose from include ‘Cloth of Gold’ (dwarf), ‘Golden Boy’ (about 2′), ‘Goldenmosa’ (upwards to 3′), and S. rugosa, a big, mean dude that can get up to 4′-5′.

Care and Use
As you can tell by the plant’s profusion in the wild, Solidago doesn’t worry too much about soil or sun. While the plant performs well in full sun, mine bloom just fine with less than four hours of direct sunlight. The nursery varieties do need more water than those in the wild, around an inch per week, the same as, say, mums.

Plant at the front of the border (except for the tallest varieties) so that the various gold spikes and spears can drape over and be seen in all their glory. Combines well with everything we grow for fall bloom, especially sedums, asters, grasses, and boltonias. Hardy pretty much to Zone 4, those of you comrades a little farther north, give it a shot, but provide winter protection once the ground has frozen.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener