Goldenrods suitable for gardens
hould I be surprised at how advertising and the media perpetuate myths? Not really, that’s how they make money. Lots of it. Take allergy meds for instance. In a typical ad happy people walk through a field of yellow, blooming goldenrod. No runny nose, no sneezing—presumably due of the wonders of their product. The thing is goldenrod (Solidago spp.) doesn’t cause hay fever. Ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) does. They bloom at the same time, though only goldenrod flowers are visible. In addition, it is a known fact that goldenrod pollen is heavy and carried by bees, while ragweed pollen is light and carried by the
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centers for a solid cover in two years. Blue-stemmed and rough-leaved goldenrod tend to naturalize in woodland gardens so expect to see it move around from seed. Blue-stemmed prefers dry woodlands, and roughleaved likes growing in moist or Blue-stemmed Goldenrod flood-plain woodgoldenrod is aggressive in gardens lands. Buckley’s and but is a good choice for areas that Atlantic goldenrods are unknown are difficult to manage or mow like species to gardening but are real steep slopes or rocky areas. winners. Atlantic goldenrod grows Many of these species will be 3-4 ft. tall and has several horizontal available for sale at the fall Shaw long flower clusters that resemble Wildflower Market at Shaw Nature fireworks. It is a dramatic, large, Reserve in Gray Summit, Missouri, clump-forming goldenrod that has Friday, September 11, 2015 from bluish stems and lemon-yellow 4-7:30 p.m., and at the Native Plant flowers. Buckley’s goldenrod is 2 Sale at the Discovery Center in ft. tall, clump-forming, and a very Kansas City on September 19—a attractive woodland goldenrod that portion of the proceeds from this tolerates very dry to average soils. sale will benefit the conservaIn the sun showy goldenrod (S. tion work of the Missouri Prairie speciosa), Riddell’s goldenrod (S. Foundation. A number of these speridellii), stiff goldenrod (S. rigida), cies are also available from many and cliff goldenrod (S. drummondii) other Grow Native! professional vie for places in the native garden. members. Find sources of goldenCliff goldenrod can tolerate partrods and hundreds of other native shade and as the name implies, it is plants at www.grownative.org. a cliff-dweller so is drought tolerant. That said, it also thrives in averHorticulturist Scott Woodbury age garden soils. Ridell’s goldenrod is the Curator of the Whitmire is a flat-topped wetland species that Wildflower Garden at Shaw Nature is at home in a rain garden alongside Reserve, where he has worked with rose turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) native plant propagation, design, and orange coneflower (Rudbeckia and education for more than 20 fulgida var. umbrosa). Showy goldyears. He also is an advisor to enrod is 3 to 4 feet tall and strongly the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s upright so it a good perennial for Grow Native! program. the back of the flower border. Stiff
Photo by Scott Woodbury.
wind. It’s no wonder gardeners shy away from goldenrod. Another myth is perpetuated by gardeners: all goldenrods are weeds. This point is founded somewhat in truth as tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) is a pesky weed. But there are about two dozen species of goldenrods in Missouri, many of which are great garden plants and provide much-needed nectar for migrating monarch butterflies in late summer. Their foliage also feeds 115 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars according to Doug Tallamy and Kimberly Shropshire. For shade, gardeners have several species to choose from. Bluestemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia), zig-zag goldenrod (S. flexicaulis), rough-leaved goldenrod (S. rugosa), Buckley’s goldenrod (S. buckleyii), and Atlantic goldenrod (S. arguta). Zig-zag is a groundcover that spreads moderately by underground runners, so plant them in masses on about 14- to 18-inch
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September 2015 | kcgmag.com
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