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Connecticut Garden Journal: The Taming Of Goldenrod

Aug 24, 2017

This native wildflower is often overlooked as a garden plant. 

The yellow flower blooming now was once used medicinally -- and to make a wine -- by Native Americans and Europeans. The leaves were even used by colonists to make tea after they threw all the British tea overboard at the Boston Tea Party.

What common flower is this? It's goldenrod.

Before you poo-poo goldenrod as just a common roadside weed, let me tell you a little about this tough perennial.

First of all, it gets a bad rap as the cause of allergies in fall. Goldenrod doesn't cause allergies, but ragweed, a less conspicuous plant that blooms at the same time, does.

There are more than 100 species of wild goldenrod in our country and most of those spread vigorously, making them dangerous garden plants, but good wildflowers.

But there are tamer selections. The Germans loved our goldenrod so much they took some of the species and bred them to be more uniform and less aggressive in a garden.

Look for varieties, such as Fireworks, Baby Sun, and Goldkind in garden centers. While most goldenrod love full sun, there are some that grow as woodland plants in part shade such as Wreath and ZigZag goldenrod.

Although newer hybrids are less aggressive and have better flower form, they haven't lost their toughness. Goldenrod grows in just about any soil and returns reliably each spring.

They provide the garden or wildflower meadow with fall color, food for bees and butterflies, and attractive flowers for cutting and bringing indoors. Pair your goldenrod with asters, sedum, monkshood, and other fall bloomers for a beautiful garden display.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about popcorn. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.