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Golden Rod

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October 30, 2019

Many flowering plants are only one or two steps out of the ditch, and goldenrod is no exception today on Southern Gardening. 

Most folks can recognize goldenrod growing wild.  Usually we see the explosion of golden color late in the summer before the temperatures start to decrease in the fall. 

Typically we see Canada goldenrod, Solidago Canadensis. The tall plants reaching up to 4 feet.  But there has been a lot of evaluation and selection for more tame landscape varieties.  The mid sized varieties, like prairie goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis), can be used in the middle of the shrub border while the smallest are suitable for the front row. 

The flowers of goldenrod flow and arch from the top of the plants.  Perhaps the selection having the most outstanding flowering habit is ‘Fireworks’.  The flower clusters radiate out in all directions and resemble yellow sparks streaming from exploding fireworks. 

Goldenrod varieties tend to be unbranched and can look a bit top heavy especially when flowering.  You can encourage a denser and bushier plant by pruning halfway back in the late spring. 

Goldenrod makes great cutflowers for the vase and dry well for use in dried arrangements. 

Goldenrod is susceptible to rust, a fungal disease that attacks the stem and leaves, can be prevented with good air circulation. 

And in case you have allergies, goldenrod does not cause hayfever.  Goldenrod is pollinated by insects and does not produce much pollen.  The real culprit is ragweed.  Ragweed is wind pollinated and produces, as Carl Sagan would say, billions and billions of pollen grains.  Both flower at the same time, but goldenrod with its showy flowers gets the blame. 

I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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