Goldenrod is Nothing to Sneeze At

Goldenrod flower in bloom in fall

A particularly full flowering goldenrod in full bloom in September.

Goldenrod gets a bad rap. People sometimes confuse it with Ragweed, and even call it by that name, but ragweed is a different plant entirely. Ragweed is the one that affects allergy sufferers badly. It a much less showy green plant with long flowering spikes. Search ragweed on Google and you will see images of ragweed and goldenrod in the results. Don’t be fooled!

Goldenrod, which grows wild all over Ontario, is a plant looked on by many visitors from garden-positive England as quite lovely. They know it by its Latin name, Solidago. I remember a visiting auntbeing quite in raptures when she saw the masses of what she called Solidago blooming in profusion in local fields.

If it’s found its way into your garden—it often does—don’t think of it as a weed but consider leaving a stand of it in with your cultivated perennials, as it is well-loved by bee pollinators who gravitate towards it hungrily in September. We need pollinator plants in the city all season, and this one serves the bees and butterflies very well in the fall. It does spread quite easily by seed, so to keep it in one place, cut the seed heads off once they turn brown.

The other thing I noticed this season is that Goldenrod has a rather subtle but sweet scent. Another plus. There are cultivated, other varieties of Goldenrod Solidago in garden centres as well as the species plant pictured above. Make space for this sometimes maligned beauty in your garden and you won’t regret it.

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