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The best goldenrods for your garden

By: Susan Martin
Goldenrod is a beautiful native perennial. Some species can be invasive, but we've compiled 9 of the best goldenrods for your garden. They won’t take over!

If there’s one quintessential perennial for fall color, it’s goldenrod. What other plant can create such exuberant masses of golden yellow blooms to echo the changing fall foliage? When you take a relaxing drive through the country to enjoy the autumn show, keep an eye out for goldenrod. Every state has at least one native species, so you’re bound to spot it growing in fields or along the roadside. Scroll on to learn more about this plant, and then check out some of the best goldenrods for your garden.

See also Flowers & Plants

Though each species is unique, a few characteristics are common to all goldenrods. You’ll surely recognize their distinctive yellow flowers in late summer and fall. They are a valuable late-season food source for an abundance of pollinators and insects. (Want to bring in more butterflies? Check out our garden plan that includes goldenrod!) In turn, hungry birds and praying mantises enjoy the insects that host or feed on the plant.

Goldenrod has gotten a bad rap by some who blame it for making them sneeze. But its pollen is heavy and sticky and is transferred by insects rather than on the wind. The more likely culprit is ragweed, which blooms at the same time and often grows near goldenrod. Allergy sufferers can freely plant this flowery perennial without a worry.

Only the best goldenrods for your garden

Of the 77 species that are native to the United States and Canada, some are aggressive spreaders. Meet some of the best goldenrods for gardens — they won’t attempt a coup in your landscape.

Golden Baby (‘Goldkind’) goldenrod Solidago hybrid

Strong stems carry dense, astilbe-like plumes for several months beginning in midsummer. Not for dry spaces, this clump-forming type grows best in wetter soils.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from midsummer to fall Light Full sun Soil Moist to wet Size 18 to 28 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in  AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Native to dry, open woodlands, this is a well-behaved clump-former. Its licorice-scented foliage is used to flavor drinks and medicines.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow plumes from late summer through early fall Light Full sun to part shade Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 2 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 10 to 1 Source Gardens of the Blue Ridge

‘Wichita Mountains’ golden fleece flower (Solidago spp.)

Golden torch-shaped flower spikes top this extremely heat- and drought-tolerant variety.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from late summer to fall Light Full sun Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 24 to 36 in. tall, 24 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source High Country Gardens

Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Unlike many goldenrods, blue-stemmed goldenrod grows best in part shade but tolerates full sun. It’s not aggressive, so it plays well with others in the middle of the border.

Type Perennial Blooms Yellow blooms on arching stems late summer to fall Light Part shade to full sun Soil Sand or clay with dry to average moisture Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

Stiff goldenrod

Stiff goldenrod is a tough plant that grows in the most inhospitable soils, from moist clay to dry sand.

Type Perennial Blooms Huge, flat-topped yellow panicles in late summer Light Full sun Soil Moist clay to dry sand Size 3 to 5 ft. tall Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Later blooming than some, this species of goldenrod is an important fall nectar source for butterflies and bees. Its spike-shaped flowers can grow up to a foot long.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from late summer through early fall Light Full sun Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Moon Nursery

Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

This ground cover-type goldenrod is fun to use in cut flower bouquets. Its bright yellow flowers are clustered up the stems in a zigzag pattern.

Type Perennial Blooms Bright yellow flowers from late summer through early fall Light Best in shade but tolerates sun Soil Average to moist, well-drained Size 2 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant: AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

When you see its arching sprays of glowing yellow flowers in late summer, you’ll know exactly how ‘Fireworks’ got its name.

Type Perennial Blooms Arching sprays of glowing yellow flowers in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source Bluestone Perennials

Dwarf goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’)

‘Golden Fleece’ is one of the shortest goldenrods. Its heart-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves form a low mound so until it blooms, the foliage acts like a short ground cover.

Type Perennial Blooms  Bright yellow sprays of flowers late summer to fall Light Full sun Soil Average, well-drained Size 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source High Country Gardens

Golden Baby (‘Goldkind’) goldenrod Solidago hybrid

Strong stems carry dense, astilbe-like plumes for several months beginning in midsummer. Not for dry spaces, this clump-forming type grows best in wetter soils.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from midsummer to fall Light Full sun Soil Moist to wet Size 18 to 28 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in  AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Later blooming than some, this species of goldenrod is an important fall nectar source for butterflies and bees. Its spike-shaped flowers can grow up to a foot long.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from late summer through early fall Light Full sun Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Moon Nursery

Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Native to dry, open woodlands, this is a well-behaved clump-former. Its licorice-scented foliage is used to flavor drinks and medicines.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow plumes from late summer through early fall Light Full sun to part shade Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 2 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 10, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 10 to 1 Source Gardens of the Blue Ridge

Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

This ground cover-type goldenrod is fun to use in cut flower bouquets. Its bright yellow flowers are clustered up the stems in a zigzag pattern.

Type Perennial Blooms Bright yellow flowers from late summer through early fall Light Best in shade but tolerates sun Soil Average to moist, well-drained Size 2 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, heat-tolerant: AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

‘Wichita Mountains’ golden fleece flower (Solidago spp.)

Golden torch-shaped flower spikes top this extremely heat- and drought-tolerant variety.

Type Perennial Blooms Golden yellow flowers from late summer to fall Light Full sun Soil Dry to average, well-drained Size 24 to 36 in. tall, 24 to 30 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source High Country Gardens

‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)

When you see its arching sprays of glowing yellow flowers in late summer, you’ll know exactly how ‘Fireworks’ got its name.

Type Perennial Blooms Arching sprays of glowing yellow flowers in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source Bluestone Perennials

Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Unlike many goldenrods, blue-stemmed goldenrod grows best in part shade but tolerates full sun. It’s not aggressive, so it plays well with others in the middle of the border.

Type Perennial Blooms Yellow blooms on arching stems late summer to fall Light Part shade to full sun Soil Sand or clay with dry to average moisture Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 8 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

Dwarf goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’)

‘Golden Fleece’ is one of the shortest goldenrods. Its heart-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves form a low mound so until it blooms, the foliage acts like a short ground cover.

Type Perennial Blooms  Bright yellow sprays of flowers late summer to fall Light Full sun Soil Average, well-drained Size 1 to 2 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source High Country Gardens

Stiff goldenrod

Stiff goldenrod is a tough plant that grows in the most inhospitable soils, from moist clay to dry sand.

Type Perennial Blooms Huge, flat-topped yellow panicles in late summer Light Full sun Soil Moist clay to dry sand Size 3 to 5 ft. tall Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, heat-tolerant in AHS zones 9 to 1 Source Prairie Nursery

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