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Genus Solidago (Goldenrod)

Solidago Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
sol-ih-DAY-go Common Name: Goldenrod
Most Solidago species hail from the prairies, roadsides, open woods, and riverbanks of North America. Many species are somewhat coarse looking and invasive, and therefore are more suitable to wild areas, where they can thrive en masse. Cultivated varieties are noted for their showier flowers, distinct habits, and less vigorous nature. Most exhibit numerous, small flowers along upward facing racemes or spikey racemes, and stiff, branching stems. The genus name stems from the Latin solido, which means "to make whole," and refers to the medicinal properties of the genus. It is often held falsely responsible for hayfever, for which Ambrosia species are the main allergen.
Noteworthy characteristics: Solidago reliably provides end of season color in blazing shades of yellow to the wild garden or naturalistic plantings
Care: Grow in lean to moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun; some species prefer shade. Deadhead to prevent prolific self-seeding.
Propagation: Divide in spring or fall.
Problems: Spot anthracnose, powdery mildew, rust, fungal spots.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Solidago

no image available Solidago caesia
(Goldenrod, Wreath goldenrod, Blue-stemmed goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

In early autumn, this species produces elegant, wand-shaped flowerheads atop wiry stems with blue-green, linear leaves. It is found in open woods and along woodland edges, and prefers some shade. It responds well to rich soil, but can tolerate dry soil also. 

Solidago cutleri 'Goldrush' Solidago cutleri 'Goldrush'
(Goldenrod, Alpine goldenrod, Cutler's alpine goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Goldrush' heralds the coming of fall with masses of tiny, yellow flowers for four weeks in August and September. Its compact size—about a foot tall—makes it a great candidate for a rock garden or border edge.

Solidago flexicaulis Solidago flexicaulis
(Goldenrod, Zigzag goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This species is aptly named for its distinctive crooked stems that bend back and forth at 45° angles between nodes. It bears starry, medium-yellow flowers atop 1- to 3-foot tall stems. 

Solidago juncea Solidago juncea
(Goldenrod, Early goldenrod, Yellow top)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This is the first goldenrod to bloom, featuring bright yellow, plume-like panicles in midsummer. It has dark green leaves along reddish stems, which form a vase-shaped clump when mature. 

Solidago nemoralis Solidago nemoralis
(Goldenrod, Gray goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This is one of the smallest species of goldenrod, topping out at only 4 to 6 inches high in poor soils, and 2 feet high in fertile soils. It is considered a garden-worthy species, with gray-green leaves that form clumps and languid, one-sided yellow plumes. It is tolerant of both sandy and clay soils.

Solidago rigida Solidago rigida
(Goldenrod, Stiff goldenrod)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This lovely goldenrod has velvety leaves that are gray-green in summer and dusky rose in autumn. It has broad, flattened clusters of rich yellow flowers, which create a striking display on stems 2 to 5 feet tall.

no image available Solidago rugosa
(Goldenrod, Rough-stemmed goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This species has open, tree-shaped flower clusters that radiate out like a fountain. It has given rise to S. rugosa 'Fireworks'.  It can grow to 7 feet tall and blooms in mid- to late autumn.  

Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
(Goldenrod, Rough-stemmed goldenrod)
(30 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This eye-catching cultivar has flower clusters that radiate out in all directions and resemble streaming yellow fireworks. Its form is truly unique and enchanting. It reliably provides end-of-season color in blazing shades of yellow. It grows to 5 feet tall and provides good structure in the garden all year.

no image available Solidago speciosa
(Goldenrod, Showy goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This garden-worthy species has dramatic, bright yellow flowers that are arranged into erect, pointed clusters. It has deep reddish stems that grow to 3 feet tall. It blooms in late summer and early autumn.

Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece' Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece'
(Goldenrod, Creeping goldenrod)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This outstanding cultivar forms a neat, 1-foot tall groundcover. It has dense, branched panicles that splay upward and outward whimsically, resembling a mass of elegantly bunched bouquets.