Favorite October plant – goldenrod

As the landscape is preparing for its annual striptease, we’re struck by the Vegas-worthy displays clamoring for our attention. Chief among them, are the vibrant plumes of yellow panicles bursting from goldenrods (Solidago) like an exploding sun. This much maligned native plant, either dismissed as an unloved roadside weed or falsely blamed for hayfever (the real culprit is ragweed), boasts more than 100 varieties that bring showstopping beauty to your autumn garden and complement the colors of asters, sedum, butterfly bush, and joe-pye weed. Planted as a nectar-source for butterflies and bees, as a historical medicinal plant for herb fanciers, or as a dye-source for fiber artists, the blooms of this carefree perennial also make beautiful dried flower arrangements. To keep the plant from overwhelming your garden, look for smaller, clumping varieties, like the dwarf cultivar “Golden Fleece” which only grows to 18 inches, or the three-foot-tall favorite “Fireworks” with its lacy, radiating bloom spikes. The Chicago Botanic Garden spent five years evaluating the plant and you can read the trial results on its website: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/pp/goldenrod.php

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