Salidago canadensis | Canada Goldenrod
Canada Goldenrod, also known as Canadian Goldenrod, Common Goldenrod, Meadow Goldenrod, and Tall Goldenrod, is an herbaceous perennial in the daisy family that is found in much of Canada and the US, except for the southernmost states. Some view it as a wildflower, while others only see it only as an invasive weed. Generally speaking, Canada Goldenrod plants are tall and slim with fluffy golden flower spikes, however due to its wide distribution, there are several varieties causing variation in the size, leaf and flower description.
Plants have a branching, cascading clusters of small yellow flowers that appear in late summer into fall. Goldenrod has a reputation as a weed because of its rapid growth rate and its ability to spread aggressively via underground rhizomes.
Grow Goldenrod in naturalized areas or meadows, in pollinator gardens or native gardens. It requires very little maintenance and can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions. Any maintenance that is need usually comes from trying to prevent the plants from spreading where you don’t want them. A simple solution is to grow your plants in pots or in a garden bed with barriers to contain the underground rhizomes. Cut off the spent flower heads if you want to stop them from dispersing seeds. Otherwise, you can leave the flower heads on to serve as food for wildlife.
Attracts a variety of pollinating insects, including butterflies, making it the perfect addition to a butterfly garden.
It is a common misconception that Goldenrod is responsible for folks allergies, but it’s not. Allergies are more likely to come from ragweed, which is unrelated.
If starting seeds indoors, Goldenrod seeds will require a 60 day period of cold-moist stratification before the seeds will germinate. Or if you plan on starting them outdoors you can sow the seeds in the fall and let nature take care of the stratification.
Cold stratification is a term for a procedure that can improve certain seed germination rates by 300-400%. Cold stratification is designed to mimic the winter season’s cold and moist weather that unlocks a seeds protective germination mechanisms and triggers the seed to sprout out of its dormant state. (Most perennial plant seeds (such as native wildflowers) require this combo of cold and damp to germinate.) In nature, this occurs naturally, but by doing the process yourself in a controlled environment, you keep the young seeds safe from any animals that might eat them and they’ll also be less likely to succumb to rot or mildew, leaving more seeds to grow.
There are many methods to cold-stratify seeds, but the two key factors are always moisture and cold. The best and easiest way is to put a small amount of moist/wet sand/soil in a zip baggie and store in the refrigerator for 2 months time (or more). Once stratified, surface sow the seeds (and sand) and gently press into the dirt. Germination will occur with heat humidity and light indoors, or if outdoor, once spring temps and sunlight are adequate. Be sure to plant stratified seeds within a day or so after removing them from the refrigerator because as soon as they warm up they will be ready to grow and may start to sprout.
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 2-4 ft
Mature width: 2-3 ft
Hardiness zones: 3-9