Hello fellow readers,
A bad reputation is hard to turn around! Sandy from Sparta questioned a recommendation to add Solidago to her fall garden. The common name is Goldenrod after all and doesn’t it cause allergies? The real offender is Ragweed (Ambrosia ) which grows in the same cultural environment but is often unnoticed. Because Ragweed flowers are insignificant it’s easier to recognize them by their hairy sometimes purplish stems.
Both plants bloom from late summer to early fall, but Goldenrod produces masses of bright golden flowers loved by songbirds and other pollinators including butterflies. Ragweed on the other hand has small, un-showy greenish yellow flowers that release profuse amounts of pollen as it is pollinated by wind. Whereas Goldenrods produce far less pollen because they are both wind and insect-pollinated.
It turns out 75 percent of those allergic to pollen-producing plants are also allergic to Ragweed. Equally to blame is the silvery, chrysanthemum-looking plumy colonies of the invasive Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) also known as Common Wormwood (even the name sounds nasty). It’s just as high on the allergy charts as Ragweed and blooms at the same time.
With many Goldenrod cultivars and hybrids to choose from no garden should be without these deer resistant fall flowering butterfly attracters. A few of my favorites include; Solidago ‘Little Lemon’ growing 8-12″ tall – one of the cutest, most compact Goldenrod. Then there’s S.rugosa ‘Fireworks’ which grows to 3-4’ with graceful long arching golden sprays that are great in arrangements. S. sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ is about 18” high with semi-evergreen foliage that when planted in masses can form a groundcover that keeps weeds at bay.
So please enjoy Goldenrod as they are welcomed even in conservation restoration areas. It’s Mugwort and Ragweed that deserves the bad name. Achoo! Garden dilemmas? firstname.lastname@example.org