By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Flat top goldenrod plants are variously identified as Solidago or Euthamia graminifolia. In common language, they are also called grass-leaf or lance leaf goldenrod. It is a common wild plant in parts of North America and can be considered a nuisance in a few regions. While the plant itself is not particularly spectacular, the pretty flattened clusters of golden yellow flowers that bloom all summer are a treat.2>
On a nature hike in many eastern states, you might come across this native goldenrod. What is flat top goldenrod? It is a tall, sprawling, fall-over-itself mess of a plant with beautiful flowers. Growing grass leaved goldenrod can help tempt pollinators to your landscape. Several bees and butterflies are drawn to the lovely flowers and their nectar. Combined with other native wildflowers, flat top goldenrod plants will pack a powerful golden punch.
Flat topped goldenrod can become invasive due to its deep taproots. It is an upright, branched perennial that grows 1 to 4 feet (.31-1.2 m.) tall. The top of the plant is bushy due to the sub-branching of numerous stems and the slender leaves. The leaves have no petioles and taper to a point, narrowing towards the stem. Leaves have a strong scent when crushed.
Each bright yellow flat-topped flower cluster contains 20-35 tiny starry flowers. The outer flowers bloom first with a slow inward wave of opening. For those wondering how to grow flat top goldenrod, it is propagated through seed or division of the root ball and rhizome material.
Whether started by seed, vegetative material or purchased mature plant, this goldenrod establishes easily. Choose a location in full sun with moist but well-draining soil. The plant is usually found growing wild in wetlands but can tolerate slightly drier sites.
Take rhizome divisions when the plant is dormant and plant immediately. Seed germination may benefit from stratification and can be planted in fall in a cold frame or directly into soil in spring when soil temperatures warm.
This is an easy plant to grow but can be a bit of trouble to manage. It is recommended to remove flowers before they seed or erect a native plant barrier to prevent the spread of seed.
Keep plants moderately moist, especially in summer. In addition to pollinators, the flowers attract two species of beetle. The goldenrod soldier beetle produces larvae that are beneficial partners, feeding on the likes of maggots, aphids and some caterpillars. The other beetle that likes to hang out with this goldenrod is the black blister beetle. Its name comes from the poisonous substance cantharidin, which can harm animals that eat the plant.
For best appearance, cut back plants at the end of the season to 6 inches (15 cm.) from the ground. This will produce thicker, more lush plants and more of the blooming stems.
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Read more about Goldenrod
The appearance of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) flowers usher out the long days of summer and take us into cooler fall weather. Wild goldenrods are mostly native to North America, growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2a through 8a. A number of cultivars resulted from selecting or hybridizing different species, with most varieties smaller and more compact than the parents. Golden plumy flowers make a showy display. You can control how bushy the plants are, how tall they will grow, and the time of blooming by selective pruning.
It’s not necessary to prune goldenrod, but if you do, cut back old growth in late winter.
I should make clear before we go any further that there are many species of goldenrod. I’ve found three growing in my beds, and all three have a reputation for being “aggressively weedy.”
This goldenrod is most prevalent in our area. September 2008
Arrows point to rough-stemmed goldenrod. It has the widest leaves of the common ones. September 2008 (click on image to enlarge)
The very thin leaves give rise to the name grass-leaved goldenrod September 2008
Fireworks are plentiful this time of year, but not only in the night sky. Many sparklers, firecrackers, and other aptly named plants are available to add sizzle, pop, snap, and crackle to your garden.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 4, 2011. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
|Impatiens 'Sparkler Rose' - a colorful double impatiens that adds sparkle to any garden. Roselike flowers bloom reliably throughout the spring and summer in shady gardens. Look for butterflies and hummingbirds among these colorful blossoms. The 'Sparkler' impatiens are part of the Fiesta series and are available in a wide range of vivid colors that are perfect for lighting up shady landscapes, baskets, and patio planters. (Impatiens walleriana, annual)|