Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) are among the best nectar sources for supporting late-season native bees and migrating butterflies like the Monarch, according to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
If you have a shady garden as I do, the choices within this genus are somewhat limited. But one of the Goldenrods that performs well in partial shade, and even in heavy shade, is Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis), also known by the nickname Broadleaf Goldenrod. It also tolerates sunny locations. It's a sweet little bloomer in addition to helping the pollinators.
Just as the Coneflowers, Joe Pyes, and other summer bloomers fade, Zigzag Goldenrod shares its bright, yellow flowers. My patch is blooming against a trellis, filling in an area where Foxglove was the focal point during the early summer.
Zigzag Goldenrod is native to most of Eastern North America, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It prefers moist, woodland soils, but when established will tolerate some drought. Other plant characteristics include:
- Height and spread: 1 ft. to 4 ft.;
- USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8;
- Propagates by self-seeding and rhizomes;
- Prefers medium moisture and soil, but tolerates a range of soils and precipitation; and
- Distinguished by zigzag stems and toothed, broad leaves.
On the day I took most of these photos the wind was strong, so the bees weren't landing much. But I did see quite a few insects on the plants--spiders, ants, and beetles of various types.
I think this is a Striped Cucumber Beetle--not a friend of the vegetable gardener. Fortunately, no veggies are located in this part of the garden, and the beetles didn't appear to be damaging the flowers. Maybe that's a good technique--plant the Goldenrod outside the vegetable garden to attract the beetles away from your edibles. Just a thought?
I also like the appearance when the flowers begin to fade--the seedheads are fluffy and attractive.
Zigzag Goldenrod has been in my garden for only a few years, but it's earned my admiration and respect for its beauty and functionality in the autumn landscape.
(I'm linking this post to Wildflower Wednesday.)