Zigzag Goldenrod, a Lovable Thug
If you have a shady garden but would like to grow an ornamental goldenrod, do not despair. Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) is quite happy in shade, though I think it likes part shade best. Actually, I suspect that Zigzag Goldenrod would be happy growing in concrete under a quonset hut.
As the Missouri Botanic Garden website puts it diplomatically, this plant “may spread by rhizomes.” Which is like saying that a tropical storm may get windy.
To speak plainly, Zigzag Goldenrod is a thug. But it’s a lovable thug, like Nathan Detroit from Guys and Dolls.
In addition to being at home in shade, Zigzag Goldenrod is a plant that takes care of itself, tolerating dry conditions once established. It’s also a fairly compact, rarely growing taller than 3′. Doesn’t mind clay soil, either.
The small yellow flowers are attractive and appear in clusters along the stem. Sometimes the stems do zigzag, but sometimes they don’t.
According to the Xerces Society, Zigzag Goldenrod is of special value to native bees and honeybees.
The only thing is, this is one of those plants that does best for the gardener in the wilder parts of the shade garden. You don’t want it running rampant amongst your dainty beauties.
This post is my contribution to the meme “Wildflower Wednesday”, hosted by Gail of Clay and Limestone on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Pay a visit to see some more wildflowers.
Do you grow Zigzag Goldenrod?
Not the worst plant to have show up in your garden….. which I’m sure it will do given the track record goldenrods have for inviting themselves in here!
I have a tall goldenrod that infiltrated my garden, not sure the species. I kind of like it, and it’s not too much trouble.
It looks pretty, but I don´t think I will introduce it in my own garden.
Probably not a good fit for every garden.
A plant that flowers well in shade can never really be considered a thug – it’s what everyone says they’re searching for!
I don’t know, there are quite a few plants that flower in shade, though mostly in Spring.
Do you know the shrub Fatsia japonica. That flowers late autumn?
I’v heard the name but wouldn’t know it if I saw it.
I don’t have this one, but I do have a couple other shade goldenrods, solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod) and s. bicolor (silverrod). Neither of them seems to be rhizomatous, though they do seed like mad. But I love them both, and so do the bumblebees.
I also grow Solidago caesia, it’s beautiful and will grow in sun or shade. You’re right about the self-seeding, though.
Looks attractive. I don’t have any goldenrod nor much shade. Do you use Missouri Botanic Garden website often? I find it a very handy resource.
Yes, I use the MBG website all the time, as well as wildflower.org and the Chicago Botanic Garden site.
Ha! I have this thug and though it is only my first year with him I have enjoyed these little blooms and his hardiness in my part-shade area in my side garden! Glad you wrote up some good things about him as I have been a bit nervous about his thugness! Nicole
You need to surround him with tough competitors!
The flowers seem kind of delicate compared to some of the goldenrods that grow around here. I like it a lot.
It does appear delicate, but the appearance is deceptive.
What a delicate little flower, great that it grows in the shade..the bright yellow would be a treat for us and the pollinators.
Exactly! Yellow is a good color in shade.
We have goldenrod on the borders of the property but not in the beds. Yours look lovely. 🙂
Excellent! I’ve been wondering what to plant in concrete under my quanset hut.
They’re very challenging, aren’t they?
What a versatile plant, anything that grows in shade is a bonus!xxx
Yup, plants that grow well in shade are worth some attention.
Thanks for the info, Jason. I planted two Zigzags this summer. They struggled. Some type of animal chewed on them. That surprised me. I hope they’ll come back next year because I think they’d be a great addition to my shade garden. They certainly are lovely and beneficial.
I’d be surprised if they didn’t bounce back.
I haven’t come across this plant . Very pretty. Anything which grows well in the shade is a bonus.
You usually only find it with retailers who specialize in native Midwest plants.
I’ve searched and searched for this plant in the forests here and have never found it. Plenty of blue stem though.
I don’t know why it would be so rare – NH is definitely in its native range.
I have solidago caesia, which is less thugish but I should probably make room for this guy, too. Any plant, short of poison ivy or kudzu, that grows well in dry shade is a winner for me.
Have you tried big leaf aster, celandine poppy, or corydalis? Those have done well for me in dry shade also.
That variety has a very dainty little flower. I should imagine it would come in very handy for a shady corner.
It does indeed.
Here in my SE Nebraska garden, I grow it in several places, and while it does spread some, it is not thuggish.
Maybe it runs more where there is more shade.
I also have Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) and like it very much. It will grow in high pH soils, heavy clay and other inhospitable places. Yes, it seeds, but I find it charming not annoying, as it tends to fill in crevices and other open spaces. It does not have an “ugly season” as many plants do after they bloom.
Yes, S. caesia is definitely a wonderful goldenrod, compact and shade-tolerant. I grow quite a bit of it. It is probably a better fit in most gardens than S. flexicaulis.
I have many different goldenrod but I am not sure if I have this one. I will have to check next year.