The roadsides and pastures in Pontotoc County are about to be aglow with color.   This display will be provided by beautiful goldenrod flowers. 

Goldenrod is a native wildflower that provides late summer color, nectar for honeybees, and has potential to be a beautiful flower garden plant.  The source used for this article is the Mississippi State University Extension Service publication written by Dr. Gary Bachman entitled, “Goldenrod in Gardens Gives Great Fall Color”.

Late Summer Color

Goldenrod is a perennial plant that readily grows in areas including roadsides and abandoned fields. It begins blooming in September before the cool temperatures of fall finally arrive.  As the name suggests, the golden blooms provide great late season color as the oppressive summer heat takes its toll on most other flowering plants. 

There are several species of goldenrod that grow across most of the United States.  The most common species in Mississippi is European goldenrod.  European goldenrod grows to around four feet in height and has flowers that grow on arching branches near the top of the plant.

Beautiful Garden Addition

All flowering garden plants were wildflowers at one time.  This should open the door for gardeners to make room for goldenrod in their flower gardens.  

There are several goldenrod varieties that are better suited to flower gardens than the European goldenrod commonly found in Mississippi.  One highly recommended variety has been named Fireworks.  This variety grows to around four feet tall and wide.  Its branches arch from the top to the bottom of the plant.  These arching branches support blooms on the entire plant making it resemble the grand finale of a fireworks show.   

There are smaller varieties available if garden space is an issue. Prairie goldenrod is a recommended midsize variety.  Peter Pan and Golden Baby are smaller dwarf variety choices.  

Great for Bees

The middle and late part of summer can be tough on honey bees. This period is called the summer dearth by beekeepers due to the lack of flowering plants during this time of year. This scarcity of food naturally causes the numbers of bees in colonies to decline.   The arrival of the blooms from goldenrod provides much needed pollen and nectar allowing bee populations to rebound in preparation for the winter months.

Some mistakenly blame late season allergy problems on goldenrod due to its visual blooms. The real blame for late season hay fever is ragweed.  Ragweed produces a tremendous amount of wind-blown pollen causing serious issues for those with allergies.

Enjoy the beautiful display and appreciate all of the benefits that goldenrod provides.

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