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.

Solidago flexicaulis, Zigzag Goldenrod
Solidago flexicaulis, Zigzag Goldenrod

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.

Zigzag Goldenrod
Zigzag Goldenrod

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?

39 Comments on “Zigzag Goldenrod, a Lovable Thug

  1. 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!

  2. A plant that flowers well in shade can never really be considered a thug – it’s what everyone says they’re searching for!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. The flowers seem kind of delicate compared to some of the goldenrods that grow around here. I like it a lot.

  7. What a delicate little flower, great that it grows in the shade..the bright yellow would be a treat for us and the pollinators.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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