Currently we don’t have any of the tall goldenrods in the garden, except for a few volunteer wildlings scattered in corners here and there. We do have a lot of Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), however.
Bluestem Goldenrod has a number of notable virtues lacking in the stereotypical Goldenrod. It’s fairly compact. It doesn’t spread by rhizomes, though it will self-sow. And it’s fairly shade tolerant.
Little clusters of four-petaled flowers line the stems, which, as the common name implies, are blue – see the picture above. The flowers make me think of little golden bridal bouquets.
Bluestem Goldenrod looks similar to the popular cultivar ‘Fireworks’ (S. rugosa). Differences are that ‘Fireworks’ does spread by rhizomes, is not really shade tolerant, and is less compact. And while ‘Fireworks’ is a nativar, Bluestem Goldenrod is straight species only – to my knowledge there are no varieties, though that may be just a matter of time.
As with other Goldenrods, this one is buzzing with pollinators once in bloom.
This plant’s habit varies a bit depending on who its companions are. Sometimes the stems are more prostrate, but they can also be fairly upright. The stems are generally arching to one degree or another.
Here it is relatively upright with Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba), Monarda ‘Purple Rooster’, and Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii).
In sum, if you want to grow Goldenrods but suffer from grandibotanophobia (fear of large plants) and have a moderately shady garden, Bluestem Goldenrod could be a good possibility.