Colorado Native Plants: Growing Goldenrod in Pots

By Idelle, January 7, 2022

I love the Goldenrod growing in our Denver backyard, it’s covered with bees every summer! Some of it somehow found a way into one of my large patio pots, and I let it grow and the plants got nearly 5-6′ tall in just one summer and was gorgeous! I never thought about growing Goldenrod in a container, but it was fabulous. These Goldenrod volunteers grew alongside my tomatillos, which are the usual container residents. They both did well together. I’m sure the Goldenrod will come back next year in the pots.

Above are a couple pictures I took of a happy bumblebee and other pollinators enjoying the blooms from this past summer. I’m not sure the exact variety, it has always been growing in the shade of our Apple tree in our backyard – it takes over the entire corner garden bed. It gets quite tall and becomes a forest every summer, I love it!

I think it may be Solidago canadensis which may or may not be a true native to Denver, I’ve read it’s native range is in Mexico, the Eastern and Southern parts of the US and Canada, but it certainly seems to thrive here in both sun and part shade!

It does spread, but I don’t mind, because it’s such a pollinator magnet, and it’s easy to dig up rhizomes to share with other gardeners. I transplanted some rhizomes to our Community Garden pollinator garden last year, it also took off.

Here is our volunteer goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis?) that appeared in our patio pot this summer. Who would have thought it would do so well in a pot? I always let the tomatillos come back every year in the pots (I leave a few tomatillos and they volunteer each spring), and this year the Goldenrod and Agastache volunteered and appeared. Both a nice surprise!

See them in full bloom below:

Below is the Goldenrod “patch” in our backyard, growing happily in the part shade of an old Apple Tree. This is in the summer before they start to bloom. They bloom in August/September and it’s quite a show! I trim the front couple rows to keep them shorter so they don’t get so floppy at the end of the summer.

We also have a large expanding patch of Black Eyed Susans, which are also lovely in the late summer. Here’s a praying mantis posing with the Black Eyed Susans:

Growing native plants that thrive here is a great way to support wildlife and diversity in your own backyard. Ever since I read the fabulous book by Doug Tallamy, Nature’s Best Hope, I’ve been fascinated by growing more native plants in our landscape. I plant new native plant seeds each year, and they are easy to start from seed.

Free Native Plants & Seeds:
You don’t need to spend money to start planting natives! Seeds are inexpensive and you can also get free seeds! Native plant seeds are harder to find at nurseries (they’re starting to add more due to the demand, so ask if they have any native plant seeds next time you stop in!) But if you want to start growing native plants on a budget, check out Colorado Native Plant Society, Wild Ones, or People and Pollinators for their free native seed swaps and free native plant swaps each summer. You don’t even need to bring anything to swap, you’ll find that native plant gardeners are generous with the abundance of their native plant seeds so if you come empty-handed, no problem! I went to the native seed swap in Denver this past fall and it was amazing, there were 100s of native seeds – all free to adopt– a seed hoarder’s delight. 😉 I donated some seeds I had collected, and showed restraint and took just a few varieties that I’m starting now using the Winter Sowing method of starting seeds outside in old milk jugs.

As we plant more native plants, every year we see more bumblebees, native bees, butterflies and birds as the garden grows! You truly can create a “homegrown national park” just by planting native plants in your landscape!