Inside: Fall is a vital foraging season for insects that need to stock up for winter. Goldenrod is a great pollinator plant because it is hardy and loaded with both pollen and nectar.
Goldenrod is a plant that everyone knows, but no one can identify—or so it seems. All of the goldenrods belong to the genus Solidago, but they all look very different. The flowers, the leaves, and even the general silhouette of the plant can vary depending on where you live. The ones here on the west coast continue to baffle me.
But you can be sure of one thing: the bees love it. The one small patch of goldenrod I have is absolutely loaded with pollinators—mostly bumble bees, but also small native bees, flower flies, and butterflies. Sometimes, each inflorescence arches under the weight of five or six large bumbles scrambling over the flowers, packing everything they can hold. I never get tired of watching them.
The aster family is full of flowers bees love
Goldenrod belongs to the Asteraceae family, the very large plant family that includes dandelions and daisies, tansy and thistles, artichokes and sunflowers along with about 22,750 other species. Although most are herbaceous plants, some are shrubs, vines, and even trees.
About 100 species of goldenrod are native to North America. Since they flower late in the summer, they are an important source of both nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and some wasps. Nectar is most plentiful in years when there is abundant moisture before bloom time, and when bloom time remains warm and sunny. The honey is light to medium amber with a spicy taste.
Chose a variety that fits your garden
If you want to attract a variety of bees to your pollinator garden, goldenrod is a perfect choice. Use a tall species as a back border or a shorter species mixed in with Russian sage, purple Agastache, or blue asters. Goldenrod likes full sun but is not picky about the soil as long as it drains freely and does not remain wet.
Honey Bee Suite