Toronto is home to over 360 species of bees!  Learn more about what you can do to help native bees and other pollinators.

Pollinators, especially bees, provide the important ecosystem service of pollination – which allows plants to produce seeds, fruits, and new plants. This is essential for food production and creating our natural landscapes. Pollinators also support other wildlife – for example, butterfly larva (caterpillars) are a critical source of food for birds.

Pollinators contribute to the biodiversity in our city and hold intrinsic value as wildlife species with unique natural histories.

Helping Pollinators is also a Climate Action! Pollinators support healthy and resilient ecosystems that clean the air; sequester carbon, which helps to reduce climate change; stabilize soils and absorbs storm water.

What is Pollination?

Pollination occurs when a pollen grain moves from the anther (male part) of a flower to the stigma (female part); this allows plants to reproduce. The majority of flowering plants need help with pollination, which means they need pollinators, like bees, to move pollen for them.

Who Are the Pollinators?

  • Bees
  • Butterflies
  • Birds
  • Moths
  • Flies
  • Beetles
  • Wasps

Bees are the most efficient pollinators – they visit flowers to drink nectar or feed on pollen and the hairs on their bodies transport pollen grains as they move from flower to flower. Toronto is home to a wide range of pollinators, including 364 species of bees and 112 species of butterflies.

Why Should We Be Concerned About Pollinators?

Pollinators are under increasing stress due to:

  • Habitat loss
  • Invasive species
  • Diseases
  • Pesticides
  • Climate change

Studies have shown that some species are in drastic decline, including the endangered Monarch butterfly and several species of bumblebees including the Rusty-patched bumblebee.

Climate Change & Pollinators

Pollinators are vulnerable to the negative consequences of climate change.

  • Bee populations are harmed by extreme weather events such as heat waves and storms
  • Temperature changes and warming weather can make it harder for some bees to be active at the right time
  • The warming climate is causing some ecological mismatches between when bees and flowers are out, resulting in less food for bees and fewer pollinators for the flowers
  • Increasing CO2 levels are resulting in less nutritious pollen
  • Invasive plants can spread to new areas with climate change, crowding out native plants, and reducing plant diversity and food for bees

Biodiversity & Climate Change

Biodiversity is a key component of helping ecosystems adapt to climate change. Healthy and diverse ecosystems will be more resilient to climate change. Abundant, well-connected and functioning habitat provides assurance for the future wellbeing of species and ecosystems. This is highlighted in the City’s Toronto Biodiversity Strategy.

Pollinator Habitat Creation is a Natural Climate Solution!

Native pollinator gardens…

  • sequester carbon (a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change) in the soil and large root systems of native plants;
  • absorb heat and cool down urban areas;
  • eliminate the need for mowing, saving you time and reducing emissions;
  • require less water than traditional lawns and are more resilient in times of drought;
  • reduce flood risk by absorbing storm water better than lawns;
  • support diverse populations of pollinators who will thrive under different changing conditions; and
  • create pathways that connect to larger natural areas and allow pollinators to move from area to area accessing the resources they need to survive.

Resources:

Did you know? The Rusty-patched bumblebee—one of the most common native bees in southern Ontario just 50 years ago—hasn’t been seen in the wild in Ontario since 2009.

You’ve heard about the pollinator crisis, about Colony Collapse Disorder, and that bees are in trouble — and you want to do something to help. Interest in backyard beekeeping is growing, but is it the right thing to do? Keeping honey bees doesn’t help to save wild bees, much like keeping backyard hens doesn’t save wild birds.

Native Bees vs. Honey Bees

Both native bees and honey bees are threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, diseases, pesticides, climate change and extreme weather. However, there are differences between native wild bees and European honey bees.

Differences Between Bees Native to Our Area and European Honey Bees
Native Bees Honey Bees
Native bees are the most specialized and efficient pollinators. It is through pollination that plants produce seeds, fruits, and new plants. Honey bees are a non-native species, introduced from Europe, used in agriculture to pollinate crops and managed, as livestock, by beekeepers to produce honey.
Some species of native bees are in drastic decline. Honey bees are dying in large numbers but they are not an endangered species.
When native bees disappear, they disappear forever. When a honey bee colony dies, more honey bees can be purchased and new colonies started.
More than 360 species exist in Toronto, over 600 in Ontario, and over 800 across Canada A single monoculture species, Apis mellifera, is commonly farmed in Canada
Once lost, they cannot be replaced When a colony dies, bees can be purchased to start a new colony
Wild Managed by humans
Some species are endangered Not endangered
Primarily solitary Social, live in colonies
Nest in the ground or in cavities Live in hives
Do not produce honey as they are dormant in winter Produce honey for overwintering
Wide range of colours, including green, blue, red and purple Black and yellow
Most species don’t sting Sting
Have evolutionary, dependent relationships with native plants Have no evolutionary, dependent relationships with native plants

Considerations for Backyard Bee Keeping or Managed Bees

  • Keeping European honey bees in your backyard does nothing to help native bees and may actually harm them.
  • Research suggests that honey bees may be a factor in the decline of some species of native bees; they can outcompete native bees for nectar and pollen, spread diseases and parasites, and negatively affect the reproductive health of native bees.
  • Backyard beekeeping is a highly specialized hobby that requires time, skill, careful attention, and mentorship. If not done properly, it can have negative—and even dire—consequences for Ontario’s beekeeping industry, small-scale hobbyists, and wild, native   bees.
  • The Ontario Bees Act requires all beekeepers to register their hives with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. It also requires all hives to be at least 30 metres from a property line, which prohibits most Toronto homeowners from keeping honey bees in their backyards.

If you thinking of buying managed bees, such as honey bees, here are some questions to ask yourself first from Pollination Guelph.

The easiest and most effective way to help native pollinators is to plant native plants. By planting native plants, you will be providing much-needed habitat that native bees need to survive. Native plants provide pollen and nectar which they need to feed themselves and their larvae, as well as places to nest and overwinter.

You can create pollinator habitat in your yard, on your balcony,  at your condo or apartment building, at your office, school, faith centre, community garden—everywhere!

An ideal pollinator garden will include the following:

  • Food sources – such as pollen and nectar from native flowers
  • Nesting and overwintering sites – such as bare soil, hollow stems, and leaves
  • Larval host plants – such as milkweed

Here are some tips to help you create a new pollinator garden or transform your existing garden to be more pollinator-friendly. The plants you choose and how you maintain your garden are important considerations.

Pollinator Habitat:

Pollinator habitat includes the following:

  • Food sources such as pollen and nectar from native plants.
  • Nesting and overwintering sites such as bare soil, hollow stems, and leaves.
  • Larval host plants such as milkweed for Monarchs.

Ideal pollinator habitat features native plants that are locally-grown and pesticide-free. Pollinator habitat can be created almost anywhere – in parks, yards, apartment buildings, schools, faith centres, community gardens and more.

Planting Tips:

  • Plant native: Choose native plants, trees and shrubs rich in pollen and nectar. Locally grown and pesticide free are best.
  • Plant host plants: Butterflies lay their eggs on specific plants. Monarch butterflies, for example, will only lay their eggs on milkweed, the sole food source for their larva.
  • Provide continuous bloom: Pollinators need a continuous source of pollen and nectar so select a variety of plants that will bloom from spring to fall.
  • Mass plantings: Planting multiples of the same plant together in large groupings makes it easier for pollinators to find and collect pollen.
  • Plant single bloom varieties: The petals of double or triple bloom varieties can block access to pollen and nectar.
  • Prevent the spread of invasive plants: Monitor your property for invasive plants and remove them when detected. The invasive dog-strangling vine has a negative impact on Monarchs – female butterflies mistakenly lay their eggs on it since it’s in the milkweed family, instead of native milkweeds, causing their larvae to starve.

Other Garden Elements:

  • Provide water: A birdbath or shallow dish of water with half submerged rocks will help bees and butterflies quench their thirst.
  • Provide sun: Butterflies like to bask in the sun, so place a few flat rocks in sunny, sheltered locations.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Limit mulch: Many native bees build nests in soil, so leave some bare patches of soil and limit your use of mulch.
  • Leave dead stems: Some bees hibernate and lay eggs in hollow stems. If you do cut, leave the bottom 8 inches in place and bundle the cut stems and place them in your garden. Bundles of sticks and stems that are put out for yard waste collection too early in spring will often contain overwintering bees. In the spring, wait until temperatures are consistently above 10o Celsius before cleaning up your garden.
  • Keep your dead wood: Large branches and decaying logs can be kept in a sunny spot to provide much-needed overwintering habitat for bees and other wildlife.
  • Leave the leaves: Leave the leaves where they fall or rake them into your garden to provide overwintering habitat for butterflies.
  • Avoid tilling: Keep large patches of land unmown and untilled to provide secure and undisturbed nesting sites for ground-nesting bees.
  • Minimize manicuring: A perfectly manicured lawn is a food desert for pollinators. Natural gardens and lawns offer the most benefits for pollinators in terms of food and nesting spots.
  • Reduce mowing: To avoid disturbing ground-nesting bees, mow your lawn less often and set the blade at the highest level possible.
  • Prune and deadhead: Remove dead flower heads to encourage new growth and a longer flowering season.
  • Avoid pesticides: Avoid plants/seeds treated with systemic insecticides, such as neonicotinoids. And don’t spray pesticides. Toronto’s Pesticide Bylaw bans the cosmetic use of pesticides.
  • Keep it natural: Converting a lawn or garden to concrete, gravel, mulch or artificial turf reduces valuable food and nesting sites.

Did you know that fallen leaves, dead stems and branches provide essential habitat for pollinating insects to overwinter?

Most native butterflies and moths do not migrate in the fall, but instead use the cover of leaves to overwinter until spring. Bumblebees also rely on leaves and dead stems for protection during the winter months. Some pollinators even camouflage as dead leaves.

To promote biodiversity, it is best in the fall season to LEAVE the LEAVES (and stems!). This means allowing fallen leaves, dead pithy stems and small branches to stand in your yard over the winter months, providing crucial habitat for pollinators to survive.

There are extra benefits to letting your yard stand, too! Fallen leaves help protect and add nutrients to your garden soil, insulate perennial plants from harsh winter weather, and can be used as mulch in your garden beds.

You also have options to leave the leaves in a way that works for you, depending on your yard care preferences.

You can…

1. Let all leaves, stems and natural material stand where they have fallen over the winter in your yard (best solution)

2. Move leaves away from high-traffic areas like pathways and patios and allow them to stand everywhere else (great solution)

3. Rake leaves into piles without shredding them, and situate the piles around trees and in garden beds to stay for the winter (good solution)

Leaving the leaves supports the key priority of the Pollinator Protection Strategy to create, enhance and protect pollinator habitat in natural and urbanized areas.

Help keep bees and butterflies from being thrown out in a yard waste bag this year by leaving the leaves!

More Resources:

Pollinator protection actions take many forms in our yards: planting native species, expanding garden space to reduce grass coverage, and intentionally creating spaces for pollinators to eat, drink, and rest. With a little research and effort, creating urban pollinator habitat can go a long way to promote species richness and diversity.

Yet, some of the most effective actions towards pollinator protection entail doing… well, nothing.

You may have seen “leave the leaves” campaigns through the fall, encouraging you to ditch the fall garden clean-up. Why? Allowing your garden to stand for the winter provides essential habitat for pollinating insects to overwinter. Native pollinator species in Toronto need plant litter to nest and survive the cold.

As spring arrives, many of us get anxious to get our gardens in shape for the growing season to come. But when those first warm days arrive before May, do not reach for your rake and shears.

Cleaning up your garden too early will harm nesting pollinators. Although it can be hard to wait, it is best to not partake in any garden clean-up for as long as possible in the spring. The earliest to start tidying is once the weather has consistently been above 10 degrees for at least a week.

In early spring, insects are still in diapause. This is a resting state like hibernation. The insects will not be moving and need to be left alone until it is warm enough to emerge on their own.

The following tips ensure a spring garden clean-up that preserves pollinator habitat while allowing you to prepare for the upcoming growing season.

Leave the Leaves (Again)

Hopefully your garden beds are covered in fall leaves. If there is less than an inch of leaf cover, do nothing. They will decompose over time and can fertilize and protect the garden soil and promote microorganism health. Do not underestimate how much new foliage will cover! By summer the leaves will be hardly visible. If there is a thicker layer of leaf cover on your beds, gently remove the extra before the new growth starts to emerge. Whenever disturbing leaf cover keep a close eye out for insects. Luna moths, for example, overwinter in cocoons that camouflage as dead leaves. Extra leaves can be added to compost, used as mulch, or simply moved to sit between plants (this method also suppresses weed growth and doesn’t block access to the bare soil for ground nesters).

Step Away From the Mulch

Some pollinator species hunker down for the winter right in the soil. Covering the soil with mulch is like pouring concrete over their homes – it may smother these insects and inhibit their spring emergence. Mulch in general is not necessary in a garden and should be used sparingly. If you would like to mulch, hold off until the weather has turned, and the soil has had a chance to dry out. Strategically mulch just around the base of plants, leaving plenty of bare patches for ground nesting bees.

Cut, Bundle and Tie Stems

Both adults and pupae of some pollinator species nest in dead, hollow plant stems. Once the weather is consistently above 10 degrees, you can begin trimming stems. We recommend cutting stems higher up. Leaving about 30cm of stem ensures overwintering sites for pollinator generations to come while still leaving you with a tidy-looking garden. Loosely bundle the cuttings together in groups of about a handful and leave them in your garden space by hanging the bundles or leaning them against something sturdy. This way, pollinators like bees and beneficial native wasps can emerge when the time and temperature is right.

Practice Pragmatic Pruning

If you have shrubs and woody perennials to prune, do so with a sharp eye and take your time. Many moth and butterfly species overwinter dangling from branches in cocoons, and flowering shrubs are an important first source of food for these species. If you spot a chrysalis or cocoon, leave it alone. You can always trim later.

More Resources:

Have you heard about No Mow May? Originally spearheaded in Europe, No Mow May is a campaign that promotes letting your lawn grow for the month of May to allow perennial plants and flowers to flourish, providing essential food and habitat for pollinators.

While No Mow May grows in popularity and geographic reach, reducing spring mowing is not a complete solution to the environmental stressors that are threatening pollinators in Toronto. No Mow May lacks recognition of some of the most crucial components of supporting pollinators and ecosystems. The most effective approach to nurturing declining populations of pollinators is to plant native plants, shrubs, and trees, and tidy up yard “waste” with intention.

Spontaneous plant species that pop up in turf grass are often non-native, or even invasive, which provide minimal support to wild pollinators. Plants native to Toronto provide the highest quality sources of food and shelter for wild bees, butterflies and moths. This is because wild pollinators in Toronto have co-evolved with native plant species – which do not include turf grass and dandelions.

May is an important time for pollinators looking for food, but so is earlier in the spring when some pollinators emerge from winter hibernation, and throughout the summer and fall when many pollinators are reproducing and preparing for hibernation. Pollinators need a continuous source of food from spring to fall. This requires us to go beyond the requirements of movements like No Mow May to ensure the survival of wild pollinators by landscaping in ways that strengthens biodiversity in the city.

Our tips on “Going Beyond” No Mow May:

  1. Protect pollinators all year. When choosing plants for your yard, consider bloom times – early spring and later in the fall are crucial times for pollinators to have access to blooming plants.
  2. Prioritize native plants, trees, and shrubs. Native plants support the diverse wild pollinators of Toronto, which are in decline. Check out our list of native plants trees and shrubs.
  3. Identify areas of your yard that do not need to be lawn space. A small section where grass is already sparse, or around the perimeter of your yard could serve as an urban pollinator haven. Do you usually only use the backyard turf grass for recreation? Your front yard could potentially be converted to a garden bed. The best advice is start anywhere, even if that means starting small.
  4. Indulge in low-maintenance gardening and lawn care. Native plants have evolved to thrive in Toronto’s climate without the need for excessive watering or fertilizers. You can plant low-growing native grasses and flowering plants like wild strawberry in your lawn for a low-maintenance way to diversify your yard. Set your mower to a longer length (around 4 inches) so these plants can thrive, and wait a little longer between mows. Most wild bees in Toronto nest in small cavities in the ground and dead stems, rather than in hives. Plan to have some bare soil patches, and leave dead, hollow stems for nesting habitat. With some extra time freed up, you can turn your attention to pulling out harmful invasive species like garlic mustard and dog strangling vine.

What are Native Plants?

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved, without human introduction. Toronto is located where the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region and the Carolinian Zone meet.

Native plants have co-evolved with native pollinators and have formed symbiotic relationships, depending on each other for survival. Plants from other parts of the world or plants that were cultivated by humans into forms that don’t naturally exist (for example cultivars and nativars) do not support pollinators as well as true native plants.

Benefits of Native Plants:

  • Food and shelter for wildlife
  • Low maintenance
  • Conserve water
  • Sequester carbon
  • Adapted to local conditions
  • Beautiful

List of Native Plants

Here are some native flowering plants organized by season to help you provide a continuous source of food for pollinators. We’ve also indicated growing conditions in sun or shade and whether it’s a larval host plant that supports butterflies and moths.

Native plant species vary in their light preferences. Select plants based on your site conditions:

  • Full sun – at least 6 hours of direct, late-morning/afternoon sun
  • Partial shade – 3 to 6 hours of morning or afternoon sun, but shaded from the hot, midday sun.
  • Full shade – less than 3 hours of sun

Spring

Common Name (Scientific Name) Likes sunny spots Likes sunny or shady spots Likes shady spots Larval host plant
False Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum) yes yes
Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) yes yes yes
Hairy beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus) yes yes
Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) yes yes

Summer

Common Name (Scientific Name) Likes sunny spots Likes sunny or shady spots Likes shady spots Larval host plant
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) yes yes
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) yes yes
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) yes
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) yes
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) yes
Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) yes yes
Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) yes
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) yes yes
Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) yes
Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) yes
Dense blazing star (Liatris spicata) yes
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) yes
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) yes
Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) yes yes
Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) yes
Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) yes yes
Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) yes
Lance-leaved coreopsis (C. lanceolata) yes
Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) yes yes
Pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) yes
Pearly everlasting (A. margaritacea) yes yes
Showy tick trefoil (D. canadense) yes yes
Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata) yes yes
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) yes yes
Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) yes
Virginia mountain mint (P. virginianum) yes
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) yes
Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) yes

Fall

Common Name (Scientific Name) Likes sunny spots Likes sunny or shady spots Likes shady spots Larval host plant
New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) yes
Stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida) yes
Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus) yes yes yes

Plants with Hollow or Pithy Stems:

Some cavity nesting bees use hollow or pithy stems to lay their eggs. Include some of these plants in your garden to provide nesting and overwintering habitat.

Hollow-Stemmed Plants:

  • Sunflowers
  • Cup Plant
  • Goldenrod
  • Echinacea
  • Spotted Joe Pye Weed
  • Swamp Milkweed
  • Wild Bergamot

Pithy-Stemmed Plants

  • Elderberry
  • Cup Plant
  • Raspberry
  • Sumac
  • Rose

Native Plant Information Sheets

The PollinateTO group at St Boniface School created a guide that profiles 32 native plant species with photos and details about site conditions, bloom time, pollinators supported and more.


Native Trees & Shrubs

Native trees and shrubs offer benefits to pollinators too. Here are a few to consider based on size and moist soil conditions (see rain garden species).

Large Species

Small to Medium Species

Rain Garden Species

More Native Tree Species Profiles

Looking for a great plant to support pollinators? Say hello to goldenrod!

A hardy native plant with many different species adapted to a wide range of growing conditions, there’s a goldenrod that’s right for every garden. And when you plant goldenrod in your yard, on your balcony or in a community garden, the birds, butterflies, bees and other pollinators will all benefit.

To set the record straight: goldenrod does not cause hay fever. Ragweed, in bloom at the same time, is the hay fever culprit. Goldenrod is insect-pollinated. It has heavy, sticky pollen that doesn’t fly on the wind, so adding goldenrod to your garden will not cause discomfort to hay fever sufferers.

The Goods on Goldenrod

  • There are more than 25 species of goldenrod native to Ontario.
  • Goldenrod supports more than 100 species of moths and butterflies in their larval stage.
  • More than 35 species of bees are specialist feeders on goldenrod pollen.
  • Goldenrod blooms in late summer into the fall, and its nectar is an important late-season food source for pollinators.

Goldenrods for Shade

These species grow naturally in forests and are great for shady garden areas.

  • Zig zag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis): Broad, dark green leaves with saw-toothed edges. Growth form is upright; stems have a bent, zig-zag pattern. Spreads by underground rhizomes and multiplies, though not aggressively. Delicately scented blooms are bright yellow in many small clusters where the leaves meet the stem. Grows well in large containers on a shady balcony.
  • Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia): Tolerates somewhat dry and sandy soils. Long stems arc outwards in a circle, with bright yellow flowers in clusters held close to the stem. Leaves are narrow with serrated edges; stems have a waxy coating that tinges them blue. As it matures, forms a large clump.

Goldenrods for Part-Sun

These adaptable species, from sun to part-sun, do well in the dappled conditions found under some types of trees.

  • Gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis): Extremely tough. Flourishing in gravelly soil, it’s a great container plant, too. Stems and leaves are covered in dense, velvety white hairs. Pyramid-shaped flower clusters arrayed at the end of stems.
  • Silverrod (Solidago bicolor): One of two goldenrod species in Ontario with white flowers instead of the usual yellow. (The other is Solidago ptarmicoides.) Growth form is upright, with large leaves at the base becoming smaller towards the middle. Flowers cluster tightly around the central stem of the leaf-less top half of the plant.

Goldenrods for Full Sun

These species are very drought-tolerant and thrive in open, sunny areas.

  • Grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia): Long, slender leaves and a flower cluster that is branched and “flat-topped,” rather than pyramid or rod-shaped; airy, elegant appearance. Can become “top heavy,” so grow it alongside other tall meadow plants for support.
  • Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea): Flower clusters look like tasselled golden pyramids. Long and thick, leathery green leaves form a cluster at the base of the plant, from which the tall stem emerges in summer. Usually the first goldenrod to bloom, often in early August.
  • Stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida): Excellent showpiece, with broad leaves and stout stems that are velvety with short white hairs. Clusters of dense and abundant yellow flowers. Thrives in hot, dry conditions. Grows to an impressive size.

Goldenrods for Sunny and Wet Areas / Rain Gardens

  • Ohio goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis): Thrives in moist areas—near a downspout or a low area, for example. Flower cluster is flat-topped, open and airy. Stems are upright and stout.
  • Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), and Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea): These three species are very similar in appearance, and are likely to volunteer in gardens, with seeds blowing in on the wind. All have three prominent veins on lower leaves, and tassel/pyramid-shaped flower clusters. Can be vigorous, and even aggressive (spreading by underground rhizomes), but can be managed by pulling up stems or growing in containers.

Did You Know?

  • Some species of goldenrod are rare in the wild. (Don’t dig up any plants from natural areas!)
  • Native goldenrods are exceptionally valuable for pollinators, providing nectar and pollen in late summer through fall. Goldenrod provides crucial fuel for migrating butterflies such as monarchs, and for queen bumblebees preparing for winter.
  • Goldenrods support a broad array of beneficial insects, and some of the relationships between goldenrod and insects have evolved to be specialized and dependent.
  • Many species of goldenrod grow tall. If you’d like to keep it shorter, try this trick: in late June or early July, cut the stems back by half. It will keep growing, becoming bushy, and will still flower in late summer, in a more compact form.
  • It is a myth that Goldenrod is too aggressive for the garden. In fact, three species of goldenrod–Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) and Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)–are highly successful spreaders in small gardens. In large gardens or tough spots where little else will grow, this is a very useful feature! In small gardens, consider planting some of the other beautiful goldenrods listed on this page.
  • You can grow goldenrod in a pot on your balcony or deck. Try these species in containers:
    • Silverrod (Solidago bicolor)
    • Gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)
    • Grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia)
    • Zig zag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
    • Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
    • Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
    • Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
    • Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea)

Download the Get to Know Goldenrod brochure which includes this information and photos of goldenrod species.

Text by Lorraine Johnson and Ryan Godfrey, Project Swallowtail

Wild about Bees: Pollinator Garden Resource List