Kentucky State Flower - Goldenrod

Soldiago altissima is Kentucky's goldenrod choice.

Soldiago altissima is Kentucky's goldenrod choice.

The trumpet vine and the sturdy bluegrass were botanical contenders for Kentucky's top flower spot, but it was the colorful goldenrod that won the day. This tall, wand-like perennial herb belongs to the Asteraceae family, of which the sunflower is also a member. You'll find these bright specimens easily by taking a ride through the Kentucky countryside during summer and fall. The goldenrod is also the official flower of South Carolina and Nebraska.

Goldenrod in Kentucky

Kentuckians confirmed the goldenrod as their choice for state flower in 1926 after a challenge from the U.S. War Department. Government officials suggested that Kentucky choose the trumpet vine, since this flower was already in use by the state's militia and California had already laid claim to the goldenrod. The people of the state took their dissatisfaction to the polls, and the state legislature passed the measure officially on May 16 in 1926. In the 1940s and 1950s, other flower suggestions were put forward, like the redbud and the dogwood flower. The redbud received partial approval by the House but didn't pass the Senate, leaving the goldenrod as the state's flower emblem.

Flower Description

Solidago altissima, or giant goldenrod, can grow to 10 feet in height. The herbaceous plant dies in the winter but returns yearly, as long as soil conditions are favorable. The flat, thin leaves of the plant are medium green, but the leaves brown significantly in late fall. The tiny, yellow flowers grow symmetrically along a center spindle or stem. This plant is sometimes mistaken for ragweed, but unlike its allergy-inducing cousin, it's harmless.

Growing the Goldenrod

The goldenrod grows uncultivated in many areas of the state, but it can also be planted in home gardens. When growing from seed, allow the seed two to 10 weeks of germination time before planting. It's best to sow after the last spring freeze and before the first frost of winter. The goldenrod prefers sunny to partially sunny growing spots, and the seeds require only a light covering of healthy soil.

Caring for the Flowers

You can care for these flowers quite easily with a few simple tools. When growing single plants, use a wooden stake to support the heavy floral tops. Water these flowers when the soil is dry; an inch per week is ideal. Don't water plants when they've received natural precipitation. Cut back the flowers at the end of fall, trimming them down to a few inches above the ground.

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