Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to wet
Flowering period: June
Host plant for 4 caterpillar species
A net of delicate yellow blossoms lies upon the meadow when the golden Alexanders are in bloom. Early-foraging bees fly happily into the sheer layer of small, bright flowers, then return to their nests, having gathered the pollen that will feed their young. During their flower visitation, the bees perform a crucial service to the plants, transferring pollen from bloom to bloom and thus enabling seed production. Spring mining bees especially favor golden Alexanders and will readily build their subterranean nests in a garden or lawn if they can find a patch of bare soil to work with. Leaving a small space of bare ground in one’s landscaping is a great way to aid the nesting of these and other bees. Numerous other pollinators, including hover flies, bumble bees, and butterflies value golden Alexanders due to their early bloom period and easily accessed pollen and nectar. The plant is also highly recommended as a companion plant to vegetable gardens owing to its ability to boost populations of beneficial predatory insects like wasps and lady beetles.
A native of NE Ohio meadows, woodland edges, and open-canopied streamside forests, golden Alexanders grows well under both full sun and partial shade, and within soils of moderately wet to average moisture. This versatile plant is oftentimes the first flower to appear in the garden in the springtime, especially in sunny situations. At 2-3 feet tall, golden Alexanders works well in a variety of contexts, and is a lovely complement to smooth penstemon, Ohio spiderwort, and baptisia species, which also bloom early in the growing season. Though not an aggressive plant, golden Alexanders may re-seed under ideal growing conditions, especially onto bare soil adjacent to the mature plant. Any unwanted seedlings may be pulled in the springtime.
Photo by Ashley Keesling.