When it comes to sprawling ground cover plants, the choices are endless, and Chrysogonum virginianum, or green and gold, is a gorgeous choice. Due to its dainty, star-shaped yellow flowers with spooned leaves, it makes for a sense and beautiful ground cover.
Native plants to the eastern United States, from New York to Florida and Louisiana, this perennial evergreen ground cover is great forage for native birds. Its green berries are snatched up in bird beaks and spread around. Its bright yellow flowers are a delight in native plant gardens and woodland gardens from spring through fall.
Without further ado, let’s learn how to care for this incredible lawn alternative!
Quick Care Guide
|Scientific Name||Chrysogonum virginianum|
|Common Name(s)||Green and gold, golden star plant, golden knee, dwarf crested iris|
|Height and Spread||6-12″ tall, 8-18″ wide|
|Light||Full to part shade; sun dappled part shade|
|Water||Medium to wet|
|Soil||Moist, organically rich soils; well drained soils required|
|Fertilizer||None to slow-release organic granule|
|Pests and Diseases||Root rot, powdery mildew, downy mildew, snails, slugs|
All About Chrysogonum Virginiaum
Scientifically known as Chrysogonum virginiaum, with “Chrys” meaning “gold” and “gon” meaning “offspring.” It’s named after the kind of flowers that it produces during its blooming time. Belonging to the Asteraceae family, it’s a perennial herb with hairy leaves and clusters of gorgeous and bright yellow flowers that grow from leaf axils.
For Zones 4 to 9, this creeping native perennial offers low mats of yellowish daisy-like flowers from late spring to fall. The leaves are small and green, a great contrast to the flower. It’s easy to propagate in spring and a quick spreader. It likes rich, loamy, moist soil in partial shade to full sun — more shade if planted in southern areas.
Also known as the golden star plant, is native to the eastern United States. Its native habitat occurs from New York State, to Rhode Island, and down to Florida and Louisiana. Therefore, it’s an excellent addition to native plant gardens, woodland gardens, woodland paths, and shade gardens. They can sometimes grow nicely in rock gardens too!
Before we get into how to care for Chrysogonum virginianum, also known as dwarf crested iris, let’s look at the different varieties available.
Chrysogonum Virginiaum Varieties
There are three main varieties of this plant with yellow petals, categorized by where they originated. While all form a foliage mat, some are bushy, and others have a more distinct best ground cover appearance.
Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe
Commonly found in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, this variety is an ideal option for those looking for low maintenance plants. They bear yellow disk flowers as flowering stems rise from leaf axils in early spring with a low-growing mat of dark green leaves.
This variety is commonly referred to as green and gold. What makes var. australe different from the other varieties of the green and gold plant are its shorter flower stem and more rapid expansion of roots.
Chrysogonum virginianum var. brevistolon:
Also known as golden star plant, Chrysogonum virginianum var. brevistolon of the green and gold groundcover is a low-growing perennial. It is ideal for woodland path and rock gardens. You can pair them up with Virginia bluebells and have a beautiful looking garden!
It has bright green foliage and showy yellow disk flowers having a star-shaped structure. Their appearance resembles a daisy and has five rounded yellow petals. This variety can bloom from spring to fall in cooler climates.
However, if you live in warmer areas, the blooming may stop in hot summer days. Chrysogonum virginianum var. brevistolon is common in Georgia, Alabama, Carolinas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum:
This cultivar of Chrysogonum virginianum is the most common variety that you’ll find. They produce daisy-like yellow flowers from March to October. May is the peak bloom time. The foliage is dark green and can grow up to nine inches in height. Chrysogonum virginianum var. virginianum is able to retain its evergreen leaves throughout the year and make an ideal choice for a rock garden with its low-growing best ground cover appearance.
Caring for Chrysogonum Virginiaum
Chrysogonum virginianum golden star is a low maintenance plant. You don’t have to worry about pest problems, plant diseases, and constant pruning. Also, it can handle average soil with moderate moisture.
Light and Temperature
Chrysogonum virginianum plants grow well in locations with part shade to full shade, or areas of sun dappled part shade. They can tolerate full sun, but you have to make sure the soil remains consistently moist. The ideal location is a partly shady sun-dappled area.
Extreme weather, and hot summer climates of Florida and Louisiana may cause the plant to brown. Give it plenty of shade if you live in a region with hot summers. In cold it will die back, but it should return in spring. Since it’s semi-evergreen, don’t worry about the plant browning in winter. This is a natural part of growing green and gold in colder regions.
Water and Humidity
Chrysogonum virginianum plants prefer medium to wet soil. If you decide to plant green and gold in a location that is windy or gets more sun rather than part shade, you need to water the soil frequently or else it will dry up and your plants will suffer. Make sure to increase watering frequency during the heat of summer as well.
As long as you follow these watering guidelines for these native plants, you’ll acheive the moderate humidity needed to care for this plant.
Golden knee plant prefers neutral or acidic soil with pH value less than 6.8. Although it can handle wet soil that occurs along woodland paths, allow for some drainage or the plants’ roots will suffer root rot. Organically rich soils and consistently moist soils are best. Provide your planting area with amendments of rich potting soil or well-rotted compost to retain moisture and keep your plants happy.
You can add composted pine bark at 20% volume into heavy clay soils to avoid the possibility of roots rotting. In this same vein, well drained soils are a must!
Although this yellow-flowered ground cover doesn’t absolutely need fertilizer, you can feed it with a slow-release, organic fertilizer if you choose. Mix into the top 1″ of soil before planting, or amend by sprinkling in spring. Don’t overdo it, though, as many native plants can suffer from too much assistance in the form of fertilizer.
Pruning Green and Gold
As flowering stems rise from leaf axils of your foliage mat in spring, your C. virginiaum plants will produce their bright yellow flowers. You can snip these flower stems as the flowers fade in fall to prevent self-seeding. Feel free to prune the green parts of the plant at any time to provide air circulation and shape the plant.
Repotting Chrysogonum Virginiaum
Although most gardeners opt to grow as a ground cover, you can easily cultivate in a container garden as well. To repot, simply divide it by its rhizomatic roots, looking for separations between growth points, and move the divisions to another pot. Pretty soon you’ll have another full container or growth!
Chrysogonum Virginiaum Propagation
To propagate these plants, you can use the softwood cutting technique. For this, you need a variety that produces stolons. These stolons can be cut and dug to extract the root from the soil and transplanted elsewhere.
Another way to propagate is through the division of the crown. The best season to propagate by division is in late spring. Follow the instructions in the Repotting section to adequately divide the plant and replant in well drained soils.
In this season, seeds can be found around the base of established plants. You can store up these seeds and sow in a fine potting mix at 70-75°F. The seeds will start germinating in three weeks.
If you’re looking for a problem-free groundcover to boost the aesthetic appeal of your home garden, green and gold is the perfect answer. It gives you the least level of trouble and is easy to take care of. However, you may run into a few key issues.
Chrysogonum Virginiaum Growing Problems
Most of the issues you’ll run into can be solved by preparing a good soil mixture and watering appropriately. As mentioned before, they need a part to full shade and consistently moist soils. If you get those two conditions correct, you shouldn’t have any issues.
They rarely experience pest problems. However, snails and slugs can eat holes in newer spring foliage. It won’t cause any serious long-term damage, though. You can eliminate them by using iron phosphate, the beer trap, or a variety of other slug and snail control methods.
Every so often your golden star, with its star-shaped flowers, may run into powdery or downy mildew issues. Both present as fungal growth on leaves. Downy mildew growths are on both the leaf surface and undersides. Powdery mildew grows solely on the tops of leaves and flower stems.
For care for those particular diseases, remove affected leaves and flower stems from the foliage mat as they crop up. Try to consistently prune to promote good air circulation, and keep other plants away from affected ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What fertilizer do I need for green and gold?
A: A slow-release, organic fertilizer is best. You can mix it in the planting soil at the time of transplanting your starts.
Q: I have neutral soil. How do I make it ideal for green and gold groundcover?
A: Neutral soil works fine for green and gold. To make the soil acidic, you can incorporate dolomitic limestone in the planting area to bring the pH down to below 6.8.
Q: Which variety of green and gold is best for larger woodland sites?
A: Chrysogonum virginianum var. australe is ideal for larger woodland sites because of their ability to rapidly spread.
Q: Is Chrysogonum an evergreen?
A: Yes, unless winters are significantly cold, or the plant is placed in full sun in hot summer climates, green and gold is semi-evergreen.
Q: Is Chrysogonum Virginianum deer resistant?
A: It is! Because of the hairy leaves that irritate deer tongues, it’s a great deer-resistant plant.
Q: Is Chrysogonum Virginianum invasive?
A: While they aren’t classed as an invasive species, plant these ground cover plants where you’re expecting them to spread out, or where you’re able to reach them for consistent maintenance.
Q: Is Chrysogonum Virginianum edible?
A: The berries produced by the plant along its leaf axils are edible for wild birds.
Q: How long does green and gold bloom?
A: Green and gold is a long-bloomer. Its flowers open in late spring and fade in fall, revealing lovely berries.