Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata): A Seasonal Look

In November 2015, I wrote about the golden glory that is Plateau GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, or as I usually call it–Goldeneye.


A native to the Southwestern U.S., specifically Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Plateau Goldeneye is a bright and sprightly autumn bloomer which graces the likes of roadsides, plains and valleys, and home gardens equally.

In profiling this perennial for A Seasonal Look, I realize that it has a limited area in which it grows naturally, but it’s an interesting plant and if you garden in its range, it’s one that dry-garden gardeners should grow, especially those who wish to attract a range of wildlife.

In winter after a  reasonable freeze, the plant is done for the year.


In milder winters (like that of 2016) there may still be some green leaves and canes,

…and a flush of new growth in January or February.

I typically  leave my Goldeneye for as long as possible because I’ve read that finches will take strips of leaves for their nests as they prepare for spring breeding season.  Also, there are often seeds available throughout much of winter for birds to snack on–and they do partake of those seeds.  So, in spite of its skeletal, freezer-burned appearance, I keep mine around until mid-to-late February, or as long as I can stand to look at them.

However, there arrives a day when it’s time to whack back the remains of the year’s growth.  And whack I do.

Does that make me whackadoo??

Here in Central Texas, in normal winters with regular freezes, Goldeneye remain dormant until March. It’s a nice garden design practice if planted with evergreens or more structural plants as companions, but the dormant period isn’t all that long. Once spring warmth envelops Central Texas, the arrival of Goldeneye foliage is not far behind.

Plateau Goldeneye belongs to the Asteraceae family and shares the qualities of other sunflower-type perennials–lovely, cheery blooms coupled with  somewhat large, sand-papery leaves.The leaves are attractive for most of the growing season–they’re a rich green, especially in early spring, then border on grey/green later in the growing season.


The leaves grow opposite and full along the stems of the plant, leading to a bushy, upright growth habit for the individual plant. Throughout spring and summer, the plant grows,

…and grows.

Goldeneye  plants  typically reach 3-4 feet tall in my gardens, but can grow as tall as 6 feet.

It’s exciting when I spy my first Plateau Goldeneye bloom, usually in August, but sometimes as early as June or July.


There are a smattering of blooms in summer, but only enough to hint at the beauty to come.RICOH IMAGING

In September, though the days are warm, the light changes and the buds of Goldeneye form.


The anticipation of those shorter autumn days, combined with the flowering Goldeneye, are  just compensation for the long Texas summer. And well-worth waiting for!!



BOOM!!  Plateau Goldeneye flowers appear and brighten the world.

A variety of bees nectar and gather pollen from this nurturing plant.

Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Goldeneye is also the host plant for two butterfly species, Cassius BlueLeptotes cassius and Bordered PatchChlosyne lacinia.  I’ve seen Bordered Patch butterflies and their eggs on Goldeneye, but never the Cassius Blue.  I’ve seen butterflies of many species working Goldeneye blossoms, but oddly, never took a photo. My bad.

The Goldeneye sunshine show lasts for 4-6 weeks. It’s a plant that mixes well with other bloomers, too.





Sometimes my Goldeneye require staking, especially in a wetter-than-normal year. The bushy quality of Plateau Goldeneye lends itself to a lush, but well-appointed mien throughout summer, which is deceptive because once the fall growth spurt occurs and the masses of blooms develop and open, the weight of those blooms can cause the plants to lean over.

In more shade, the plants grow taller, thinner, and they lean more. In fuller sun, the plants remain upright and generally keep their form,  even when the flowers appear.

Pruning Goldeneye in July or August by about 1/3 is one method of preventing Goldeneye floppiness and sloppiness once the October explosion of yellow flowery joy happens.  After a light pruning, the plant continues growing, but more compactly and seemingly able to handle the onslaught of flowers.  But if there are heavy fall rains during the height of blooming (which happens here in Central Texas) the floral-laden Goldeneye stems tend to flop over and sometimes break at the base of the plant. I boost the stems by staking if I can and don’t fret about it if I can’t.    For those gardeners who want a totally tidy plant, you’ll need to prune in mid-to-late summer.  If you’re fine with some seasonal fall wonkiness, just let the plants do what they want.

Every fall, the bloom decline seems sudden, though it’s probably because I enjoy the flowers so much that I’m sorry to see them go for the year.

However, once seed development is in full swing,

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

…a second wildlife performance is definitely worth watching.   Entertaining and biologically important, feeding finches of several varieties adore the seeds.  In my garden, it’s usually the Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria,  who are the main, though not the only, visitors of the Goldeneye food bar for weeks. Eventually, the finches clean out the seeds and/or move on to riper pickings and the plants are left to the whimsy of  colder temperatures.

The two major problems I find with Goldeneye is that they re-seed prolifically, especially in wet years, and the aforementioned flopping over once the blast of blooms appear.  I haven’t found the seedlings onerous to weed, and timely, judicious pruning mostly takes care of the wayward limbs.

Plateau Goldeneye is an extremely drought tolerant plant–very appropriate for someone who doesn’t want a water-needy perennial.  Because it’s such an attractive plant for so many species of wild critters, it’s a must-have addition for a wildlife garden.  It’s casual growth habit could be an issue for those wanting a more formal garden,


…but placing plants at the rear of a bed, fronted by other shrubs and perennials can solve the issue of their loosey-goosey growing nature.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson plant database, Goldeneye have only “minimal” deer resistance.

In Winter,








…Goldeneye is a tough survivor, beautiful bloomer, and a valuable resource for wildlife.  If you live in its native range, try this perennial in your garden.    It grows easily by seed or transplants.  Commercially, you’re most likely to find seeds or seedlings at a locally owned nursery, or if you live near Austin, Goldeneye are usually on sale at the LBJ Wildflower Center’s fall or spring plant sale.  Goldeneye is also a common passalong plant in its native range.

Plant and enjoy these gleeful blooms!

Bloom Day, November 2014–Dodged the Frozen Bullet

After a chilly week and our first real touch of winter, there are still blooms in my gardens. Lucky gardener!  Lucky pollinators!  I live in central Austin and those supposedly in the know predicted our temperature would fall to the high 20’s by early Friday morning.  Well there was no freeze for me and mine.  Outlying areas received their first freeze, but much of  Austin was spared–this time. To celebrate those lucky blooms, I’m joining with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for November Garden Blogger blooms.

The Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus, bloomed its signature fuchsia necklace  rather late this year.

Now with colder temperatures and shorter days, the blossoms are fading on the

I think my honeybees will miss this favorite nectar source.

The native Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  still blooms,

…though it’s going to seed. One patch blossoms in tandem with the blue Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea,’Henry Duelberg’.

A freeze would have quickly ended that pretty pairing.

Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, sports flowers this November and that’s unusual–they normally stop production by late

Heavy with seed, I’ll expect more of these lovelies in seedling form next year.  Any takers?

And GoldeneyeViguiera dentata?  It just won’t quit.  This most photogenic of flowers, has bloomed since September.

This is one of my two last blooming Goldeneye plants.

The Goldeneye plants in the back garden bloomed first, then set seed and were followed by others throughout my gardens, each individual plant taking turn at adding cheeriness and wildlife goodness to the world.  I’m glad these hardy natives have planted themselves all over my gardens.  Bees, butterflies, birds, as well as this gardener, enjoy and appreciate a long season with these pretties.

The last FrostweedVerbesina virginica, is in flowering mode.

While most of that species are setting seed.

A few Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus, still bloom.

Yellow BellsTecoma stans, ‘Esperanza’, are available for passing bees and butterflies.

Blue MistflowerConoclinium coelestinum,

and Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii,

…are toward the end of their season.  A true freeze will force the blue blooms into a tawny fluff, ready for dormancy.

Red YuccaHesperaloe parviflora, blossoms on its long bloom spike until a hard freeze.

This hasn’t been a banner year for my salvia species.  They’ve bloomed, but not regularly nor as fully as usual.  But they aren’t quite ready to close up shop, so bloom they will until it’s just too chilly and dark.  Salvia like this red Tropical SageSalvia coccinea,

…and this Purple Sage, S. greggii x mycrophylla,

…and this red Autumn SageS. greggii,

…and another,

…and this coral Autumn Sage.

They’re determined, if not prolific.

The remains of Fall AsterSymphyotrichum oblongifolium, are tired of blooming and ready for seeding themselves.


When I thought there would be freezing temperatures, I cut the last of the fall blooms of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea and Tropical Sage and did this:

As well, I cut a few Goldeneye and basil and did this:

I’m not much for cut flowers in the house (I much prefer a garden full of blooms), but they are nice when it’s gloomy outside. I guess November in my garden and my house is not so barren after all!

Pop on over to May Dreams Garden and enjoy a show of November blooms from all over


Texas Native Plant Week-Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata

I’m continuing to mark Texas Native Plant Week which I began on with this post on Sunday. This week, I’ve written about Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala and Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus.  Today, we visit Sunflower Goldeneye or Plateau GoldeneyeViguiera dentata. Also, today is Wildflower Wednesday, so I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone for our monthly tribute to all flowers wild.

Wildflower double prizes!

There are lots of lovely fall bloomers here in Central Texas, but none which brighten the garden more than the Sunflower Goldeneye–which I usually shorten to just plain old Goldeneye.

There’s nothing plain about this eye-catching ray of sunshine!

I love this blindingly cheery perennial sunflower!  Native to Central Texas, west to Arizona and southward through Mexico and Central America, this plant packs a powerhouse of wildlife goodness.  Goldeneye is the host plant for two butterflies, the Cassius Blue and the Bordered Patch (neither of which I’ve ever observed around my Goldeneye), but is also favored by bees and other butterflies.  In my gardens, my hived honeybees are so all over the Goldeneye that often the plants look like they’re  moving.

And once the flowers are spent and seed production begins?   It’s a finch feeding fest!

Specifically, the Lesser Finch really love the seeds of Goldeneye.  They’ve entertained me well this past week.

After the first hard freeze, the Goldeneye die to the ground.  They’ll reappear though in late spring, growing fully and rapidly.  During the course of summer, there will be a smattering of blooms, but mostly this perennial is all about its foliage in the summer, which are typical of sunflower leaves, large and rough textured. As Goldeneye fills out, it’s lush and neat in appearance. But after the first late August-September rains, Goldeneye burst forward in height and width and blossoms with masses of sunny, yellow blooms.

Like all wildflowers, there’s always some variability and difference between individual plants.  Some Goldeneye flowers are larger, some smaller; some Goldeneye have very narrow petals,

…and some have wider petals.

I appreciate that each plant has its own “personality”–just a little different from its neighbor.

Goldeneye pair nicely with other fall bloomers.

These sunflowers grow and bloom in shade, but they get tall and lanky and tend to flop over once they are bloom heavy,

…which they will become in the fall.  In mostly sunny spots though, they tend to remain more compact and stable.

As with other wildflowers, you should tolerate the rangy growth habit toward the end of Goldeneye’s growing season.

As lovely as most native plants and wildflowers are to us, they didn’t evolve to look pretty for people, but to provide food and cover for wildlife. Wildflowers are beautiful in our cultivated gardens for most of their growing season, but there’s almost always a short period of time after blooming and seeding, that wildflowers look spent from their wildflower production activities.  Be patient with your native wild plants during that period of time.

You’ll be glad you did!