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Planting a Garden for Success: Try Native Plants

With our hot summers and unpredictable rain fall, gardening can be a challenge. Make growing a garden easy for yourself by selecting plants that you know are going to do well. 

Plants that are considered native or indigenous to Southern Ontario have evolved here and adapted over time to the regional climate, soils and wildlife. They will grow best in your yard if planted in the same conditions as they thrive in nature. This means, less water, easier care, fewer pests, and less reliance on pesticides. They require minimal watering once established and very little maintenance.

Make sure you buy plants from local nurseries who sell plants with seeds collected from this area. This will ensure that the plants you are using will be best adapted to local environmental conditions.

In addition to the benefits of lower cost and maintenance, using native plants can help sustain local ecosystems. Ecosystems are communities of plants and animals, including the physical environments they inhabit. Creating healthy, sustainable ecosystems promote the health of them for years to come.

Before you know it, your garden will be a favourite spot for native plants loving insects and birds such as monarch butterflies, black swallowtails and mourning cloaks; honey bees; and birds such as robins, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays and cardinals.

Check out these favourite native plants: 


  • The downy serviceberry and pagoda dogwood are easy to grow, flower in spring, and have attractive coloured autumn foliage and fruit.
  • Bayberry has waxy, blue-grey, aromatic fruit.
  • St. John’s wort can brighten up any garden with its golden-yellow flowers against blue-green leaves.
  • Fragrant sumac has brilliant red, fall foliage and adaptability to poor soil.
  • Red osier dogwood sports burgundy-red twigs and looks great in winter


Wildflowers fall roughly into two categories:

Those that naturally grow in forest shade: trillium, dog-toothed violets, hepatica, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit, ferns, Solomon’s seal, and wild ginger. These native flowers grow in the richest, blackest, loam soil imaginable, created by decades of decaying leaves, twigs, and branches. For sandy or clay soil, add a lot of compost, peat moss, and manure.

Plant other shade-tolerant perennials like astilbe, daylilies, or hostas in the immediate vicinity since many of the spring flowering wildflowers disappear completely after flowering. 

Those that grow in the sun in open meadows: mullein, Joe-Pye weed, goldenrod, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed. Wildflowers for sun can easily be started from seed mixtures that are composed of annuals, biennials, and perennials.


White pine, sugar maple, red oak, paper birch, tamarack, balsam fir, or hemlock.