Native plants sustain birds, bees and butterflies
If you’re looking to create a beautiful, low-maintenance garden that also helps birds, bees and butterflies, planting native plant perennials is for you! Not only will you enjoy the ever-changing colour as they bloom throughout the garden season, you’ll provide important habitat that will bring your garden to life.
Here are some native plants for Ontario gardeners – they are all easy to find at local native plant nurseries and easy to care for:
- Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) – a lovely spring bloomer that will do well in part-shade or shade
- Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) – lush, heart-shaped leaves make this a wonderful ground cover in shady areas
- Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) – this sun lover has bright orange blooms that add a brilliant hit of colour and attract Monarch butterflies
- New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) – who says your garden is past it when September rolls around? These purple blooms cheer up any sunny space, attracting native bees and Painted Lady butterfies.
- Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) – there are so many kinds to choose from for both sunny and shadier locales, another bee and butterfly powerhouse (and there’s no need to worry about allergies – all the blame for that lies with ragweed!) Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) is ideal for shadier spots; Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) is a great choice for full sun.
- Wild bergamot, also known as bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) – with sweet pink or purplish blooms, this plant is loved by bees, birds and butterflies. Takes sun or part-shade. Provide good air circulation and drainage to prevent mildew.
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) – considered ‘near’ natives in Ontario, purple coneflower is a long bloomer that can withstand dry conditions. Their seedheads also look great in the winter and are a food source for finches, chickadees, cardinals and other feathered friends.
- Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – perfect for a rain garden, likes sun, host plant for Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum). Forms a nice big bush, best in sun, a true pollinator magnet.
- Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta L.), a bright yellow charmer and long-bloomer that loves sun, takes dry conditions and attracts bees and butterflies. Birds will feast on the seed heads.
Before you make your choices, do some research to find out which native plants are best suited for your garden’s soil and light conditions, and consider the plants’ blooming times to ensure you have a mix of colour throughout the growing season.
By planting Ontario native plants in your garden, you can create a beautiful and sustainable landscape that supports local wildlife and helps protect the environment.