Choosing native plants for your garden

Pollinators emerge hungry in the early spring and rely on plants that provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season, including in late fall.  Our pollinators, including many species of native bees, have co-evolved over time with native plants. For that reason, anyone interested in attracting pollinators should consider planting natives. It is important never to harvest native plants from the wild. Plants and seeds should be obtained from reputable nurseries. 

Additional information on native plants for this region can be found at Wild Pollinator Partners and also at the City of Ottawa

An important part of encouraging native plants is eliminating invasive plants, and the attached list identifies plants to be avoided. 

Aquilegia canadensis  Wild Columbine

Description: Excellent red cut flower. 

Attracts: Hummingbirds, long-tongued bees, butterflies and moths.

Photo Credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Woodland, border, Average to dry. 

Light: Semi-shade. 

Soil: well drained calcareous/loam, moss-covered rocks. 

Blooming Season: May-June.

Geum triflorum – Prairie Smoke 

Description: Interesting reddish purple stalks and sepals (calyx) but pink flower hidden and not showy itself. Excellent as cut stem when fruiting as each seed bears a long showy tail hence the common name.

Attracts: Bumblebees.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Average to dry meadow or clearing. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous gravelly to sandy. 

Blooming Season: May-June.

Phlox divaricata –  Woodland Phlox  

Description: Excellent scented ice blue cut flower.

Attracts: Diversity of pollinators.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Damp woodland. 

Light: Dappled sunlight. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: May–June.  

Iris versicolor – Blue Flag

Description: Excellent blue cut flower.

Attracts: Bee pollinated.

Garden Type: Damp. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June. 

Campanula rotundifolia – Harebell

Description: Excellent blue cut flower.

Attracts: Diversity of pollinators.

 

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Rock garden, border, average to dry. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June – July

Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed

Description:Excellent pink/white scented cut flower.

Attracts: Diversity of pollinators.

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Moist/damp to average. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June – September.

Lysimachia quadrifolia – Whorled Loosestrife

Description: Very good yellow cut flower.

Attracts: Bees

Garden Type: Damp woodland. 

Light: Semi shade. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June

Monarda didyma – Oswego Tea

Description: Excellent red cut flower. Scented foliage.

Attracts: Hummingbirds and butterflies.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Average to damp. 

Light: Sun to part shade. 

Soil: Rich neutral loam. 

Blooming Season: June-July.

Penstemon digitalis – Foxglove Beardtongue

Description: Tall plant, spikes of white flowers.  Very good cut flower.

Attracts: Hummingbirds and butterflies

Photo Credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Average to dry. 

Light: Full sun to part shade.  

Soil: dry to moist well drained calcareous/loam.  

Blooming Season: June-July.

Penstemon hirsutus – Hairy Beardtongue

Description: Excellent pink mauve cut flower.

Attracts: Hummingbirds, bees.

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Rock garden, border, average to dry. 

Light: Full sun to part shade.

Soil: Calcareous/loam.; medium to dry soil

Blooming Season: June – July.

Ratibida pinnataGray-headed Coneflower

Description: Very good yellow cut flower.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies.

 

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Average to dry meadow or forest clearing. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous loam. 

Blooming Season: June-August.

Chamerion augustifolium – Fireweed
Description: Tall showy plant with pinkish-purple flowers
Attracts: Bees and hummingbirds
Photo credit: J. Labreche
Garden Type:  Likes disturbed places, prefers well-drained soil
Light:  Sun and semi-shade
Soil: Prefers well drained soil
Blooming Season: June to September

Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower

Description: Excellent purple cut flower. 

Attracts: Bees, butterflies.

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Average. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June-September.

Heliopsis helianthoides – False Sunflower 

Description: Very good yellow cut flower. 

Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Garden Type: Average. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June-September

Rudbeckia hirta   Black-eyed Susan

Description: Very good yellow cut flower. 

Attracts: Bees, butterflies and moths

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Average to dry. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June-September.

Symphiyotrichum cordifolium (syn. Aster) – Heart-leaved Aster

Description: Very good blue-violet cut flower.

Attracts: Bees.

Garden Type: Average to dry. 

Light: Full sun to semi-shade. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: June – October/ will rebloom

Eutrochium maculateum –  Spotted Joe Pye Weed

Description:Tall, showy plant with pinkish-purple tubular florets

Attracts: Bees, other pollinators

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Prefers damp soil

Light: 

Soil: Sandy, clay or loam

Blooming Season: July

Monarda fistulosa – Wild Bergamot 

Description: Excellent mauve cut flower, scented foliage.

Attracts: Bees.

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Average, Meadow. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: Calcareous, loam. 

Blooming Season: July.

Solidago caesia – Blue-stemmed Goldenrod

Good yellow cut flower.

Attracts: Bees.

Garden Type: Average, woodland. 

Light: Shade. 

Soil: Calcareous, loam. 

Blooming Season: July

Scrophularia marilandica – Carpenter’s Square

Description: Interesting inflorescence, smallish reddish brown flower.

Attracts: Bees, flies.

Garden Type: Average, woodland. 

Light: Shade. 

Soil: Calcareous, loam.

Blooming Season: July

Solidago flexicaulis – Zigzag Goldenrod

Description: Good yellow cut flower.

Attracts: Bees.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Average, woodland. 

Light: Shade. 

Soil: Calcareous, loam. 

Blooming Season: July. 

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower

Description: Excellent red cut flower.

Attracts: Hummingbirds.

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Damp to wet. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: Acidic/organic. 

Blooming Season: July – August.

Anaphalis margaritacea –  Pearly Everlasting

Description:  Interesting white, papery cut flower.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies.

 

Photo credit: J. Labreche

Garden Type: Average to dry meadow or exposed slope. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous loam. 

Blooming Season: July-September.

Doellingeria umbellata – Flat-topped Aster 

Description: Good white cut flower.

Attracts: Bees.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Damp to wet. 

Light: Sun to part shade. 

Soil: Neutral loam. 

Blooming Season: July-September.

Helenium autumnale – Sneezeweed

Description: Excellent yellow cut flower.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies.

Photo credit: G. Boyd

Garden Type: Average, damp to dry. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: well drained calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: July-September.

Helianthus tuberosus – Jerusalem Artichoke

Description: Very good yellow cut flower.

Attracts:  Bees

Garden Type: Average to dry. 

Light: Sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: August– September.

Solidago altissima – Tall Goldenrod

Description: Excellent yellow scented cut flower.

Attracts: Diversity of pollinators.

Garden Type: Damp to average. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: Late July – September

Verbena hastata – Blue Vervain

Description: Excellent blue cut flower.

Attracts: Diversity of pollinators.

Garden Type: Damp to average. 

Light: Full sun. 

Soil: calcareous/loam. 

Blooming Season: July – September

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