Top 10 native plants for your garden


by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

Everyone wants beautiful green spaces around their home. It adds character. It also provides a natural area for people and animals to enjoy.

It can also be a challenge when the plants you want to grow just won’t cooperate.  One way to increase your odds of success is to use local or native plant species.

The advantages of native plant speciescolumbine - cropped

Native or local plants belong here. They have adapted to our climate, our weather patterns, and the local flora and fauna. They are also drought tolerant and an excellent choice for rain gardens.

Top 10 native plants

At a recent event, we had Jeff Thompson of Native Plant Source share his top 10 native plants for gardeners in Waterloo Region.

Common NameScientific NameColourBloomHeight (m)
Butterfly MilkweedAsclepias tuberosaOrangeJuly0.5
Sky Blue AsterAster azureusBlueSeptember/October0.5
Pale Purple ConeflowerEchinacea pallidPurpleJuly0.5
Smooth Beard TonguePenstemon digitalisWhiteMay0.25
Little BluestemSchizachyrium scopariumBlueSeptember/October0.25
Common Blue-Eyed GrassSisyrinchium montanumBlueJune0.10
Prairie DockSilphium terebinthinaceumYellowAugust3.0
Indian GrassSorgastrum nutansChestnutSeptember/October2.0
Culvers RootVeronicastrum virginiucumWhiteAugust/September2.0
Golden AlexandersZizia aureaYellowMay0.5

Here are four more reasons to garden with native plants: (by Peter Scholtens, Verbinnen’s Nursery):

  • Native plants support the needs of local wildlife.
  • Native plants require less care than non-native.
  • Some wildlife are completely dependant on specific native plants for survival.
  • Native plants in gardens act as a source for seeds and keep local natural areas populated with native plants.

There are numerous benefits to using native plants, not the least of which is the environment in general.  So enjoy the plants mother nature gave us for our area. They were literally built to thrive here.

What are your sources for native plants?

While it may be tempting to bring back some native wildflowers from a hike, a campground or along a country road, that breaks the cardinal rule of “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” Fortunately, it is pretty easy to buy native plants and seeds.

Here’s a good list of native plant sources in Ontario from Credit Valley Conservation (PDF). You may also want to try the Evergreen Garden Market in east Toronto.

Do you have any of your own recommendations? Please leave them in the comments section below.



  • By Laura Peart-McBride 08 Apr 2016

    Where do you recommend we buy milkweed?

  • By Anne Michelle Doran 09 Apr 2016

    I actually have a bunch of seeds I collected last fall, more than I’ll need if you would like some.

  • By Laura Peart-McBride 09 Apr 2016

    Anne Michelle Doran yes!

  • By REEP Green Solutions 10 Apr 2016

    If you run into trouble with your seeds, you should be able to buy milkweed at either Native Plant Source or Nith River Native Plants. Does anyone know of any other sources to buy milkweed that is started?

  • By Laura Peart-McBride 10 Apr 2016

    Greenway Blooming Centre has a focus on native plants for butterflies. I know they sell annual milkweed in the fall (I get one with my monarch kit every year). I think this year may be there year I get a butterfly bush!!

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