Featured Native Plants

Start your Pollinator Garden with Easy to Grow Plants

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Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Sun, tolerates part sun
Clay-busting, prefers moist wet soil
Blooms:
Jun - Aug
1.5m wide & tall

Found alongside streams and in swamps but can easily be grown in regular garden settings. As a very well behaved Milkweed it is, as all other milkweeds, the only plant the caterpillars of Monarch Butterflies can feed on. Swamp and Common Milkweed are the preferred kinds of milkweed for Monarch caterpillars. The big pink fragrant flower clusters are a favourite nectar source for all butterflies, for a wide variety of bees, including Bumble Bees, the Hummingbird Moth, and Hummingbirds.

Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification and

light to germinate.

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Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) 

Sun to part sun
Tolerates all moisture levels + soil condition
Clay-busting
Blooms:
June- Oct
1.2 m wide & tall

Easy to grow pollinator plant supporting Specialist Bees. 

Host plant for the Silvery Checkerspot and Northern Pearl Crescent. Keep stems up during Fall and Winter, birds like the American Goldfinch eat the seeds. 

Generalist Bees, like Bumble Bees, Leafcutter, Cuckoo, and Sweat Bees as well as other insects like Skippers, Moths and Hoverflies visit this plant for it’s nectar and pollen.


Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

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Foxglove Beardtongue ( Penstemon digitalis)

Sun to part shade

Very versatile

Grows well in any soil, even compacted urban soils 

Average moisture to dry

Blooms:

June-July

1.50 m high & 30 cm wide

White early season flower guides bees with a purple stripe deep into the flower for a nectar reward and hairy tongues make pollination more efficient. Attracts many kinds of bees like Sweat, Leafcutter, Digger, Carder and Bumble Bees and a Specialist Bee. Tubular flower shape also attracts Hummingbirds. Basal foliage is relatively small which allows summer plants to unfold. Beautiful red fall colour, ornamental seed pods add winter interest.

Seeds need 30-60 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

 
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Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.)

Sun to part sun
Prefers moist soil, but does great in any garden,
Clay to sand
Blooms:
July - Sept
1.80 m high & 50 cm wide

Easy to grow pollinator and host plant. 

Nectar is a magnet for Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Bees and many other insects. Songbirds eat the seeds during fall and winter. 

Cavity nesting Bees use the stems for nesting sites. Leave these plants standing tall throughout the winter or cut down to no shorter than 30 cm, about 1 foot.

Deer resistant. Fresh flowers can be used to make tea.

Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification and

light to germinate.

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Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Shade to part shade
Very easy to grow
Ideal for balconies
Well drained soil
Blooms:
May - Jul
1 m high & 50 cm wide

As an early spring bloomer the flowers provide an important source of energy just in time for the Ruby Throated Hummingbird’s spring return. Very important  source of nectar and pollen for the newly emerged Queen Bumble Bees. Attracts many other bees like Long-tongued Bees, Sweat Bees, and the endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. Host plant for Columbine Duskywing and Columbine Borer moth. Can’t tolerate very hot sites. 

Deer resistant.

Best sown in fall, seeds need 60 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

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Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Rocky or sandy to clay soils
drought tolerant
Blooms:
July- Sept
1.60 m tall  & 60 cm wide

Self-seeding biennial. Fragrant flowers open in the evening and attract bats who eat up to 8000 mosquitoes per night. The caterpillar of the stunning pink Evening Primrose Moth can only eat this plant. Specialty bees increase the nectar production of this plant with the sound waves of their wings. Birds like Goldfinches eat the seeds, high in gamma-linolenic acid. Supports a Specialist Evening Primr. Bee that pollinates the flowers before 9am.

Seeds need light to germinate.

 
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Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Full sun
Any soil, drought tolerant, road salt tolerant
Blooms:
Jun - Sept
1 m high & 1 m wide

Easy to grow pollinator plant that provides nectar and pollen to Cuckoo, Mining, small Sweat, small Carpenter  and Digger Bees as well as Flower Flies and Bee Flies. Loved by Skippers, Butterflies of the Gossamer family like the Harvesters, Coppers, Hairstreaks and Blues. 

Larval host plant.

Can spread quickly by rhizomes.



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Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Full sun to part shade
Any well drained soil
Drought tolerant
Blooms:
Jul - Sep
1.80 m high & 1.50 wide

Prefered nectar source for many kinds of bees including Toronto's Official bee (Green Metallic Sweat Bee) and Bumble Bees. Honeybees make very sweet honey with this plant. Attracts many different butterflies, night flying Moths, Skippers, and Hummingbirds.Leave the stems standing, Songbirds love the seeds during fall and winter. The crushed leaves have an amazing black licorice scent. It can be used to make tea. Deer resistant.

Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification and 

light to germinate

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New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Sun, tolerates part sun
Clay-busting, naturally found in wetlands 
Blooms:
Aug - Sept
1.60 m high & 1.40 m wide

Easy to grow in a garden setting. Fragrant, bushy plant with vibrant purple florets provides important late season nectar and pollen to a large variety of bees, including specialist bees like the Andrena spp. and Melissodes ssp. Silver-spotted Skippers, Common Buckeyes, and Monarchs fuel up on it’s nectar. Larval host plant for Pearl Crescent, Silvery 

Checkerspot Butterflies, and several moths. Many birds feast on the seeds in fall and winter. Deer resistant.

Seeds need 60 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

 
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Sweet Oxeye Sunfl.  (Heliopsis helianthoides)

Full sun to part shade
Claybusting, moisture loving, but
Tolerates poor, dry conditions
Blooms:
Jun - Sept
1.8 m high & 1.60 wide

All sunflowers are superhosts for specialist bees. E.g. the Holcopasites heliopis Bee species can only visit oxeye plants and very few others to collect pollen to rear their young. Attracts many different Bees, Butterflies, Pollinating Beetles and Skippers. The stems are ideal nesting sites for Cavity Nesting Bees. Songbirds love to eat the seeds during fall and winter. Leave these plants standing tall throughout the winter or cut down to no shorter than 30 cm, about 1 foot.

Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

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Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Full sun
Clay-busting
Tolerates poor, dry conditions
Blooms:
Jun - Aug
1.80 m wide & 50 cm wide

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweeds and caterpillars feed on the leaf as soon as they are hatched. Fragrant baseball-sized flowers offer abundant nectar to a wide variety of bees and butterflies. Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are the best Milkweed species to support Monarchs.

***Note: spreads aggressively by rhizomes (roots) and via seeds. Remove seed pods before opening.

Seeds need 30 days of cold moist stratification and

light to germinate.

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Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Different species of goldenrod can thrive in any garden conditions.
Full sun to full shade, dry to wet, clay to sand.
Blooms:
Aug - Oct
50 cm - 1.8 m

Goldenrods are the powerhouses of our ecosystems. 

Larval host to over 100 species of caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Support dozens of Specialist Bees and provide important late season nectar and pollen to a wide variety of insects. Monarchs fuel up on high quality nectar at the shores of Lake Ontario for their flight to Mexico. There are many different kinds of well behaved goldenrod perfect for any garden setting.

Seeds need 30 - 60 days of cold moist stratification depending on the species to germinate.

 
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Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)

Full sun
Prefers well drained soils, clay-busting
Drought tolerant
Blooms:
April - July
1 m high & 1 m wide

As an early blooming plant it is an important nectar source for Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and Queen Bumblebees. Nitrogen fixing, long lived, starts blooming in its 3rd year with a deep taproot and minimal required maintenance. 

Larval host plant for Three-lined Grapholita and Black-rimmed Prominent, Wild Indigo Duskywing, Hoary Edge Skipper, and Orange Sulphur Butterflies.

For indoor stratification seeds need scarification and 10 days of cold moist stratification. No scarification is need for outdoor sowing.

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Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

Sun to part sun
Prefers moist soils, but tolerates any garden soil
Blooms:
Aug - Oct
1 m high & wide

Provides late season nectar to Bumble Bees, Metallic Green Sweat Bees, Yellow-faced Bees, Sweat Bees Butterflies: Monarch and Sulphurs

Attracts Hummingbirds

Planted in sunny wet spots it can spread quickly through rhizomes.

Seeds need 60 days of cold moist stratification to germinate.

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Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Full sun
Clay-busting, thrives in all soil types 
Drought tolerant
Blooms:
June-Aug
1 m high & 1.5 m wide

Easy to grow bee magnet and host plant. One of the best plants to support Bumble Bees, Leaf-cutter, Mining, and  Sweat Bee. Short-tongued bees and wasps chew a hole close to the bottom of the flower to get access to the nectar. Many Butterflies including Swallowtails, Monarchs, and Fritillary even Hummingbirds and Hummingbird Moths love the nectar. Very aromatic plant, containing thymol can make tasty tea. Deer resistant.

Seeds profit from 30 days of cold moist stratification.