Trillium wildflower

Garden with Native Plants & Wildflowers

Garden with Native Plants & Wildflowers

One of the delights of our Conservation areas, Provincial and National Parks are the plants in their natural habitats. These native plants have evolved to survive in the natural areas of these particular regions. Many of these plants will adapt to conditions found in suburban or rural gardens. White Pine, Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Paper Birch, and Hemlock have a distinct image of Eastern Canada. We can use these native plants and wildflowers in our residential gardens but we must do so carefully.

Smaller Native Plants

If you are a city gardener, there are some smaller-scale ornamental trees that are perfect for your lot size.

• The Downy Serviceberry and Pagoda Dogwood are easy to grow, will handle full sun or shade, flower in spring, and have attractive coloured autumn foliage and fruit.

Some native shrubs worthy of consideration are:

Bayberry with its waxy, blue-grey, aromatic fruit.

St John's Wort flower

St. John’s Wort with its bright golden-yellow flowers against blue-green leaves.

Fragrant Sumac with its brilliant red fall foliage and adaptability to poor soil.

Red Osier Dogwood with its burgundy-red twigs looks great in the winter.

Large Native Plants

Some of the native trees and evergreens mentioned above as well as Ohio Buckeye, Ironwood, Tamarack, Balsam Fir, and White Spruce, are large specimens that may cast significant shade and/or produce acidic soil. Some may grow too large for a small city or suburban property. However, if your property is an acre or more, they are ideal and require little maintenance.


Wildflowers fall roughly into 2 categories.

A. 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.

1.You need to provide a similarly rich soil condition that drains well.

2. For sandy or clay soil, add a lot of compost, peat moss, and/or manure.

birch tree garden path

3. Plant other shade-tolerant perennials like Astilbe, Daylilies, or Hostas in the immediate vicinity since many of the spring shade wildflowers disappear completely after flowering.

4. Mulch, between plants to conserve moisture and help minimize weeds.

B. Those that grow in the sun in open meadows – Mullein, Joe-Pye Weed, Goldenrod, and Butterfly Weed. Wildflowers for sun can easily be started from seed mixtures that are composed of annuals biennials, and perennials.

1.They grow randomly in a scattered pattern.

2. Some statuesque wildflowers are highly prized in perennial borders where they look perfectly at home and contained, rather than sprawling.

When trying to grow native plants in your own garden, try to recreate, as best you can, their natural growing habitat. Never take wild specimens directly from nature. They are protected by law so future generations can also admire them in the wild rather than at a Botanical Garden.