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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 native plants in their natural habitats. These plants have evolved to survive in the wild areas of our particular regions, and paint a distinct image of Eastern Canada. As such, we can grow these native plants and wildflowers in our residential gardens. However, we must make sure we provide the environment they need  to thrive.

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

It’s important to note that larger specimens may cast significant shade and/or produce acidic soil. Some may also 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!

  • Ohio Buckeye
  • Ironwood
  • Tamarack
  • Balsam Fir
  • White Spruce
  • White Pine
  • Sugar Maple
  • Red Oak
  • Paper Birch
  • Hemlock


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
  • Wild Ginger.

These native flowers grow in the richest, blackest loam soil imaginable that’s created by decades of decaying leaves, twigs, and branches. Therefore, you need to provide a similarly rich soil condition that drains well.

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

Wildflowers for sun can easily be started from seed mixtures that are composed of annuals, biennials, and perennials.

  • They grow randomly in a scattered pattern.
  • 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.