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The Top 12 Must Have Native Plants

Rudbeckia hirta

March 30, 2019 – The Gardener’s Journal – The Top 12 Must Have Native Plants – The biggest reason to plant native plants in your garden is not because they are easy to grow or are low maintenance. Some native plants are actually quite difficult to grow and do require particular growing conditions to thrive. Always choose the right plant for the right location and never plant invasive species.

The main reason to include native plants in your garden is that they provide essential food for beneficial insects, bees, birds and butterflies. Native plants provide a healthy eco-system that supports their existence. There may be holes on the leaves of the Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) or the Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), but that is no reason to have a knee jerk reaction and break out the spray. Native plants are very resilient and can tough out some so-called foliage damage. We must learn to embrace the beautifully ‘real’ world of gardening.

I have chosen my top 12 must have native plants. With these top twelve native plants you will have blooms from spring until frost. They will provide a home and an all season buffet for all the pollinators to thrive.


Veronicastrum virginicum (culver's root)

Veronicastrum virginicum
(culver’s root)

Veronicastrum virginicum (culver’s root) has candelabra-like white flowers that make an elegant display at the back of a moist garden border. The dark green leaves elegantly whorl up the long stems. A very decorative native Ontario perennial. Native or hybrid every plant should be planted in its ideal growing condition. We do not water our botanical gardens and have found that Veronicastrum does not tolerate dry conditions very happily. Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun – Part Shade
  • Soil: Any type – the better the soil the better the plant grows
  • Moisture: Average – Moist – Wet
  • Benefits: Easy, Butterflies, Cut Flower, Pollinators
  • Height: 4-6 feet
  • Blooms: August – September
  • Foliage: Green
  • Spacing: 36-48 inches
  • Growth Habit: Clumping
  • Zones: 3-9

Rudbeckia subtomentosa (sweet coneflower)

Rudbeckia subtomentosa
(sweet coneflower)

Rudbeckia subtomentosa (sweet coneflower) has yellow daisy shaped flowers with a brown center. It is a tall, long- blooming, non-invasive perennial and makes a showy statement for the late summer garden. Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun – Part Shade
  • Soil: Any type – the better the soil the better the plant grows
  • Moisture: Average – Moist – Dry
  • Benefits: Easy, Deer Resistant, Cut Flower, Pollinators, Long-Blooming
  • Height: 3-5 feet
  • Blooms: July – October
  • Foliage: Green 3 lobed leaves
  • Spacing: 24 inches
  • Growth Habit: Clumping
  • Zones: 4-8′

Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’ (joe-pye weed)

Eupatorium maculatum
(joe-pye weed)

Eupatorium maculatum (joe-pye weed) has umbellifer shaped, rose-pink flowers on sturdy stems, making it a great cut flower. The flower stems of Eupatorium maculatum rise above the low growing foliage. It attracts bees, pollinators and butterflies. In this photo it combines beautifully with Goldenrod (another native plant). For sale and grown on-site at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun – Part Shade
  • Soil: All types soil
  • Moisture: Average – Dry – Moist – Wet
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower, Bees, Easy
  • Height: 6-8 feet
  • Blooms: August to October
  • Foliage: Green
  • Spacing: 36 inches
  • Growth Habit: clumping
  • Zones: 4-9

Eryngium yuccifolium rattlesnake master

Eryngium yuccifolium
(rattlesnake master)

Eryngium yuccifolium is a native Ontario plant that has masses of small white flower balls on tall sturdy stems, making it a great cut flower. The flower stems rise above the rosette of spiny leaves that resemble a Yucca plant. Eryngium yuccifolium attracts pollinators and butterflies. Rarely seen in gardens and is very drought tolerant. For sale and grown on-site at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: All types soil
  • Moisture: Average – Dry – Moist
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower, Long-blooming, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant
  • Height: 36 inches
  • Blooms: June to September
  • Foliage: Blue-Green, spiny
  • Spacing: 24 inches
  • Growth Habit: clumping rosettes
  • Zones: 5-9

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
(New England aster)

New England Aster forms a rounded mound of deep royal purple flowers. Aster provides a late season source of nectar for pollinators and butterflies. Makes a great cut flower.

  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: All types of soil
  • Moisture: Drought tolerant
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Bees, Cut-Flower
  • Height: 24 inches
  • Blooms: August to October
  • Foliage: Healthy disease free green foliage
  • Spacing: 24 inches
  • Growth Habit: clumping
  • Zones: 3-9

Mertensia virginica (virginia bluebells)

Mertensia virginica
(virginia bluebells)

Mertensia virginica has bell-shaped sky-blue flowers that dangle in clusters and it’s a native Ontario spring ephemeral. An ephemeral is a plant that goes dormant in the summer. We plant Mertensia virgnica between Tiarella cordifola so as the leaves of the Mertensia virginica are going dormant the Tiarella leaves hide the decaying leaves. This is an outstanding native plant that returns year after year.
Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full shade or part shade
  • Soil: Any type – the better the soil the better the plant grows
  • Moisture: Average – Moist – Dry
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Unique different form
  • Height: 24 inches
  • Blooms: April-May
  • Foliage: Grey-green
  • Spacing: 12 inches
  • Growth Habit: Clump
  • Zones: 2-9

Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)

Tiarella cordifolia
(foamflower)

Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower) has tiny white to pinkish-white flower spikes and it stands out as one of the best native plants for the shade garden. It is a highlight to our spring shade garden and is a very undemanding long-lived perennial. Combines beautifully with Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells). This native Ontario plant is grown onsite and is for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens

  • Light: Full Shade – Part Shade
  • Soil: Prefers moist, rich, organic woodland soil.
  • Moisture: Average – Moist- Dry
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower
  • Height: 12 inches (with bloom)
  • Blooms: May-June
  • Foliage: Green, Lobed
  • Spacing: 16-18 inches
  • Growth Habit: Groundcover, Stoloniferous
  • Zones: 4-8

Vernonia noveborasensis (New York Ironweed)

Vernonia noveboracensis
(new york ironweed)

Vernonia noveboracensis (new york ironweed) has large clusters of purple flowers and forms a very tall, large clump. It may require staking in windy areas. It makes an impressive statement in the back of the garden. We have cut it back by one third around June to reduce its height and it still flowers magnificently. It stands tall all winter with the finished seed heads forming stars. Native Ontario perennial. Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun – Part Shade
  • Soil: Any type – the better the soil the better the plant grows
  • Moisture: Average – Moist – Dry
  • Benefits: Easy, Butterflies, Cut Flower, Pollinators
  • Height: 7-8 feet
  • Blooms: August – September
  • Foliage: Green
  • Spacing: 36 inches
  • Growth Habit: Clumping
  • Zones: 4-9

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea
(purple coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) has pink daisy shaped deep pink flowers. The plant forms a strong, sturdy and hardy clump. Echinacea are a magnet for butterflies and pollinators. Plant in groups to make the biggest impact in the garden. Makes a great combination with button shaped flowers like Monarda. Deadheading faded flowers helps promote re-bloom. For sale and grown on-site at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: All types of well drained soil
  • Moisture: Average – Moist
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower, Long-blooming, Drought Tolerant
  • Height: 27 inches
  • Blooms: July to September
  • Foliage: Green
  • Spacing: 20 inches
  • Growth Habit: clumping
  • Zones: 4-9

Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)

Asclepias tuberosa
(butterflyweed)

Asclepias tuberosa is an Ontario native milkweed that is essential for the survival of the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch butterfly lay their eggs on Asclepias tuberosa and the larvae emerge to feed on the leaves. In full sun Asclepias tuberosa flowers for many months followed by decorative, green seed pods. It emerges from winter dormancy very late. Be patient. It begins to grow with warmer weather. Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: All types of well drained soil
  • Moisture: Average – Tolerates some dry periods
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower, Deer Resistant
  • Height: 24 inches
  • Blooms: July to September
  • Foliage: Dark green leaves have have a thin, willow-like appearance.
  • Spacing: 24 inches
  • Growth Habit: clumping
  • Zones: 3-9

Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop)

Agastache foeniculum
(anise hyssop)

Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop) has long lavender purple flower spikes that are a magnet for pollinators, butterflies and bees. Agastache foeniculum is a drought tolerant, deer resistant, long-blooming perennial that is easy to grow and usually does not require staking. Native Ontario plant. Grown on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens

  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: All types of well drained soil
  • Moisture: Average – Tolerates dry
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Cut-flower, Long-blooming
  • Height: 24-42 inches
  • Blooms: July to October
  • Foliage: Lanceolate, healthy, aromatic, licorice scented green foliage.
  • Spacing: 24-36 inches
  • Growth Habit: Clumping
  • Zones: 4-9

Aruncus dioicus (Goat's Beard)

Aruncus dioicus
(Goat’s Beard)

Aruncus dioicus (goat’s beard) is an Ontario native perennial that has large frothy plumes of creamy-white coloured flowers early summer to mid summer. This Ontario native perennial looks shrub-like and is the largest of all Aruncus selections. Aruncus dioicus is easy to grow and attracts pollinators and butterflies. Grown-on-site and for sale at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

  • Light: Full sun – Part Shade
  • Soil: All types
  • Moisture: Average – Moist – Dry
  • Benefits: Pollinators, Cut-flower, Deer-resistant, Easy
  • Height: 4-5 feet
  • Blooms: June – July
  • Foliage: Textured, Fern-like Green
  • Spacing: 3-4 feet
  • Growth Habit: Clumping
  • Zones: 3-7

View the complete Perennial Catalog

All plant sales are in person at Plant Paradise Country Gardens in Caledon Ontario. As the 2017 Destination Garden Centre of the Year, we have been growing and selling hardy, unique and hard-to-find perennials organically for over 12 years. We are always trialing and testing them in the botanical gardens at Plant Paradise Country Gardens. Our growing practices benefit the whole environment, including the pollinators and beneficial insects.

At Plant Paradise Country Gardens we control every aspect of growing plants on-site. This begins with mixing soil in the potting shed and all the steps in between until the fully grown plants are ready for your garden. This gives us the opportunity to have control over the quality. Our responsibility is to grow healthy plants that are environmentally sustainable. We use only organic gardening methods to grow high quality plants without the use of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Our plants are available in one, two or three gallon containers.

We DO NOT use NeoNicotinoids which is a pesticide used by many plant nurseries that sell to garden centres and big box stores. This pesticide is a known cause of the decline in the bee population. Everything a grower uses in plant production is systemically released into the molecular structure of the plant. This becomes a chain reaction in the long-term health and vibrancy of the plant and your growing environment.

By supporting our environmentally sustainable organic perennial nursery & garden centre you’ll be a part of the positive change that makes a difference in our environment. We believe you’ll see the difference.

3.8/5 (4 Reviews)
Lorraine Roberts
Lorraine Roberts is a lifelong organic gardener, environmental advocate and educator for sustainable gardening methods, horticulturist, garden designer, photographer and author of two books: A Recipe for Continuous Bloom & Spectacular Plant Combinations for the Perennial Garden. Lorraine and her husband Robert are the creators and owners of the multi-award winning botanical garden and organic perennial nursery - Plant Paradise Country Gardens located in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. Every spring you'll find Lorraine in the greenhouse potting the thousands of perennials they grow and sell at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

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