Here in Simcoe, we’re far enough South to enjoy a wide variety of flowers and plants in our garden, including many that hail from tropical rainforests and other exotic locations. However, not all tropicals can withstand our unpredictable Canadian weather, and providing a plant with similar conditions to a rainforest can prove to be tricky. To save the guesswork of whether or not your new, exotic plants will thrive, as well as a ton of time and effort in the long run, we recommend filling your garden with Ontario native plants.
Ontario native plants are so well adapted to our climate, they’re basically able to care for themselves, which is why they grow naturally in the wild. Many are perennials, so you can continue to enjoy them year after year if you plant them in your garden. A little maintenance here and there to keep things neat and trim, and some occasional watering during dry periods is pretty much the bulk of the effort you’ll have to put in with Ontario native plants.
On top of being easy to care for, Ontario native plants are favoured among pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Simcoe wildlife is attracted to the familiarity of Ontario wildflowers, and they usually have much more pollen than specialty hybrid plant varieties.
The Best Ontario Native Plants for Simcoe Gardeners
There seems to be an assumption that your garden needs plenty of exotic tropicals in order to really impress, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! We’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful Ontario native plants to add to your landscape, so you can have a picturesque yard (with extra butterflies!) for way less effort:
Black Eyed Susan: The sunny golden petals or this Ontario native wildflower will instantly brighten up your garden and fill it with butterflies and birds who love to sip its nectar. Black Eyed Susans flower from June to September, so they’re great to mix in with spring-blooming Ontario native plants to ensure your garden is colorful for the entire patio season.
Canada Anemone: Little, white, cup-shaped flowers with butter yellow centres sit atop vivid emerald foliage on this popular Ontario native plant. It spreads easily, is highly drought-tolerant, and grows well in either sun or shade, making it a fabulous filler plant for those hard-to-reach spots in the garden.
Bee Balm: These Ontario native shrubs are covered in the wackiest looking blossoms that kind of look like a haircut Cyndi Lauper had in the ‘80s. It isn’t just bees that love them— butterflies and hummingbirds are big fans too. When planting bee balm in your garden, it’s best not to crowd it too much and give it a little room to breathe so it doesn’t develop mildew on its leaves.
Butterfly Weed: As you can probably guess by the name, these native shrubs of Ontario are covered in flowers that butterflies just can’t resist. The vibrant orange petals attract a certain butterfly of similar styling: the elusive Monarch, whose orange, white and black markings are always a delight to behold.
Purple Coneflower: Also known as Echinacea, these gorgeous daisy-like blooms are a favourite among bees because their bulbous pollen-filled centres are very easy to perch on. If the soil quality in your yard isn’t fantastic, this flower is a great option, because it actually thrives in not-so-great soil conditions. You’ll get way more blooms this way because soil filled with amendments and fertilizers will cause it to develop more foliage than flowers.
Blue False Indigo: These Ontario native plants are part of the pea family, so their blossoms look like those you’d see on your typical pea shoot, but instead are a stunning purple-blue jewel tone. If you don’t deadhead the spent blossoms, they’ll start to develop little peapods. Some gardeners like the appearance and rattling sound the peapods make in the wind, so you can choose whether you want to leave them on or off.
Wild Strawberry: Who doesn’t love a low-maintenance garden plant that provides you with tasty snacks? One cup of these tiny fruits is packed with more vitamin C than an orange, and they develop from the centres of cute five-petaled white blossoms.
Cardinal Flower: This bold blossom is an all-time favourite among hummingbirds. They’re particularly attracted to the candy apple red colour of the petals that cover tall, upright stems that stand out from the surrounding dark green foliage. They can grow up to 4 feet tall, so they make quite a statement as a border plant or an eye-catching focal point for the centre of your garden.
If you long for a vibrant garden full of all sorts of different plants, but don’t have a ton of spare time to devote to regular maintenance, consider planting a garden full of Ontario native plants! You’ll love the color and fragrance they bring to your garden—and the local wildlife will enjoy it too!