Making the most of the info in the Plant Library:
Start with the Category the most closely matches the conditions of the space you are working with
- If you are new to native plant gardening and would like to start with some species that adapt easily to conventional garden settings, these are my recommendations for where to begin. -Not being included on this list doesn't mean that a species is difficult to grow, just that they either require specific conditions that are not often found in conventional garden settings or that, if planted in a nice rich garden soil and offered consistent moisture, they may promptly overwhelm less enthusiastic neighbouring species.
- These are species often found in sunny, mixed meadow settings made up of primarily herbaceous species and often including grasses or sedges as part of the plant community. These are very similar conditions to what can be found in many sunny gardens. If the soil in your garden has already been enriched, please also check out the ‘Moisture Loving Species’ list since many of the species there thrive in enriched, sunny garden settings.
- These species are often found in open, sunny locations that can become very dry during the summer months. Similar growing conditions are often found in open lawn areas, south and west sides of buildings, along roadsides and in boulevards
- Always double check your local bylaws before planting in municipal boulevards
- These species can be found in ecosystems that include a blend of tree cover, shrubby thickets and open meadows. If you are working with a space with existing mature trees and shrubs and a mix of sun and shade, this is a good list to start with.
- These are species that thrive in closed canopy ecosystems. These generally prefer an organic rich soil with a reliable layer of leaflitter but you can find some species here that are tolerant of dry summer conditions and capable of growing in some pretty challenging sites, including under mature evergreens.
- These are species that are often found in settings that are either consistently moist or that flood seasonally. If you have an enriched garden with consistently available moisture, many of these species will thrive there. Please check out individual plant profiles for details on needed sunlight and any other growing requirements.
Making your plant community species list
Browse through the listings to find a species that is a really good match for the conditions of your site and then check out the Ecosystem Companions for this Species list below the plant profile for a collection of native-to-Ontario species you can work with to create a healthy plant community.
What you’ll find in the Ecosystem Companions for this Species section at the bottom of each species profile,
based on the type of species you are looking at:
Trees and Shrubs and Perennials -All the listings are for Ontario native, herbaceous perennials unless otherwise noted
A selection of native species adapted to the growing conditions preferred by the profiled species and that can be planted together to create a healthy plant community. Each list includes some grasses and / or sedges that would be appropriate matrix species, at least one species of Aster, Goldenrod and Milkweed, (often several), at least one ‘Underplant’ species for filling the spaces below and around taller species. The list may also include annual or biennial species that could be added to a new garden alongside the perennial species fill in and add some blooms to a young ecosystem
-While a diverse community is always my recommendation, you don’t need to include the whole list to have a healthy garden, these are just options.
Grasses and Sedges
Grasses and sedges with compatible light and moisture needs Perennials that would grow well in a matrix of the species in the main profile
Annuals and Biennials
Perennial species that these plants could be planted among to fill in and add some blooms to a young ecosystem Other annuals and biennials that enjoy similar soil and light conditions
Species that the profiled species can thrive around and below, filling in the groundcover layer -Mostly taller species since many lower growing species fully cover the ground