All-Star Native Plants for Sun and Shade
Great for Boulevards, Pollinator Gardens and Rain Gardens!

We recommend these guidelines for boulevard gardens:
When choosing plants for harsh streetside conditions, look for...
  • drought /salt tolerance: deep roots; narrow leaves, silvery and/or hairy leaves
  • species under 1 meter in height; no thorns or sharp leaves
  • native species indigenous to your local area
  • species that are pollen- and nectar-rich to benefit pollinators
  • species that are larval hosts for butterflies, moths and other beneficial insects
  • species adapted to thrive in existing soil (clay/loam/sand)​ and pH (acidic, alkaline)

Native plant species vary in their light preferences. It is important to select plants best adapted to available light conditions:

  • Full sun – plants require at least 6 hours of direct, late-morning/afternoon sun

  • Partial shade – plants need 3 to 6 hours of morning or afternoon sun, but should be shaded from the hot, midday sun.

  • Full shade – plants can thrive with less than 3 hours of sun. 

Species below are coded by recommended habitat:

A - BEST FOR BOULEVARDS (low height, drought- and salt-tolerant, infertile soil)

B - BEST FOR SUNNY AREAS (various heights, dry-average soil moisture)

C - BEST FOR SUN/PART SHADE AREAS (various heights, dry-average soil moisture) 

D - BEST FOR SHADE/WOODLAND GARDENS (average-moist rich organic soil)

E - BEST FOR SUNNY DAMP AREAS AND RAIN GARDENS (moist-wet soil)

Blooming Boulevards uses locally-sourced seeds of native perennials for our boulevard pollinator gardens whenever possible. Most withstand drought and salt.

 

The wide variety of plant species we grow may vary slightly from year to year, but all are included in those listed below. 

PLANTS ARE LISTED IN ORDER OF BLOOM TIME, SPRING TO FALL.

Please hover and click on image to see species name, info and helpful link.

Canadian Columbine
Canadian Columbine

A,B,C Aquilegia canadensis - part shade/sun; mid-height; spring blooms; self-seeds and wanders through garden.

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Foxglove beardtongue
Foxglove beardtongue

A,B,C Penstemon digitalis - part shade/sun; mid-height; late spring-early summer bloom.

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Blue-eyed grass
Blue-eyed grass

A,B,C Sisyrinchium montanum - Height: 15 - 45 cm - Bloom Time: May-Jul - Light: Sun, part shade , shade - Moisture: Dry-moist -Soil: Sandy, well-drained - Grows readily from seed. - Blue-eyed grass is not really a grass. It is an unusual member of the iris family because it is native to prairie grasslands, whereas most iris prefer wet lands.

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Prairie smoke
Prairie smoke

A,B Geum triflorum - Height: 15-30 cm - Soil: Loam, Sand - Moisture: Dry-average - Light: Full Sun - Bloom: May-June - Plants spread slowly by rhizome to form a groundcover and are perfectly suited for dry rock gardens. Prairie Smoke is also effective planted in groups in a perennial bed, but it does not like to be overcrowded by taller perennials. Excellent for hot dry spots, it thrives in any well-drained soil.

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Hairy beardtongue
Hairy beardtongue

A,B Penstemon-hirsutus Naturally occurring in dry woodlands and open fields, Hairy Beardtongue forms clusters of two-lipped, trumpet-shaped lavender flowers that bloom for a month or longer in late spring. Hairy Beardtongue is one of the larval host plants of Checkerspot butterflies and attracts bees and other beneficial insects. Growing 1 – 2 feet tall Hairy Beardtongue prefers medium to dry, well-drained soils in full to part sun.

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Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Lanceleaf Coreopsis

A,B Coreopsis lanceolate - mid-height; sun; thin airy plant self-seeds and wanders through garden; blooms throughout summer.

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Butterfly Milkweed
Butterfly Milkweed

A,B Asclepias tuberosa - sun; 45 - 100 cm high; must have well-drained soil; long-lived; bushy; summer bloom.

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Blue Vervain
Blue Vervain

B,E Verbena hastata - clumps of stiff upright leaves, flowers are a high-value nectar plant with a long bloom season. Blooms open bottom to top with only a few open at one time. Height 1 meter, 2 feet wide. Full sun, average to moist, well-drained. Clay, loam, sand. Drought tolerant. Attracts pollinators. Medicinal plant.

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Hoary vervain
Hoary vervain

A,B Verbena stricta Height/Spread: 45 - 60 cm Bloom: May-September Sun: Full sun Water: Dry to medium Attracts: Butterflies Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. May thrive in dryish, sandy soils. Often will naturalize by self-seeding to form colonies. Plants usually bloom in the second year.

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Showy Tick Trefoil
Showy Tick Trefoil

A,B,C Desmodium canadense Height: 3-6 ft. Bloom: June-Sept. Habitat: Open woods; rocky or sandy prairies; stream banks; roadsides Light: Sun Moisture: Dry , Moist Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds, leaf cutter bees. Special value to bumble bees Larval Host: Eastern Tailed Blue, Silver-spotted Skipper, Hoary Edge

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Spotted Joe Pye Weed
Spotted Joe Pye Weed

B,D

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Wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa
Wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa

A,B,D Monarda fistulosa - sun/part shade; dry to medium moisture preferred; upright stems bushy; will self-sow; 100 cm H; mid-summer blooms.

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Swamp Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed

B,E Aesclepias incarnate

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White Yarrow
White Yarrow

A,B Achillea millifolium: Attractive to pollinators. Deadheading extends blooming season and prevents spreading from seed. Height/spread : 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) Bloom: June - Sept Light : Full sun Water : Dry to medium Soil : Sand, loam, clay

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Nodding onions Allium cernuum
Nodding onions Allium cernuum

A,B,C Allium cernuum - Blooms early summer. Open clusters of pinkish purple, droplet-shaped flowers along drooping, arching 2-foot-tall stems. Its foliage is bluish green.The most remarkable feature of the nodding onion is its adaptability. It will grow in almost any situation, from full sun to deep shade. Best grown in full sun and dry to medium, well-drained soil. Tolerates shade as well, especially in hot climates.

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Pale Purple Coneflower
Pale Purple Coneflower

A,B Echinacea pallida: Height: 2 to 3 feet Spread: 1 to1.5 feet Bloom: June to July Full sun to part shade Water: Dry to medium Maintenance: Low Attracts: Butterflies Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

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Purple coneflower Echinacea purpura with
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpura with

A,B,C Echinacea purpurea - Echinacea thrives in an average to moist, well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade. Drought tolerant once established, adaptable to heat and poor soils. Regular deadheading improves appearance, but not necessary to increase bloom time. Direct sun helps develop proper flower pigmentation. Pay special attention to plant depth: crown must be at or slightly above soil level. Freely self-seeds if finished blooms are left on the plant.

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Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop

A,B,C Agastache foeniculum - upright, clump-forming plants. They have a small tap root and expand via spreading rhizomes. Height: 2 to 3 feet Spread: 1.5 to 3 feet Bloom Time: June to September Bloom Description: Lavender to purple Sun: Full sun to part shade Water: Dry to medium Maintenance: Medium Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried Leaf: Fragrant Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil

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Dotted Mint
Dotted Mint

A,B,C Monarda punctata - Full sun; needs dry well-drained soil; 30 - 60 cm H; pink "petals" are actually bracts; blooms throughout summer.

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Virginia Mountain Mint
Virginia Mountain Mint

A,B,C Pycnanthemum-tenuifolium; bushy (useful as border); part shade/sun; mid-height; mid- to late summer bloom.

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Evening Primrose
Evening Primrose

B,C Oenothera biennis - upright clustered stems are100 cm tall; shade/part shade; summer bloom.

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Greyheaded Coneflower
Greyheaded Coneflower

A,B Ratibida pinnata - sun; 120+ cm tall thin stems; good plant for movement and emphasis; late summer bloom.

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Woodland Sunflower
Woodland Sunflower

C,D Helianthus divaricatus: * - full or partial sun - moist to dry loamy, sandy, or rocky soil - may spread aggressively - nectar and pollen attract a wide variety of insects - seeds attract birds

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White Snakeroot
White Snakeroot

C,D Ageratina altissima - part shade; 30 - 60 cm high; upright clumping habit; late July-mid Aug blooms.

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Pearly everlasting
Pearly everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea - Height/width - 1 meter Full sun, drought & salt tolerant. Bloom: extended period, mid-summer-early fall. Leaves: narrow with fine silvery hairs. Pollinators magnet. Photography by Sarah Coulber

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Blackeyed Susan
Blackeyed Susan

Rudebeckia hirta - sun; mid-height; short-lived but renews by self-seeding; July-Aug blooms.

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Blue Lobelia
Blue Lobelia

B,C,E Lobelia siphilitica - Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet Spread: 30 - 90 cm Bloom: July to September Full sun to part shade Does NOT tolerate salt. Water: Medium to wet Attracts hummingbirds and a variety of native bees. this native water-loving plant will thrive in a rain garden with occasional flooding. During extreme drought conditions, it may require extra watering. Short-lived, but spreads easily by seed or rhizomes.

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Bigleaf Wood Aster
Bigleaf Wood Aster

C,D

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Upland White Aster/White Goldenrod
Upland White Aster/White Goldenrod

Solidago ptarmicoides A,B,C • Height: 30-100cm(1- 3') • Blooms: July-Sept • Drought & salt tolerant • Best in neutral pH sandy loam soil • Seeds slow to germinate • Very attractive to bees, butterflies & other pollinators

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New England Aster
New England Aster

A,B,C Symphyotrichum novae-angliae - Height 1 - 1.5 m. Full sun in moist, rich, well-drained soils. Pinch stems early in season to encourage the plant to be bushy and shorter. Blooms Sept - Oct. Tall plants may need staking Good air circulation reduces foliar problems such as powdery mildew and rust. Disease, pest, and problem resistance Drought tolerant, deer, rabbit, salt,temporary wet soils.

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Smooth Aster
Smooth Aster

A,B,C Aster laevis - Fragrant, flowers. Light: Full Sun Soil: Sand, Loam Moisture: Dry, Medium Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Birds, Host Plant Height: 2'-4' Blooms: Aug, Sep, Oct

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Sky-Blue-Aster_Symphyotrichum oolentangiense
Sky-Blue-Aster_Symphyotrichum oolentangiense

A,B,C Bloom: Aug - Nov Soil Type: Average, rocky Tolerance: Drought, salt Exposure: Full sun-part shade Height: 60-90 cm Water: Dry to moderate

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Heath Aster
Heath Aster

Aster ericoides- Thrives on the driest sandy and gravelly soils and produces a blizzard of bright white flowers in late summer and early fall. Creeping slowly by rhizomes to form small "bushes," Aster ericoides is one of our longest lived Asters. Plant with Stiff Goldenrod and Smooth Aster for a great fall show. Light: Full Sun Soil: Sand, Loam Moisture: Dry, Medium Benefits: Pollinators, Butterflies, Birds, Host Plant Height: 1'-3' Blooms: Aug, Sep, Oct

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Stiff Goldenrod
Stiff Goldenrod

Solidago rigida - grows 100 cm tall, best in poor dry soil; stiff upright stem cluster; fall blooms, leaves turn pink in fall.

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Zigzag goldenrod
Zigzag goldenrod

Solidago flexicaulis Sun: Part shade - shade Height: 3ft Blooms: August -September Soil: Sand, loam, clay Moisture: Medium to dry A pollinator magnet for shady gardens! Flowers are some of the most fragrant out of all of the native Goldenrods in Ontario. Give it part to dappled shade with average to dry soil. Spreads slowly by rhizomes and a little bit faster by seed.

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Grey Goldenrod
Grey Goldenrod

A,B,C Solidago nemoralis - sun; height 80 - 100 cm; arching cluster of stems & thin leaves; clump forming; late summer/fall bloom.

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Sideoats Grama
Sideoats Grama
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Little Bluestem
Little Bluestem
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Bottlebrush Grass
Bottlebrush Grass

Elymus hystrix - airy stems up to 120 cm tall; shade/part shade; summer blooms.

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