All-Star Native Plants for Boulevard Gardens

We follow these guidelines in selecting native plants for our boulevard gardens:
When choosing plants for harsh site conditions, look for...
  • drought tolerance: deep roots; narrow leaves, silvery and/or hairy leaves
  • salt/pollution tolerance
  • indigenous: native to our local area
  • adapted to thrive in site's soil type (clay/loam/sand)​ and pH (acidic, alkaline)
  • adapted to soil's ability to hold and drain water

Drought tolerant 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. A bright location that receives no direct sun would be classified as full shade.

For more info:  

Native Plants for Pollinators, Credit Valley Conservation

Drought Tolerant Perennials: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide Toronto Master Gardeners

Blooming Boulevards uses locally-sourced seeds of native perennials for our boulevard pollinator gardens. Most withstand drought and salt. The wide variety of plant species we grow may vary from year to year, but all are included in those listed below. They are arranged in order of bloom time, spring to fall.

 

 

** Click plant images below for detailed information.

Wild Strawberry
Fragaria virginiana - Low groundcover; shade/part shade/sun; spring; edible fruit.
Bigleaf Geranium
Geranium maculatum - Low bushy 30 cm H; groundcover; neat mounding border plant; shade/part shade/sun; spring bloom.
Canadian Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis - part shade/sun; mid-height; spring blooms; self-seeds and wanders through garden.
Foxglove Beardtongue
Penstemon digitalis; part shade/sun; mid-height; late spring-early summer bloom.
Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Coreopsis lanceolate - mid-height; sun; thin airy plant self-seeds and wanders through garden; blooms throughout summer.
Evening Primrose
Oenothera biennis - upright clustered stems are100 cm tall; shade/part shade; summer bloom.
Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa - sun; 45 - 100 cm high; must have well-drained soil; long-lived; bushy; summer bloom.
White Yarrow
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
Purple Coneflower
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.
Nodding Onion
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.
Greyheaded Coneflower
Ratibida pinnata - sun; 120+ cm tall thin stems; good plant for movement and emphasis; late summer bloom.
Pale Purple Coneflower
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
Anise Hyssop
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
Bee Balm
Monarda fistulosa - sun/part shade; dry to medium moisture preferred; upright stems bushy; will self-sow; 100 cm H; mid-summer blooms.
Dotted Mint
Monarda punctata - Full sun; needs dry well-drained soil; 30 - 60 cm H; pink "petals" are actually bracts; blooms throughout summer.
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
Woodland Sunflower
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
Virginia Mountain Mint
Pycnanthemum-tenuifolium; bushy (useful as border); part shade/sun; mid-height; mid- to late summer bloom.
White Snakeroot
Ageratina altissima - part shade; 30 - 60 cm high; upright clumping habit; late July-mid Aug blooms.
Blazing Star (Gayfeather)
Liatris spicata -
Height:3 ft, Spread: 2 ft, Spacing: 2-3 ft. Flowers July-Aug. Flourishes in sunny sites with moist humus-rich sandy loams. Plants tolerate heavier loams, clay, gravelly or calcareous soils. They also prosper in heat, humidity and drought. During extended hot dry weather lower leaves may wither. In garden soils organic matter can be added to help retain moisture.Rabbits may nibble the foliage and stems.
Blackeyed Susan
Rudebeckia hirta - sun; mid-height; short-lived but renews by self-seeding; July-Aug blooms.
Bottlebrush Grass
Elymus hystrix - airy stems up to 120 cm tall; shade/part shade; summer blooms.
Blue Vervain
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.
Purple Prairie Clover
Dalea purpurea -
Beautiful purple blooms appear in the heat of the summer. An easy going species with a high-level of drought tolerance once established. A pollinator favorite.
Height : 1-2 feet (30-60 cm)
Blooms: July to August
Light : Full Sun
Water : Dry to Medium
Soil : Sand, Loam, Clay
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
White wood aster
Eurybia divaricata, or White Wood Aster, is a herbaceous perennial native to dry open woods in Ontario's Carolinian zone.
Height: 1 - 3 ft
Width: 1.5 - 2.5 ft.
It prefers partial shade with 3-4 hrs of sun daily in average medium to dry well-drained soils. It is shade, deer and drought tolerant. The showy white flowers appear in clusters in late summer to fall and are a favorite of bees and butterflies. Its seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals.
New England Aster
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.
Smooth Aster
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
Stiff Goldenrod
Solidago rigida - grows 100 cm tall, best in poor dry soil; stiff upright stem cluster; fall blooms, leaves turn pink in fall.
Grey Goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis - sun; height 80 - 100 cm; arching cluster of stems & thin leaves; clump forming; late summer/fall bloom.
Sideoats Grama
Little Bluestem
Prairie Dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis -
Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Moisture: Medium-Dry
Height/width: 1 meter
Bloom Time Aug – Oct
Golden fall colour, retains leaves in winter. Food for birds & pollinator larvae.
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BLOOMING BOULEVARDS

T: 1-905-271-1998

E: info@bloomingboulevards.org

Greyheaded Coneflower

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

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