Native plants

Native plants are adapted to local climate, soil conditions and diseases. Since they have evolved surviving on rainfall alone, they are good choices for low maintenance, low water consumption gardens.

Check with your local nursery or garden supply store for more information on native plants such as the ones suggested below. Local sources of native plants include the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville and the Oldfield Habitat Garden & Wildflower Nursery, as well as the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club’s annual native plant sale at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (Experimental Farm).

Make sure that the plants you choose are actually native to eastern Ontario, not just to North America in general. The City of Ottawa has a list of all known plant species occurring here, with notations on which ones are not native to our area. There are several organisations that provide great resources as well; for more information on native plants, please refer to the following:


In areas that are not used much, grass can be replaced by one or more groundcovers. Many of the following species will thrive in shady areas, unlike most turf grasses.

  • Bearberry (white-pink flowers in early spring; red berries in summer) – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Bloodroot (beautiful white flowers in early spring) – Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Bunchberry (white flowers followed by red berries) – Cornus canadensis
  • Canada Mayflower (white flowers in spring) – Maianthemum canadense
  • Foamflower (clusters of white flowers in spring) – Tiarella cordifolia
  • Partridgeberry (very low-growing, evergreen with red berries) – Mitchella repens
  • Violets, including Sweet White, Canada, Northern White, Yellow or Common Blue – Viola blanda, V. canadensis, V. macloskeyi, V. pubescens or V. sororia
  • Wild Ginger (interesting flowers in spring) – Asarum canadense
  • Wild Strawberry (white flowers in late spring, edible berries in summer) – Fragaria virginiana
  • Wintergreen (low-growing, aromatic evergreen leaves and red berries) – Gaultheria procumbens


Many commercially prepared wildflower seed mixes contain species that are not native to our area. Some mixes even include invasive species that should not be planted near natural areas!

  • Asters, such as Panicled, Calico, New England or Purple-stemmed – Symphyotrichum (formerly Aster) lanceolatum, S. lateriflorum, S. novae-angliae or S. puniceum
  • Blue Flag – Iris versicolor
  • Canada Anemone – Anemone canadensis
  • Cardinal Flower – Lobelia cardinalis
  • Goldenrods, including Tall, Canada, Zigzag, Early or Rough – Solidago altissima, S. canadensis, S. flexicaulis, S. juncea or S. rugosa
  • Spring-beauty – Claytonia caroliniana
  • Trilliums, including White or Red – Trillium grandiflorum or T. erectum
  • Wild Columbine – Aquilegia canadensis


  • Canada Yew (evergreen) – Taxus canadensis
  • Chokeberry – Aronia melanocarpa (also known as Photinia melanocarpa)
  • Common Juniper (evergreen) – Juniperus communis
  • Elderberry, either Common or Red – Sambucus canadensis or S. pubens (also known as S. racemosa ssp. pubens)
  • Maple-leaf Viburnum – Viburnum acerifolium
  • Nannyberry – Viburnum lentago
  • Northern Bush-honeysuckle – Diervilla lonicera
  • Purple-flowered Raspberry (large, showy flowers and leaves) – Rubus odoratus
  • Staghorn Sumac (large shrub/small tree; spreads by roots) – Rhus typhina
  • Winterberry (bright red berries in fall and winter) – Ilex verticillata

Trees (small)

  • Alternate-leaved Dogwood – Cornus alternifolia
  • Blue-beech – Carpinus caroliniana
  • Hawthorn – Crataegus chrysocarpa, C. flabellata or C. submollis
  • Pin Cherry – Prunus pensylvanica
  • Maple, either Mountain or Striped – Acer spicatum or A. pensylvanicum
  • Serviceberry – Amelanchier arborea
  • White Cedar (evergreen) – Thuja occidentalis

Trees (large)

  • American Beech – Fagus grandifolia
  • Balsam Fir (evergreen) – Abies balsamea
  • Birch, either White or Yellow – Betula papyrifera or B. alleghaniensis
  • Bitternut Hickory – Carya cordiformis
  • Black Cherry – Prunus serotina
  • Maple, either Red, Silver, United (hybrid) or Sugar – Acer rubrum, A. saccharinum, A. x freemanii or A. saccharum
  • Oak, either Red or Bur – Quercus rubra or Q. macrocarpa
  • Tamarack – Larix laricina
  • White Pine (evergreen) – Pinus strobus
  • White Spruce (evergreen) – Picea glauca

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