Native Gardening Tips

All species listed below are local wild flower species native to the Kingston region.

Click on an image below to learn more about the topic.

Preparing your
wild seeds

New England aster

Ox-eye sunflower

Spiked blazing star

Butterfly milkweed

Wild bergamot

Turtlehead

Bottle gentian

Swamp rose mallow

Great blue lobelia

How to Prepare Your Seeds:

The most important thing to keep in mind for successful propagation is that you need to mimic the natural processes that cause seeds to germinate in the wild as closely as possible. Plants produce their seeds after flowering and then go through a long period of dormancy over the winter months. In order to get seeds to germinate you have to reproduce this long cold period of dormancy and this process is called stratification.

It is actually really easy to get native seeds to germinate – just do what nature does. Plants seeds in potting mixture in the fall and leave them outside for the winter. If this isn’t an option you can place seeds in damp potting soil in January and leave them in your fridge for a couple of months. This should ready the seeds for germination and you can start them growing outside once the weather warms up. We recommend letting nature do the work since it will take up less room in your fridge and it’s less to think about.

So, plant the seeds as a fun holiday activity and get ready for some beautiful native flowers the following spring and summer!

Using native plants in our gardens is a great way to increase biodiversity and preserve some of our natural heritage. If you have any questions about other sources of native plants or how to do more in your garden feel free to send us an e-mail at scb(at)biology.queensu.ca and we’ll do our best to help you out!

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New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae angliae)

New England Aster New England Aster New England Aster
  • blooms in early to late fall
  • bright blue or purple
  • important food source for migrating monarch butterflies
  • tall plant good for back edges of gardens
  • will spread once established
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Ox-Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)

Ox-Eye Sunflower Ox-Eye Sunflower Ox-Eye Sunflower
  • blooms yellow from late spring to early fall
  • tall plant good for back edges of gardens
  • looks nice in large stands
  • attracts some butterflies for nectar
  • will easily seed itself and form large thick stands
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Spiked Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Spiked Blazing Star Spiked Blazing Star Spiked Blazing Star
  • blooms mid summer to late summer – purple spikes
  • best planted singly as accent plant
  • flower stalk is tall but can be used as a foreground plant
  • good source of nectar
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Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly Milkweed Butterfly Milkweed Butterfly Milkweed
  • blooms late spring and early summer
  • flowers are bright orange
  • grows in clumps
  • attracts butterflies (both as a food source for caterpillars and nectaring for adults)
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Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Wild Bergamot Wild Bergamot Wild Bergamot
  • blooms in late spring and early summer – mauve blooms
  • member of the mint family
  • fragrant flowers
  • tall plant good for back edges of gardens
  • very nice planted in large stands
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Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Turtlehead Turtlehead Turtlehead
  • blooms in summer to early fall - white, often tinted with pink
  • member of the figwort family
  • grows to 2-3 feet in height
  • flowers are 1 to 1.5 inches long
  • does best in moist to wet soils
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Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa)

Bottle Gentian Bottle Gentian Bottle Gentian
  • blooms in late summer to late fall – dark blue to violet flowers
  • grows to 1-2 feet in height
  • pollinated by bumblebees
  • prefers full or partial sun, with moist soils
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Swamp Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Swamp Rose Mallow Swamp Rose Mallow Swamp Rose Mallow
  • blooms in summer to early fall – large pink flowers
  • member of the hibiscus family
  • attracts songbirds and hummingbirds
  • grows to 2-5 feet tall
  • prefers moist soils, but does well even in drier soils
  • its conservation status is special concern provincially and nationally
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Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia Great Blue Lobelia Great Blue Lobelia
  • blooms in early summer to fall – purple to blue
  • member of the bellflower family
  • attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
  • grows to 2-4 feet tall, with a sturdy stem
  • requires moist soil
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