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Seed List

This is the Seed List for 2019 – seed collected in 2018 from the Return of the Native property (or other nearby private property). Some wild collected, as noted.

Link to Plant List, if that's what you're looking for.

Updated November 19 2018, some more seed still to be added, should be done in a few days....

Cost is $3 per packet, four for $10, plus 50 cents per packet for postage, to a maximum of $3 postage. To order, either email list of desired seeds and do an E-transfer to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or postal mail your list, and a cheque made out to Kate Harries, to Return of the Native, 1186 Flos Road 10 East, Elmvale ON L0L 1P0. Be sure to include your postal address. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 705-322-2545 if you need more information or wish to drop by to pick up some seeds in person.

The world of germination can be complex. We’re not talking radishes here. It can be hard to get some native plant seed to germinate – which is why the range of commercially available natives is limited. Simplest, to seed outside in fall, either in the ground or in pots sunk into the ground. If you're doing it indoors, be aware that some (not all) native seeds require a period (usually 30 to 90 days) of cold (stratification) to unlock dormancy. Some just need time. Here’s a short primer on how to simulate winter and related issues: Some tips on germination. The Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society has the best advice on germination and it has an entry for every plant I've ever entered in its search engine. If you're ordering in spring, you won't have time to do the cold treatment, so choose the ones I've listed as 'warm germinators.'

Annuals / Biennials

Cirsium discolor – Field Thistle
Up to 2 metres. Native thistles are becoming rare on our landscape. Large flowers and abundant nectar attract pollinators, the seed is enjoyed by birds. Purple flower heads consisting of many narrow tubeshaped flowers appear from July to September. A biennial or short-leaved perennial, self-seeds readily on open soil. A warning: From August onwards, this plant starts to look the worse for wear. The bees still love it! but it's not for the gardener with conventional aesthetic standards. Full sun, accommodates to a wide range of soil conditions.

Echinocystis lobata - Wild Cucumber
Climbing vine. Not edible. Deeply lobed leaves, curly tendrils, fragrant frothy white flowers in August that attract pollinators, interesting prickly seedpods that dry out to a delicate filigree. Self-seeds readily, squash-like seedlings are easy to spot in early spring and pull out where not wanted. Cold moist stratification.

Nicotiana rustica - Aztec Tobacco
Up to 1 m. Non-native to Ontario, another South American tropical that made its way north centuries ago and was tended by the indigenous people of our area. The originating seed is said to come from a 1,000-year-old burial site in the Great Lakes area. More of the story. A handsome plant with broad leaves and clusters of greenish-white flowers, one of the four medicine plants of indigenous cultures. Here’s a link to a Six Nations site for cultivation information. Warm germinator, needs light.

Oenothera biennis - Evening Primrose
60 cm – 1m. This is a biennial plant, which means it doesn’t flower until its second year. A member of an important family for pollinators. Blooms June to October, reseeds readily so once you have it, you have it. The yellow lemon-scented flowers open in the evening and close at noon, they are visited by night-flying insects like the large sphinx moths that resemble hummingbirds. The native evening-primrose lasioglossum bee is an Oenothera specialist and will collect pollen only from plants of this family – it depends for survival on the presence of Evening Primrose. Full sun, average soil. Warm germinator.


Agastache foeniculum – Giant Blue Hyssop
60 to 120 cm. Perennial. Member of the mint family. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to these erect spikes of fragrant lavender flowers with licorice-scented leaves. Flowers are edible and can be crumbled into a salad, leaves make a great tea. Grows into effective clumps. One of the last plants to stay in flower in fall, providing sustenance for late pollinators. Sun or part shade. Easy warm germinator.

Ageratina altissima var. altissima – White Snakeroot
30 to 90 cm - Showy white flowers in July-October attract a variety of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. Part shade. Average soil conditions. Cold, moist stratification.

Allium cernuum - Wild Nodding Onion
20-60 cm. A stand-out among members of the onion family that are grown for their decorative flowers. Nodding white-pink flowers in July-August. Attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees. Full sun, average soil conditions. Cold moist stratification.

Asclepias incarnata - Swamp Milkweed
Up to 120 cm. Also known as Rose Milkweed. One of several milkweeds native to Ontario, this one is particularly beautiful, with a round cluster of pale and dark pink blooms in June-July. It doesn't spread with underground runners like Common Milkweed. Host to the Monarch butterfly. A wetland plant, it prefers moisture in the soil. Sun or part shade. Cold moist stratification. Seed needs light to germinate.

Asclepias syriaca – Common Milkweed
Can grow to 120 cm. Spreads - although in a naturalized setting it will be outcompeted by more vigorous plants like goldenrod spp. A beautiful plant with fragrant dusky-pink flowers held in drooping globes from June-August. Attracts a wide variety of pollinators and is host (caterpillars can digest the leaves) to the Monarch butterfly. Dry to moist soil conditions, sun or shade. Warm germinator. Seed needs light to germinate.

Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed
40-80 cm. Brilliant orange flowers from June to September make this a most desirable garden plant. Clump-forming - doesn't send out underground runners, but does form a large taproot, making transplanting difficult. Drought-tolerant. Late to break dormancy. Host to the Monarch butterfly. Sun or part-shade. Warm germinator. Seed needs light to germinate.

Coreopsis grandiflora – Large-flowered Tickseed
Sprawling plant with great large yellow daisy-like flowers, bloom from May to September, attracts pollinators, tolerates poor soil, even sand, drought-tolerant. Easy warm germinator.

Doellingeria umbellata - Flat-topped White Aster
1-1.5m Also known as Tall White Aster, an elegant plant with a flat-topped cluster of white flowers and a rigid, often purplish stem. The lance-shaped leaves have prominent veins on the underside and feel smooth when stroked away from the stem, rough when stroked backwards. Attracts many pollinators. Full or part sun, moist soil. Cold moist stratification.

Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower
1.2 m A classic: large pink daisy-like flowers with reflexed petals and bronze centres on erect stems up to three feet tall. One of the joys of an Ontario summer. Visited by many pollinators, including hummingbirds. Sun or dappled shade. Easy warm germinator.

Eupatorium perfoliatum – Common Boneset
100-160 cm Showy clusters of white flowers really brighten up a shady spot. Leaves are "perfoliated," meaning they clasp the stem. This made it a folk remedy, based on the idea that a poultice of this plant could help broken bones knit together. Blooms August-October. Pollinator plant. Shade, part shade. Warm germinator.

Eutrochium purpureum – Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed
120 cm A good Joe-Pye for many garden situations, because it is not as tall and - a woodland plant - it grows in drier conditions than Spotted Joe Pye. The flowers are pinker, the stem is purple, at the joints or all the way up. Similarly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators, with seeds much enjoyed by the white-crowned and white-throated sparrows.

Eurybia macrophylla - Large-leaved Aster
Approx 80 cm Large white flowers in flat-topped flower heads, mainly white, some with tinges of blue or lavender. Blooms in August-September. Holds its own against weeds in naturalization projects. Shade or part shade.

Helianthus divaricatus - Woodland Sunflower
90 cm plus Bright yellow daisy-like flowers, about 4 cm across, from July to September. Grows in dry shade and attracts a variety of pollinators, which makes it a useful plant for the woodland garden. Larval host for the Silvery Checkerspot, Gorgon Checkerspot and Painted Lady butterflies. Spreads by underground rhizomes, so can be aggressive, but less so if grown in shade.

Helenium autumnale – Helen's Flower
60-100 cm. Also known as Sneezeweed (the dried leaves were once used as snuff). Clumps of attractive yellow daisy-like flowers with recessed petals in August-September, attracts bees and butterflies. Full sun or part shade, accommodates to a variety of soils, prefer moist. Warm germinator.

Liatris spicata - Dense Blazingstar
30-60 cm. Perennial. Spikes of blue-violet flowers from July-November attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees. A tall grass prairie plant that is threatened in the wild by habitat loss. Full sun. Moist conditions preferred. Warm germinator.

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower
Scarlet flowers on spikes up to a metre tall from July-September. Needs moist conditions – an excellent edge of water plant. Pollinated by hummingbirds. Short-lived perennial, worth growing as an annual for the the sheer brilliance of its red. Cold moist stratification.

Lobelia siphilitica - Great Blue Lobelia
Up to 90 cm Clump-forming perennial with dense spikes of clear blue tubular flowers from August-October. Attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies. Part sun, average to moist soil. Warm germinator.

Monarda punctata – Beebalm
30-60 cm Also known as Horsemint. Quite the stunner! All the way up the stem, collars of showy light pink, lavender or nearly white leafy bracts underlie whorls of yellowish, maroon-spotted, tubular flowers. Aromatic foliage can be used for tea. Ontario Wildflowers offers this advice: “A plant for really hot and dry areas. It requires open sandy soil to be happy and reseed, since it is short lived. Because it is rare (it is only found in two places in the wild in Ontario) it should not be planted in the wild.” * Pollinator plant - the beautiful Great Golden Digger Wasp is one of its visitors.

Penstemon digitalis – Foxglove Beardtongue
75 – 90 cm. Perennial. Penstemons are among North America’s most beautiful flowering species. This one has clusters of white tubular flowers from May to July that attract hummingbirds. It's not a member of the foxglove family. Clump-forming, drought tolerant, sun or part sun/shade, average soils. Cold treatment required (30 days). Seed needs light to germinate.

Physostegia virginiana - Obedient Plant
100-130 cm Mauve or white flower spikes. So named because the flowers can be bent into position and will stay that way for a while. Another name is False Dragonhead. An underrated plant that is very effective at the back of the border and is always buzzing with pollinators - hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, etc. Spreads but relatively easy to control as it is shallow rooted. Warm germinator.

Ratibida pinnata - Grey-headed Coneflower
50-150 cm A tall plant of South-western Ontario’s tall grass prairie. Blooms June-September. Showy flower - with a prominent central disk, which is initially light green or gray and later turns dark brown, and extremely reflexed yellow petals. Attracts birds, butterflies, bees. Thrives in dry soil, excellent for xeriscaping. Sun or part shade. Cold moist stratification.

Ruellia humilis - Wild Petunia
30 to 50 cm Pale lilac petunia-shaped flowers from May to October make this plant a stand-out. Leaves and stems are hairy. Native to points south of the Great Lakes (USDA map). Full sun to part shade, Flourishes in dry conditions, adaptable to any type of soil. 10 cm tall. Cold moist stratification.

Silphium perfoliatum - Cup Plant
One of the tallest native perennials – 2 to 2.5 m. Showy yellow daisy-type flowers from July-October. Drought tolerant.Leaves clasp the stem to make a cup that hold rainwater for several days where it is used by songbirds, butterflies and other insects. Develops deep roots. Accommodates to a variety of soils. Sun. Cold moist stratification.

Solidago caesia - Blue-stemmed Goldenrod
30-90 cm. An elegant plant, blooms September to end of season. Yellow flowers appear in clusters along the wiry, often blue-green, stalks. Attracts birds, butterflies, bees. Does not spread aggressively. Dry to average moisture in loamy soil (forest floor conditions). Shade or partial shade. Warm germinator.

Verbena stricta - Hoary Vervain
60-90 cm A standout showy vervain with spikes of large blue or purple flowers in July-August and hairy leaves. A preferred nectar plant for butterflies and bees. Flourishes in arid conditions - needs sun and sandy or dry soil. Drought tolerant. (Very different habitat requirements to those of Blue Vervain, which prefers more loamy moist conditions). Cold moist stratification. 

Vernonia gigantea – Tall Ironweed
1-2 m. Perennial. Central stem topped by clusters of lovely purple flowers that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Birds feed on the rust-coloured seed heads. Full sun to part shade, accommodates to a variety of soil conditions. Cold moist stratification.


Chasmanthium latifolium – Northern Sea Oats
A lovely grass with arching panicles of flat drooping spikelets in late summer that start a light green and turn a purplish bronze in fall. Great in dried flower arrangements. Leave foliage in place over winter to add interest and protect crowns from cold. Self-seeds and spreads vigorously by underground rhizomes. Prefers partial shade, moist conditions, but does fine and is less prone to spreading if planted in full sun. Warm germinator.

Sorghastrum nutans – Indian Grass
Up to 2 m. Perennial. A dramatically beautiful tall grass prairie plant, with bronze spikelets in June from which tiny golden flowers depend. Deep-rooted, clump-forming, great fall colour and continuing winter interest. Major wildlife value – various species of grasshopper (an important food for many songbirds) feed on the foliage. Birds consume the seeds and use the foliage for nesting material and cover. Sun. Accommodates to a variety of soils. Warm germinator.


Clematis virginiana - Virgin’s Bower
Up to 6 m Woody vine with clusters of pretty white flowers from June to September and fluffy seedheads that persist to provide winter interest. Prefers moist soil in sun or part shade. Warm germinator according to Ontario Rock Garden Society (see link above). Others sugges cold treatment.