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Seed List

UPDATED March 17 2020

This is the Seed List for 2020 – seed collected in 2019 from the Return of the Native property or nearby. 

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

Cost of seed 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.. Be sure to include your own postal address. Or postal mail your list, with 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 own 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. It can be hard to get some native plant seed to break dormancy – which is why the range of commercially available natives has been 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 of cold (stratification) to unlock dormancy. Here’s a short primer to find out how to simulate winter: Some tips on germination. The Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society has the best advice on germination - in this list, I've added a link to that site for information on any plants that need manipulation of temperature or other factors. Those that are straighforward are described as 'warm germinators,' which means that they will germinate at 20 C, so start inside or seed outside either in fall (the seed will remain viable in the ground through sub-zero temperatures) or in the spring. 

Annuals / Biennials

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 more information. Warm germinator. Link 

Oenothera biennis - Evening Primrose 

60 cm – 1m. This is a biennial plant, which means it doesn’t flower until its second year. The native evening-primrose lasioglossum bee is an Oenothera specialist and will collect pollen only from plants of this family –  Full sun, average soil. Warm germinator.


Agastache foeniculum – Anise 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. 

Aquilegia canadensis - Wild Columbine 
30-80 cm Beauty! Tubular red and yellow petals, flat red sepals and long spurs with yellow anthers. Attractive green foliage. Pollinated by hummingbirds and long-tongued bumble bees. 3 weeks cold moist stratification. Link 

Asclepias syriaca – Common Milkweed

80-100 cm Fragrant dusky pink flowers held in drooping globes from end of June to early August. Attracts a wide variety of pollinators and is host to the Monarch butterfly. Dry to moist soil conditions, sun or shade. Warm germinator. UPDATE: Soak seed in water 24 hours, place on paper towel in baggie at room temperature.* 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. UPDATE: Soak seed in water 24 hours, place on paper towel in baggie at room temperature.* Seed needs light to germinate.


Baptisia australis - Blue False Indigo
90-120 cm Deep indigo-blue lupine-like flowers, followed by interesting charcoal-black seedpods. Blue-green foliage stays fresh and attractive all season. A long-lived plant that's slow to mature. Full sun, average soil. Warm germinator. Link

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.  

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.

Eryngium yuccifolium - Rattlesnake Master
1.2 m Also known as Burning Bush. Looks like a desert plant but is perfectly hardy in Huronia. Spiny-edged leaves and lovely pale green bristly flowerhead globes that attract pollinators late into the fall. 60-90 days cold stratification.

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. Blooms August-October. Shade, part shade. Warm germinator. Link

Eutrochium maculatum – Spotted Joe Pye Weed
180 cm plus Formerly known as Eupatorium maculatum. A tall plant wetland overed with a cloud of dusky pink flowers in July and August. Attracts pollinators, birds. Accommodates to a variety of soils. 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. Warm germinator

Helenium autumnale – Helen's Flower 

60-100 cm. Also known as Common 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.

Helenium flexuosum - Purple-headed Sneezeweed 
45-90cm. Looks like Helen's Flower, but a little shorter, and distinguished by its decorative purple flower centres. Prefers moisture. Warm germinator. Seed not locally gathered. Not considered native in our area, the USDA map shows it to be widespread south of the Great Lakes

Hypericum ascyron - Giant St. John's Wort 

70 cm Robust shrub-like perennial with large yellow flowers bearing many stamens that produce large quantities of pollen (no nectar); attracts bees and butterflies. Warm 6 weeks, cold six weeks and slowly back to warm. Link

Iris versicolor – Northern Blue Flag Iris
60-90 cm A plant for the edge of the pond, strappy foliage, elegant blue flowers with a yellow highlight, blooms from May to August. Attracts bees, hummingbirds. 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. Fascinating for the sheer brilliance of its red. Warm germinator. Link 

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.

Mimulus ringens - Monkey Flower
60-100 cm Bushy plant with pretty mauve flowers that bloom for about a month some time from late June to mid-August. Needs consistent moisture, good for a rain or bog garden. Sun. Warm germinator.

Monarda fistulosa – Wild Bergamot Beebalm
60-80 cm approx Soft mauve flowers, sweetly scented, attractive to pollinators - bees (including its own specialist bee Dufourea monardae), butterflies and hummingbirds. A Xerces Society favourite. Flowers all summer long. Warm germinator. Seed needs light to germinate. 

Monarda punctata - Spotted Beebalm
30-60 cm Whorls of cream, maroon-spotted, tubular flowers form a dense, elongated spike at the end of the stem or from leaf axils, each whorl resting on conspicuous, light pink to lavender leafy bracts. Aromatic foliage, drought tolerant. Warm germinator

Penstemon digitalis – Foxglove Beardtongue 

75 – 90 cm. White tubular flowers from May to July. It's not a member of the foxglove family. Clump-forming, drought tolerant, sun or part sun/shade, average soils. Warm germinator. Link 

Physostegia virginiana - Obedient Plant
100-130 cm Mauve or white flower spikes. Another name is False Dragonhead. An underrated plant that is very effective at the back of the border and is always buzzing with pollinators. Spreads but relatively easy to control as it is shallow rooted. Warm germinator.

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. Link 

Scrophularia marilandica - Carpenter’s Square
60-150 cm AKA Eastern or Late Figwort. Exceptionally abundant nectar makes it very attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. Panicles of small dark red cup-like flowers bloom July through Octobe. Full sun or uop to 70% shade. 60 days cold 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.

Verbena hastata – Blue Vervain
60-180 cm Candelabra-like inflorescences of slender spikes of purple-blue flowers. Attracts butterflies and bees. Sun, average to poor soil, needs some moisture. Link

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. Link

Vernonia gigantea – Tall Ironweed 

1-2 m. 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. Link. 

Veronicastrum virginicum - Culver's Root
70-160 cm Beautiful accent plant. Tall unbranched stems bearing white candelabra-like flower spikes from mid-summer to fall. Leaves arranged in whorls around the stem. Shade or part-sun, part-shade, moist to average soil. Link

Zizia aurea – Golden Alexanders
Up to 75 cm. Brilliant yellow flower umbels in May and June resemble Queen Anne's LaceAttracts pollinators. Drought tolerant. Sun or part shade, grows in a wide range of soils. Link 


Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem
140-180 m. Also known as Turkeyfoot. One of the dominant species of the North American tallgrass prairie. Highly ornamental with grey-green foliage turning bronze-red in autumn. Supports insects, birds. Drought-tolerant. Full sun to part shade, accommodates to a wide variety of soils. Warm germinator. 

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.

Elymus canadensis – Canada Wild Rye
120 cm A native grass that grows in riparian woodlands, many types of forest, lakeside sand dunes, and tallgrass prairie. Arching stems are weighted by the nodding, whiskery inflorescences that appear in August. Full to part sun. Accommodates to a variety of soil conditions. Warm germinator

Panicum virgatum - Switchgrass 
70 cm A plant of the tallgrass prairie in Ontario, adaptable to many soil types and conditions, used for sand dune stabilization, soil erosion control and wildlife habitat. Delicate airy panicles turn bronze in fall. Warm germinator 

Sorghastrum nutans – Indian Grass 

Up to 2 m. 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. 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. Average to moist soil in sun or part shade. Link