Our native wildflower species – like milkweed, beebalm and yarrow – are pioneer plants. They co-evolved with our native pollinators and beneficial insects so that they are particularly attractive to bees, butterflies and other helpful creatures. Drawing these insects to your garden helps support healthy plant growth, as well as fruit and vegetable production. Wildflowers are part of the web that makes the garden work.
As Miriam G pointed out in the webinar, the best known insect-plant relationship is the one between Monarch butterflies and milkweed (Asclepias ssp). It is the decline in Monarchs that has helped to raise awareness of 'host plants' – native plants that provide food and habitat for specific beneficial insects.
You don't have a plant a whole meadow to get the benefit of wildflowers. And, the seeds are easy to grow. Two methods are used: the winter sowing method, usually required for germination of perennial plants and the direct sow method used for annual plants. (See related posts below.)
Wildflowers have successfully adapted to everything our soils and climate can throw at them; this alone makes them worthy of our attention. Of course, you do need to match the right plants to your growing conditions. I found the Seed Selector tool on the Wildflower Farm website quite helpful. Native plants are not just for sunny meadows; there are wildflowers that thrive in shade, in sandy locations and in clay soils.
There you have it. Will this be the year you add a wildflower species to your garden? Think how proud you will be if you grow the plants from seed.
Access the Wildflower Farm webinar
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For a list of native plants that grow successfully in Northwestern Ontario, visit the native wildflowers page at Eco-Superior.
Suggested Wildflower Seed Sources
Gardens North – Brockville ON
Prairie Originals – Manitoba native plant and seed grower
Wild about Flowers – specializing in native Alberta wildflower seeds and plants
Related Posts on There Blooms a Garden
Winter sowing and Winter sowing...revisited