The best plants for a meadow garden

The top species hat will thrive in meadows

By Lorraine JohnsonLorraine Johnson

Meadow garden

Sunflowers add a splash of colour.

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For Loam (also does well in sand)

• wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): 60–90 cm, lavender flowers mid-summer, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

• sky blue aster (Aster azureus): 30–120 cm, gorgeous blue flowers in late summer through autumn

• ox-eye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides): 60–150 cm, yellow flowers in summer, attracts butterflies, self-seeds

• nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum): 30–60 cm, pink or white hanging flowers early to mid-summer

• pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida): 60–120 cm, purple flowers early to mid-summer, attracts butterflies

• stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida): 30–120 cm, masses of yellow flowers in late summer to fall, not invasive

• blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium): 30 cm, deep-blue flowers with yellow centre in late spring/early summer, grasslike leaves

• little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium): 45–75 cm, clump-forming grass, turns bronze in autumn

For Moist Areas

• Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis): 30–60 cm, white flower in early summer, spreads rapidly

• cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis): 60–120 cm, intense scarlet flowers in mid- to late summer, attracts hummingbirds

• turtlehead (Chelone glabra): 30–90 cm, white flowers in late summer, look like turtleheads

• blue flag iris (Iris versicolor): 30–90 cm, blue flowers in late spring/early summer, spiky leaves

• spotted Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum): 60–180 cm, clusters of purple-pink flowers from mid-summer to fall, whorled leaves

• swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): 90–120 cm, purple-pink flower clusters in summer, fragrant, attracts butterflies

For Clay (also does well in sand)

• lavender hyssop (Agastache foeniculum): 60–120 cm, violet-blue flowers in spikes, attracts butterflies

• showy tick trefoil (Desmodium canadense): 60–150 cm, pinky-purple pea-like flowers

• golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea): 30–90 cm, small, bright yellow flowers in late spring to early summer, purple seed pods

• New England aster (Aster novae-angliae): 90–150 cm, violet-purple flowers late summer through fall, attracts butterflies

For Dry, Sandy Soil

• butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa): 30–90 cm, intense-orange flowers mid-summer, host plant for monarch butterfly

• lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata): 30–60 cm, glowing yellow flowers in summer, deadhead to extend bloom

• black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): 60–90 cm, yellow daisy-like flowers in summer, self-seeds

• hoary vervain (Verbena stricta): 30–90 cm, spike with purplish-blue flowers in summer, self-seeds

• rough blazing star (Liatris aspera): 8–40 cm, spike of purple flowers in summer, attracts butterflies

• purple prairie clover (Petalostemum purpureum): 30–60 cm, brilliant purple, thimble-like flowers in early to mid-summer, fixes nitrogen in the soil

• prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis): 30–60 cm, graceful, narrow-leaved grass, bronze in autumn

• three-toothed cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata): 10–20 cm, low-growing shrub, evergreen, white flowers in mid-summer, shiny foliage

• pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea): 10–90 cm, masses of white flowers mid- to late summer, host plant for American painted lady butterfly

For photos of these and other plants, refer to these websites:

Ontario Wildflowers

North American Native Plant Society

This article was originally published on May 14, 2003


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