Return of the Native - About Us

Latest Blog Posts

Get Blog Updates

What is 10 minus 5?

Books For Sale

Seed List

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.

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.

An earlier version of this list included seeds that need winter, either outside or, artificially, in the fridge. It's late to start those more complex seeds, so the list has been pruned down those that simply need light, warmth and moisture to germinate.

INDOORS GERMINATION The seeds can be started in pots indoors in April or early May to be planted out at the end of May or in June. Sprinkle on top of soil and keep moist. Before planting out in the ground, be sure to acclimatize the seedlings to the higher light levels, wind and fluctuating temperatures outside. This is achieved by putting the seedlings in their pots out in an area protected from wind and strong sun, starting with just a couple of hours, and stepping it up over the next 10 days until they can be planted.

OUTSIDE SEEDING Once spring is sprung, sprinkle the seed on the ground where you want the plants to grow. Both seeds and plants are hardy and the seedlings will not be bothered by swings in temperature if started outside.

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. 

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. 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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Monarda punctata – Spotted Beebalm
30-60 cm Also known as Spotted or Dotted Horsemint. Rosettes of cream-coloured, maroon-spotted, tubular flowers occur in whorls, forming 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 can be used for tea. Drought-tolerant pollinator plant. The Great Golden Digger Wasp is one of its visitors.

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. 


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.  

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.