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The Raymar Blog

The Best Plants For the Niagara Region

Posted on November 24, 2021 
by Dan Wanders

It’s human nature to want to surround ourselves with beautiful things — and our gardens are no exception. But choosing which plants, trees and shrubs to include in your landscape can be challenging — especially since not all the plants in the local nursery are suitable for the climate here in Niagara.

There are many factors to consider when planning your garden, and having a garden design is a good first step. Once your plan is in place the real fun begins…choosing the plants, trees and shrubs that will make your garden come to life!

But before you head off to the nursery, I’ll share a brief overview of the basic things you need to know before choosing your plants, and which plants we recommend to our clients.

Backyard showing a natural garden.

What is the plant’s hardiness zone?

Hardiness zones are geographic areas, divided by climate, that help determine which plants grow best in any given location. Simply put, a plant’s hardiness zone will determine if it can survive the winter in your location.

Your landscape designer will be able to help you identify which zone your garden is in.

Backyard natural garden.

The benefits of using native plants

Having a naturalized landscape has a lot of benefits — they eliminate the need for chemical lawn treatments, reduce lawn care, attract local wildlife and allow natural species to survive.

But if you’re not ready to have a yard that’s completely naturalized, or you prefer a different garden design style, you can still include a variety of natural trees, plants and shrubs in your garden.

Exotic plants from around the world may be beautiful — but so are our native species. There are many reliable, drought-tolerant species that support biodiversity, so you can create your own little wildlife oasis.

Brown-eyed susan flower.

Best native annuals for the Niagara Region

There are two great native annuals for Ontario gardens — and if conditions are right and they’re allowed to go to seed, they may germinate for you in the spring.

  • Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) — Rudbeckia are adaptable and resilient and will not be deterred by neglect or other challenging conditions. This native wildflower looks best in mass plantings — and their daisy-like yellow blossoms will grace your garden from June to October. They’re great for pollinators, supporting birds, bees and butterflies.
  • Biennial Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Evening Primrose is a biennial, meaning it completes its life cycle in two years. The first year it forms a flat circle of leaves in the fall, and you are rewarded with showy, fragrant blooms from early summer until late fall the following year. The bowl-shaped, lemon-scented flowers are not only beautiful — they are edible and add pizzaz to your salads!

They are disease, insect and deer-resistant and provide food for birds, bees, butterflies and moths.

Joe Pye Weed plant.

Best perennials for the Niagara Region

  • Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.) — also known as “Dutchman’s breeches” is actually an herb is one of the most bulletproof plants for dry shade. The greenish-white flowers dangle beneath gracefully arching stems and will bloom from late spring to early summer (but the beautiful foliage remains).
  • Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) — If you have a rain garden, natural swimming pool or some other damp area on your property Joe Pye Weed will give you a great burst of stunning, late-season colour. The tiny, vanilla-scented, pinkish-purple flowers bloom from mid-summer to early fall — and the butterflies go ga-ga over it!
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) — Switchgrass does well in any soil, even the heavy clay that plagues many gardeners in the Niagara Region. It’s as source of food for songbirds and provides winter/early spring cover for wildlife. It also adds visual interest to barren winter gardens.
  • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) — Little bluestem is another grass that’ll spruce up your winter garden. It’s an ornamental bunchgrass with fine foliage and blue-green stems that turn mahogany-red in the fall.
  • Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Marsh Milkweed (A. incarnata) — Little bluestem is another grass that’ll spruce up your winter garden. It’s an ornamental bunchgrass with fine foliage and blue-green stems that turn mahogany-red in the fall.

The list of great native plants is a long one and I could go on for quite a few more pages — but maybe I’ll save them for another post!

Newly planted plants in a backyard.

Now for a few garden design basics…

When you’re designing your garden, it’s best to follow a few simple “rules”:

  • Plant in groups of 3, 5 or 7 for visual impact. Odd numbers always look more natural than even plantings, and are known as “drifts.” Avoid planting just one of any particular species (unless we’re talking about shrubs).
  • When planting, don’t just think about the blooms. Flowers come and go, so make sure you have a variety of different textures in your landscape to break it up.
  • Don’t forget to add trees, plants and shrubs that are visually interesting in the winter — it’s a crazy-long season, so you’ll need something good to look at!
  • Don’t “over-clean” your garden in the fall — it’s better to wait until spring to cut down the garden.

Great gardens do more than add “curb-appeal” and value to your home — they’re good for the environment, pollinators and other wildlife. They’re also good for your soul.

Employee planting new plants in a landscape.

Looking for help choosing the right plants for your garden?

Choosing the best plants for your garden can be a lot of fun, but as you can see, there are TONS to choose from! (I only listed a VERY few of my favourites).

If you’d like some help with your landscape design, including help choosing which plants are best for your property, give us a call or fill out our online form.

We’d be delighted to help you design and create your perfect landscape!