Some plants have not come back yet



My garden is located at north east Scarborough. The soil seems to be compacted clay but I have been amending it with compost and mulch. I am trying to grow a native garden, it’s quite young, only two years old. Most of my plants have come back this year but a few haven’t, I was wondering why that is even though they came back spring of last year. The plants are swamp milkweed, lady fern, and joe pye weed. And two plants that I planted last year that seemed healthy and flowered have not come back either, boneset and obedient plant. Even my evening primrose has not come back even though it is supposed to easily self seed. Do these plants just sprout later? Does this indicate they are dead? What can I do to help them? Any and all advice is appreciated, thank you.


Thank you for your questions to Master Gardeners.

How great that you have started a native garden. From my own experience of having my own pollinator garden, Swamp Milkweed and Joe Pye weed are usually slow to sprout in the spring. Presently, April 18/2023,  in my Toronto garden, I have no sign of Swamp Milkweed, Joe Pye weed, Lady Fern, nor Evening primrose. Whereas, Bloodroot, Columbine, and Wild Ginger are already sprouting. So in answer to your question when do plants sprout, in my experience plants sprout at different times. And it is absolutely too early in the season to assume any plants are dead. So do give them more time. It’s understandable that we can lose patience in waiting for perennials to sprout given the unseasonably warm weather so early in April 2023.

I’m including an article on Dormancy. Plants in our garden may look dead, but there is so much going on behind the scenes.

Here’s another article:  Native plants and pollinators.   How to ensure your native plants will support the life cycle of pollinators.

Another article on Dormancy

Hope all this helps. Wishing you a great gardening season.