spreading native plant for Zone 5


I’m looking for native plants that spread quickly for a high clay content backyard in Toronto. Both sunny and shady areas are under consideration for this. My preference is for low-growing however this is not structly a requirement.


Congratulations on wanting to grow native. The benefits of gardening with native plants are many including: attracting native pollinators and birds, easy maintenance and helping to conserve our natural heritage for future generations.

You would do well to grow native plants that attract pollinators such as monarchs and bees, as they are as essential to most flowering plants as light, water and good soil. There are many information sources on line with in depth information on which native plants to grow where including:  Missouri Botanical Garden’s Best Plants for Problem Clay Soil, 

The City of Guelph at Native Gardens has a list of plants native to southern Ontario for full sun  and full shade along with sample garden designs.

There is also a wealth of information on native plants on our website: Native Plants 

The following list of natives is from one of our archived posts:

Full Sun


Anaphalis margaritacea, Pearly Everlasting
Asclepias tuberosa, Butterflyweed
Aster novae-angliae, New England Aster
Campanula rotundifolia,Bluebells/Harebells
Chamerion angustifolium, Fireweed
Coreopsis lanceoleolata, Lance-leaf Coreopsis
Desmodium canadense, Showy Tick Trefoil
Echinacea pallida, Pale Purple Coneflower
Euphorbia corollata, Flowering Spurge
Fragaria virginiana, Wild Strawberry
Geum triflorum, Prairie Smoke
Liatris aspera, Rough Blazing-star
Lupinus perennis, Wild Lupine
Oenothera biennis, Evening Primrose
Ratibida pinnata, Yellow Coneflower
Silpium laciniatum, Compass-plant

Solidago speciosa, Showy Goldenrod
Verbena stricta, Hoary Vervain

Part Sun/Shade


Allium cernuum, Nodding Wild Onion
Aster laevis, Smooth Blue Aster
Aster oolentangiensis, Sky Blue Aster
Campanula americana, Tall Bellflower
Coreopsis tripteris, Tall Coreopsis
Desmodium canadense, Showy Ticktrefoil
Heliopsis helianthoides, False Sunflower
Maianthemum stellatum, Starry False Solomon’s Seal
Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot
Penstemon digitalis, Foxglove Beardtongue
Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan
Tradescantia ohioensis, Ohio Spiderwort
Vernonia missurica, Ironweed


Actaea rubra, Red Baneberry
Anemone Canadensis, Canada Anemone
Asarum canadense, Wild Ginger
Aster macrophyllus, Large-leaf Aster
Aquilegia canadensis, Canadian Columbine
Frageria virginiana, Wild Strawberry
Geranium maculatum, Wild Geranium
Helianthus divaricatus, Woodland Sunflower
Maianthemum racemosum, False Solomon’s-seal
Podophyllum peltatum, Mayapple
Polygonatum biflorum, Soloman’s Seal
Phlox divaricata, Wild Blue Phlox
Solidago flexicaulis, Zig Zag Goldenrod
Virgin’s Bower, Clematis virginiana

Other sites with downloadable brochures which could be helpful to you are:

Native Species List from Halton Master Gardeners

How to Buy Native Plants

Grow Me Instead

Happy Planting!