Spring Clean Up



I trying to grow a native garden and I have a couple of questions on maintenance for spring. What do I do to help them grow in spring? I will be adding a layer of compost to the surface of the soil but I’m not sure what do to after that. Should I trim the plants? To how low?

Examples of plants I have are Boneset, bee balm, Joe pye weed, swamp milkweed, common goldenrod, evening primrose, blue vervain, Virginia mountain mint, a couple of asters, obedient plant, golden ragwort, a native climbing rose, coneflowers, and a native fern.

They are pretty young and short. We planted them just last spring up until June 2022. Any advice is much appreciated, thank you!

An additional question is can I cold stratify swamp mildweed seeds now? And can I do it but leaving it outside in a container?

Thank you!



Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners;

Excellent choice of soil amendment that you have provided for the new garden. This past summer was dry: if you have watered well in the fall, along with the compost amendment, the new plants will have established strong roots for this coming spring. The native plants you have listed are resilient, easy care and mostly free of diseases. The native fern and native rose are the  ones I would keep an eye on this spring.  Boneset, Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed, Swamp Milkweed, Common Goldenrod, Evening Primrose, Blue Vervain, Virginia Mountain Mint, Golden Ragwort and Cone Flowers are easy once they are  established. They can grow well even in tough conditions and will quickly spread and multiply. They all  prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade. They tolerate drought well, once established.

This website provides instructions, planting locations and maintaining ferns in  your yard Hardy Garden Ferns

We assume your native rose is Rosa Rugosa, which is maintenance free and does not require pruning other than what you prefer to shape. Our Master Gardener website provides the following advice on Rosa Rugosa: Rosa Rugosa

Uncover the native plants in April by brushing aside any leaves to provide the opportunity for new shoots. Again most all the plants you have chosen do not sprout early spring.

Being a relatively young garden, waiting until early May before cleaning up would be ideal choice, especially if you are growing a native garden. There are many insects overwintering on native plants, leaves, hollow plant stems and other plant debris. The spring insects will be food for the hatched baby birds. Leave your seeds and stems tall and proud until May.

For Swamp Milkweed Seeds our website offers the following advice: Starting Seeds

Swamp Milkweed is a 30-day cold stratification period. I do not advise planting and placing outdoors, as there is less control due to temperature fluctuation. The Save the Monarchs website has a step-by-step on how to stratify different varieties of Milkweed. Cold Stratifying Milkweed

Thank you for choosing to grow native plants.