Native plants are easy to grow, attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies, and thrive in the gardens and yards they are planted in. And best of all, they can be started by seed indoors in February and March or directly sown into your garden when the ground is ready to plant. Here is a cross-Canada list of where to find native, rare, local, heirloom and organic seeds.
North American Native Plant Society
Seed-sourced natives are still largely a niche in gardening. The North American Native Plant Society (NANPS) is a great place to start if you are interested in getting involved in this area of horticulture. Worth following online, NANPS hosts excursions, workshops, social events, seed exchanges and plant sales.
St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre
There has also been a growing industry of seed- sourced native-plant nurseries in Canada. Located in St. Williams, Ontario, the St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre bills itself as a “conservation nursery” that services the wholesale and ecological restoration trade. Established on the site of Canada’s first forestry station and seedling nursery, which dates back to 1908, the nursery picks up where the government left off, and it’s now on the leading edge for seed collection and propagation. Ecological restoration work starts with the right seeds.
Maajiigin Gumig Greenhouse
Also in southwestern Ontario, Aamjiwnaang First Nation joined forces in 2015 with a local non-profit called Return the Landscape, with the purpose of establishing the Maajiigin Gumig greenhouse. There, they produce more than 150 species of plants that are indigenous to the Sarnia-Lambton area, where they are based. The plants are grown from seeds collected on the Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s property, a refuge for many species at risk. Maajiigin Gumig supports the conservation of the environment and the preservation of knowledge by selling plants to the public on Thursdays as well as by supplying other nurseries.
Based in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (Brantford, Ontario), Kayanase Greenhouse is another Indigenous-owned and -operated nursery that combines science and traditional ecological knowledge to scout for seed and to nurture locally native plants. Many customers make the 90-minute drive from Toronto to visit the retail greenhouse and tour the traditional longhouse that shares the property. With a staff of certified seed collectors, Kayanase even offers customized pollinator-seed mixes on request.
Twin Sisters Native Plants Nursery
Twin Sisters Native Plants Nursery, at Moberly Lake, British Columbia, began propagating and distributing native plants in 2012. According to the website, “The purpose of the nursery is to propagate and distribute native plant species for ecological restoration and remediation of mining and other industrial projects while incorporating First Nations values and beliefs.”
Bow Point Nursery
Located near Calgary, Bow Point Nursery specializes in native plants that are bred and grown for Alberta’s climate. As explained on its website, Bow Point has hand-planted “a multitude of local, native shrubs and trees. As the years go by, these varieties are monitored for their health and resilience to disease, climatic changes, and soil conditions. It is from these resistant parents that seeds are selected for collection.”