Western tiger swallowtail

A western tiger swallowtail on Pacific ninebark. (Photo: Andrew Reding via Flickr)

Gardening with plants native to your area is a great way to support local biodiversity. They provide seeds and berries for birds and energy-rich nectar and protein-filled pollen for insects, like bees and butterflies. Native plants are also adapted to local climate and soils, so generally require less care and watering.

Here’s a list of some of the best native plants for gardens in the Lower Mainland and Victoria and throughout Western Canada.

Butterfly species native to Western Canada:

  • Western tiger swallowtail
  • Mourning cloak
  • Red admiral
  • Painted lady
  • Monarch
  • Cabbage white
  • Milbert’s tortoiseshell
  • Lorquin’s admiral
  • Sara orangetip
  • Woodland skipper
  • Cedar hairstreak

Pollinator-friendly plants native to Western Canada:

Nectar plants:

  • Canada goldenrod Solidago lepida
  • Douglas aster Symphyotrichum subspicatum
  • Woodland strawberry Fragaria vesca
  • Kinnikinnick Arctostaphylus uva-ursi
  • Pearly everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea
  • Western yarrow Achillea millefolium
  • Woolly sunflower Eriophyllum lanatum
  • Low Oregon grape Mahonia nervosa
  • Common camas Camassia quamash
  • Spring gold Lomatium utriculatum
  • Sea blush Plectritis congesta
  • Red columbine Aquilegia formosa
  • Gumweed Grindelia stricta
  • Broadleaf stonecrop Sedum spathulifolium
  • Mock orange Philadelphus lewisii

Host plants:

  • Pacific bleeding heart Dicentra Formosa
  • Oceanspray Holodiscus discolor
  • Pacific willow Salix lucida (Pacifica)
  • Chokecherry Prunus virginiana
  • Pacific ninebark Physocarpus capitatus
  • Cottonwood Populus trichocarpa
  • Stinging nettle (native) Urtica dioica ssp gracilis
  • Saskatoon serviceberry Amelanchier alnifolia
  • Hardhack (rose spirea) Spiraea douglasii
  • Showy milkweed Asclepias speciosa

Herbs for bees and butterflies:

  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Balm

The best native plants for gardens in the Lower Mainland and Victoria:

Pollinators LOVE city life! With the wide range of flowers they offer, home and community gardens are among bees’ and butterflies’ favourite places to hang out. City folk just need to plant what pollinators need for food and shelter. Check out this illustrated guide of butterflies and plants to support them: