North American Plants To
Include In Your
The following plants are very easy to take
care of and require very little watering assuming the season gets an average amount of rainfall. They are
wonderful plants to include in a therapeutic garden because you can do research on interesting aspects of the
plants and share the information that you find to broaden peoples’ knowledge and appreciation for the plants
and the land that they grow on.
For instance, you can find information
- Growth habit of the plant (its characteristics such as colour of flowers, when it flowers,
what general form it has, how tall it grows, etc).
- Growing requirements (how much sunlight it needs, what type of soil is
- How to propagate the plant.
- Its medicinal properties (make sure you let people know to see a reputable herbalist if they
are interested in using the plant for its medicinal properties).
- How the plant interacts with creatures like birds and insects in the
- How the plant was/is used by indigenous peoples of the area.
- Interesting facts like where the plant got its name.
- Other plant uses (good flower to dry and use in arrangements,
Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Weed
Butterfly weed adds cheerful bright orange flowers to the garden
in mid-summer. It prefers dry sandy, well drained soil. It grows 1-3 feet tall in full sun or light shade. If
given lots of room, the plant will spread out horizontally. In crowded spaces, the plant tends to grow
taller. In natural areas, the plant will grow in dry fields and prairies.
Butterfly weed seeds need 2 months of cold moist stratification
and light to germinate in late spring. The established plant can be divided in early spring or fall.
Known to be great for lung conditions such as persistent coughs.
It is a great bronchodilator, anti-spasmodic, and muscle relaxant. Used for high fevers and menstrual
cramping. Note that it contains cardioactive glycosides that could cause heart disturbances if taken for a
prolonged period of time. It is mildly irritating to the mucus membranes and in large doses can cause nausea,
vomiting and diarrhea.
Monarch butterflies choose butterfly weed to
lay their eggs on. The larvae are adapted to this native plant species. Butterfly weed also attracts
hummingbirds and bees.
Aster novae-angliae– New England Aster
The purple petals with yellow centres can be enjoyed in August to
October. This plant grows 2-6 feet tall and will tolerate clay soil. It prefers sun and moisture where it
will grow tall. If planted in dry soil and partial sun won’t grow as tall. Naturally grows in moist meadows,
open woods and fields.
Self sows easily. Seeds mature in late fall. The plant can be
divided in the spring.
Heals topical skin conditions such as rashes and scrapes. Can be
used as an eye wash for irritated eyes and orally for mouth ulcers. It is helpful for those ailing from sore
throats or ulcers in stomach or duodenum.
It can be helpful for respiratory infections and reduces mucus in
nasal passages. It lowers fever and boosts the immune system.
It is a good herb for improving peripheral circulation and has
been known to be helpful for inflamed blood vessels. The purple flowers indicate the presence of anthocyanins
which is great for the health of blood vessels.
This herb is also calming to nervous system, reducing stress and
tension. It is helpful for use in urinary tract conditions.
Attracts bees and butterflies
Makes a great cut flower
Echinacea purpea - Purple Coneflower
Grows 2-5 feet tall and flowers from summer to fall. Requires full
to partial sun. Blooms in July and August and deadheading will encourage new
The greek word 'echinos' means sea urchin. The name Echinacea
comes from the spiny central part of the flower that resembles a sea urchin.
Naturally grows in meadows and prairies.
Seeds need 2-3 months of cold moist stratification and light to
Echinacea is used as an immune stimulant that helps with viral
colds and fevers. It is antibacterial and antiviral. It is especially good at helping the body to heal upper
respiratory infections such as laryngitis and tonsillitis. It is good or runny noses. It reduces local and
systemic inflammatory conditions. It has been reported to help with gingivitis when used as a mouthwash.
Externally, it can help with sores and cuts. It is also known for its relaxing and detoxifying
Butterflies and hummingbirds feed on the nectar. Small birds are
attracted to the plant for its seeds.
Eupatorium maculatum - Joe Pye
Grows 3-10 feet high. It's clusters of pink flowers boom in July
and August and turn brown in the fall. It likes full or partial sun and moist areas (thought it can tolerate
Leaves are lance-shaped whorl around the stem.
Naturally grows in marshes and wet meadows.
Seeds require 3 months of cold moist stratification as well as
sunlight in order to germinate well. Established plants can be divided in the spring or
Known for treating stones in the urinary tract, for prostate
conditions and gout. It contains pyroxidine alkaloids and is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, for
children under 3, seniors, for anyone with serious liver pathology, or in combo with other moderate to strong
Makes a nice cut flower.
Silphium perfoliatum - Cup Plant
This giant in the garden can grow 4-9 feet tall. Its yellow
aster-like flowers bloom in summer into autumn. It requires full sun to partial shade. This plant spreads
easily in the garden so make sure you keep an eye on it. It makes a good support for other plants because of
its thick central stem.
Leaves are opposite and form a cup shape where it meets the stem,
providing a cup for water to pool for thirsty insects and small birds.
Traditionally used to treat fevers and ulcers. Used for liver and
Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Birds such as gold finches
feed on the seeds. Ambush spiders hide beneath the leaves and wait for insects to drink out of the plant's
cup and then, surprise! - they get ambushed.
Solidago Canadensis – Canada Goldenrod
Grows up to 5 feet high. Its cheerful bright yellow flowers sit in terminal clusters. Blooms mid
August to early October, the same time as ragweed. Many people mistakenly think that goldenrod causes hay
fever, when it is ragweed that has wind-pollinated pollen that often aggravates those who have
Naturally, Goldenrod grows in open dry areas. It looks very similar to Tall, Early and Late
Goldenrod species. All three of these species has a single vein going down the leaf. If it has 3 parallel veins
then it’s one of the 3 species mentioned above.
Seeds need 2-3 months of cold moist stratification and light to
Great epithelial herb for bruises and rashes. It’s good to use for conditions of the urinary
tract. Also good for runny noses, allergies, hay fever. It is known to boost the immune system and to lower
fevers such as the measles and chicken pox. It is a diuretic and antimicrobial herb. It’s good for lymphatic
conditions. It’s a vascular tonic, so good for varicose veins, hemorrhoids and arteriosclerosis. It helps
with peripheral blood circulation. It’s a depurative so helps with arthritis, acne, gout and inflamed
muscles. Its bitterness aids liver, gall bladder and digestive tract ailments. It helps to reduce gas and
Attracts bees and butterflies.
Verbena hastata - Blue Vervain
Grows 3-5 feet tall. The flowers are panicles of purple spikes that bloom mid- to late summer.
It will flower again if you deadhead in mid-summer. It likes full or partial sun. Its leaves are opposite and
lanceolate. It prefers moist to wet soil but will thrive in dry sunny areas as well. It looks very similar to
Hoary Vervain (V. stricta) but the latter has hairy stems and
V. hastata does not.
Naturally grows in wet meadows and ditches.
Seeds need about 3 months of cold moist stratification, and require sunlight to
An anti-viral herb that is great for digestive conditions (such as poor digestion) through
increased bile flow. It is also used to treat rheumatic conditions and other inflammatory ailments of the
muscles and ligaments. Those with depression and anxiety associated with the menstrual cycle can benefit from
this herb. It's a calming tranquilizer and helps with stress and insomnia. Good for colds, flus, fevers and
runny noses. Good topically for rashes, bites and stings. Helps with peripheral
Attracts butterflies and bees
Makes a great cut flower
Virginicum - Culver's Root
Grows 3-5 feet tall. Its flowers are white and arranged in pointy tipped spikes and bloom in
July and August. It requires full to partial sun. Its 4-7 pointed lanceolate leaves are arranged in a
whorl up the stem.
It naturally grows in moist prairies and meadows.
Seeds require light to germinate. Established plants can be divided in spring or
Attracts butterflies and bees.
*We cannot take responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Every plant
affects each individual differently and it is important to see a qualified herbalist before using any plant
Written By: Lea Tran