Some excellent research by Annie White helps us understand which of the native cultivars available for purchase are great for pollinators and which cultivars we should avoid in preference of true native species.
Thankfully some of my favourite plants for appearance and colour are just as good as the true natives. Most nativars however do not provide the same level of access, nectar, or pollen quality and therefore are less desirable to pollinators. This matters a lot to the increasing number of us who care about a garden as habitat that supports life and works with nature in balance.
More on native plants and benefits as habitat:
Carolinian Canada Habitat Gardens for Climate-Smart Communities – an excerpt
Can we grow a green future in the face of climate change? Nature has a secret – it is really good at adapting to climate change. We just need to let it work its magic.
Why Grow Climate-Smart?
150+ years ago, native plants thrived, making the Carolinian Zone one of the most productive and attractive regions for people to call home. Now, our current levels of habitat are critically low… so low that many wild species will struggle to survive another 150 years. London and Middlesex need to double the levels of habitat to meet recommended minimal targets for healthy landscapes (30%). As climate shifts, extreme weather will make it even harder for wildlife to survive. Many excellent habitat projects are taking place throughout London and Middlesex and many volunteers are quietly working for wildlife; however, it is not enough to meet the current need. With over 95% private land and 85% cleared, our zone needs more allies in growing habitat everywhere – integrated into neighbourhoods, urban spaces, balconies, roofs, parks, waterways, trails, yards, hedgerows, rural landscapes, and more. Luckily there are many green volunteers, businesses, and communities who want to help and 1,500 native plants to choose from.
In 2017, Carolinian Canada and WWF-Canada piloted a new program called In the Zone www.inthezonegardens.ca to enable gardeners to lead the way in growing a green future for Canada by helping native species thrive. One of our pilot hubs of activity was London-Middlesex, thanks to strong local support from TD Friends of the Environment, London Community Foundation, and others (see below). Together, we can grow Canada’s biggest wildlife garden.