Rain Gardens: A Guide to Colour, A Guide to Wildlife

Building rain gardens is a truly wonderful way to minimize the amount of storm water runoff that ends up in to the sewers, and consequently in the Hamilton Harbour.  Strategically placing them in down-sloped areas or underneath downspouts is ideal for limiting the amount of runoff from your property.  However, another factor to consider is how this garden will look, and what type of wildlife you would like to attract.

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris


In general, birds are attracted to plants that bear fruits and seeds.  Some examples of native rain garden plants that are best suited to birds are High Bush Cranberry, Cardinal Flower, Chokeberry, and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees.


Butterflies and bees are attracted to plants with nectars, pollens, and saps to extract.  These insects act as pollinators, moving pollens and nectars so that other plants may flourish.  Some examples of native rain garden species suited to attracting bees and butterflies are Cardinal flower, Sneezeweed, Turtlehead, Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed, and various types of Milkweed.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower


It should be noted that rain gardens will not attract mosquitoes, since they require at least 6 days of standing water to breed, and a properly functioning rain garden will drain in less than 24 hours.  In fact, rain gardens attract other insects, such as dragonflies, which prey on mosquitoes.




Here are some native species that will provide colour and diversity to beneficial native insects and birds:


Fox Sedge (Carex  vulpinoides) and other native sedges

Dark-green Bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)

Soft stem Bulrush (Scirpus validus)

Red Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Blue flag iris (Iris virginicus)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilatica)

Golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Virginia Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)


This plant list was provided by St. Williams Nursery.  You can visit their website here: http://www.stwilliamsnursery.com/



Green Venture is currently involved in the Shell Fuelling Change competition.   Our project will build rain gardens with residents in a neighbourhood that has a history of flooding during intense rainfall.

Every vote counts!

Please help us out in this competition by voting for our program here:



Posted by Edward



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