Understanding How to Choose Filter Criteria for Your Project

This tool uses several criteria to help you create a list of plants that fit the physical conditions of your pollinator habitat planting and allows you to choose your preferences for plant type and bloom time. It also allows you to select plants that are native to Ontario or are Carolinian plants.

Criteria 1: Sun/Shade (Sun, Part-sun, Shade)

Does your proposed planting site have

  • Sun: Full sun throughout the day, often a south-facing site with no obstructions that cast shade

  • Part-sun: Sun in the morning or afternoon only, or sun that is partially filtered

  • Shade: No direct sunlight, sunlight is heavily filtered.

Plants that are classified as “Sun” plants do not establish well or thrive in the shade, nor do “Shade” plants thrive in the sun. Plants that are classified as “Part-sun” may be able to tolerate sun but are unlikely to tolerate full shade.

Criteria 2: Moisture (Wet, Moist, Dry)

Is the soil at your site

  • Wet: Poorly drained for much of the growing season
  • Moist: Adequately drained with good rainfall and soil water retention for much of the growing season

  • Dry: Dry during heat of the summer, usually because it is on a slope or because the soil is sandy

Criteria 3: Plant Type (Bulb, Grass, Herbaceous, Shrub, Tree, Vine)

  • Bulb: Spring bulbs that can be included in a garden or naturalized. These are perennial.

  • Grass: Included because they can provide overwintering habitat for bumble bee queens. These are perennial.

  • Herbaceous: Non-woody plants that can be grown from seed.  They can be annuals, biennials, or perennials.

  • Shrub: Small single or multi-stemmed woody plant or cane plant. These are perennial.

  • Tree: Large woody plant, usually with a single woody trunk. These are perennial.

  • Vine: Plant that grows like a vine and needs support from other plants or a structure. Annual or perennial

Criteria 4: Bloom Time (April-October)

Ideally a pollinator planting should have a variety of plants whose combined bloom times cover the whole growing season from April to October. This is easy to achieve during the late spring and summer months and more difficult in the early spring and late fall. A good rule of thumb is to choose 12 species of plant with 3 in bloom at any one time.  Try to include plants from a variety of plant families.  Keep in mind that the bloom times provided are estimates.  Exact bloom time changes from region to region and sometimes from site to site.

Criteria 5: Native/Non-native (Native, Carolinian, Non-native)

This filter allows you to choose plants native to Ontario, plants native to only the Carolinian bio-region of Ontario, or to choose non-native plants. Not using this filter will give you a plant list that includes them all and shows you which ones fall into each category. We encourage the use of native plants wherever possible and Carolinian plants within the Carolinian bio-region. You can see a map of where Carolinian plants are suitable here.

Criteria 6:  Agricultural Value (Crop, Covercrop, Woodlot, Erosion Control, Streambank Erosion, Aphid Control, N-Fixer, Phosphorus-Scavenger)

This filter allows you to choose plants that provide other farming and stewardship values as well as providing pollinator habitat.  It is important to note that crop plants can only provide pollinator habitat if they are allowed to go to flower.