Canada Milk Vetch
- Average, moderately wet or moderately dry soils
- Full Sun to light shade
- 36” tall, 18” to 24” wide
- Summer blooms
- Ontario Native, Thriving in Meadow, Open Woodland and Dry Meadow ecosystems, Nitrogen Fixing
One of the earlier introductions in the Perth gardens, I thought for a while that they had been lost to an excess of enthusiasm and a learning curve.
The excess enthusiasm was starting to add species to the space before getting the know the existing ecosystem and soil well.
The learning curve was around how to make garden beds without removing any organic mater from the already low organic matter soil. -The two critical steps proved to be planting annuals, in this case vegetables, in a bed for a couple of years and removing any re-growth of the existing perennials each fall, for two years BEFORE planting the new perennials and being sure to dig a trench between the new bed and the existing ecosystem so the established plants don’t return and overwhelm the new plants (I have a video on how I make new beds here
But, despite that very first garden having almost entirely reverted to the previous ecosystem, I was very pleased to see that one of the Canada Milk Vetch that I had planted was still getting by in the tangle, hidden among the European Blue Vetch (Vicia cracca), appear and bloom this summer.
The internet tells me that they are adaptable when it comes to growing conditions but this particular plant is growing well in sand/silt soil and a bit more than a half of a day of sun.
Quite a bit sturdier than the very vining Blue Vetch that they visually blend with until they come into bloom, these still seem to be plants that would appreciate being planted fairly densely with neighbours in a garden or meadow setting, where they could get by with a little support from their friends.
Like other members of the legume family, these host nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots. If you looking for fertility boosting plants to include in a food forest or around nut bearing trees, this is definitely a species to consider. They are also a popular summer nectar source for a range of native pollinator species.
They grow to around 3’ tall and 2’ wide, are happy in full sun or part shade and are fine in moderately moist to moderately dry settings.