Planting for Bees and Butterflies
Not only are bees and butterflies essential for the pollination of our gardens, but by encouraging them we transform our gardens into a haven for wildlife, playing a vital role in the conservation. These insects bring a vitality and delicate beauty to your own private space, with attractive colours, sound and life.
Pollination is where pollen from one flower is transferred to another, thereby fertilising the new plant. Bees and butterflies are our number one vehicle for making this process happen. Without them, plants would fail to produce seed or fruit! With bees in decline we can encourage not only their numbers but our gardens to flourish with a few well-placed and attractive plants.
So with Summer upon us what do we need to do to get our gardens fluttering?
Top Tips on How to Attract Butterflies:
- Choose sunny sheltered spots when thinking about planting as butterflies like warmth.
- Choose a wide variety of colourful plants that will attract flying insects that are also rich in nectar. The more visible an easily accessible to insects the better, planting same varieties in groups where possible.
- Where possible, using British Wildflowers can be an attractive addition to your garden, bringing a bit of the countryside into your home and may encourage a wider range of pollinating insects.
- Try to provide flowers right through the season, Spring flowers helping butterflies coming out of hibernation and Autumn flowers helping build up reserves before hibernation.
- Keep your plants healthy with plenty of water and feed where necessary, especially during the hottest weeks of Summer. Dead-head flowers as they go over to ensure you get the best show, and redirect energy into producing new flowers.
- Do not use insecticides or pesticides as they will kill not only butterflies but many other pollinating insects such as ladybirds, ground beetles and spiders.
- Don’t buy Peat Compost, as this is adding to the decline of the Large Heath butterfly, there are many good non peat alternative from garden centres.
So which plants are going to create this buzzing paradise?
There are many varieties that could give you the desired environment, however we will focus below on a few popular and RHS promoted choices. For a full list check out the RHS recommended pollinators via the link given below.
- Achillea millefolium (common yarrow) – this spreading perennial has delicate white/ cream flower heads during the summer. It is hardy and can be cultivated in most soil types. These pretty flowers can give height above other wildflower varieties.
- Cantaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed) – Delicate bright purple flower heads with a thistle like quality, stand out and contrast in wildflower areas. Upright perennial, hardy and good in most soil types.
- Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove) – With variety options available, you can really personalise your tastes and needs in this instance. Foxgloves are a beautiful statement piece in your garden, this traditional flower can stand true in any modern scheme due to its dramatic and contemporary colour combinations.
- Eupatorium cannabium (hemp agrimony) – can be annuals, herbaceous perennials or evergreen shrubs, with reddish stems and pink/purple flowers this is a lush and vigorous plant that will give you colour late summer to early autumn.
- Lonicera periclymenum (common honeysuckle) – With white to yellow flowers this beautiful climber not only gives the benefit of a beautiful display mid to late summer but gives of a delicate fragrance, perfect for you and our pollinating friends! (For something a bit different why not check out Lonicera periclymenum ‘Serotina’, this brightly coloured red and white variety is noted for scent and can offer a contemporary edge to a modern garden.
- Origanum Vulgare (wild marjoram) – woody-based perennial with aromatic leaves and small purple flowers.
- Thymus Pulegioides (Large Thyme) – for those who love to have their herbs just outside the kitchen door, why not also use them to give life to your garden as well as your recipes? Thyme is perfect for both of these, a hardy herb, it will give you that delicious fragrance as well as small purple flowers.
- Caryopteris x clandonensis (caryopteris) – compact upright shrub with aromatic leaves and clusters of small dark blue flowers in late summer and early autumn.
- Hesperis matronalis (dame’s violet) – this delicately scented biennial, or short lived perennial has loose clusters of white or pale purple flowers in the late spring early summer and brings a lacy, countryside feel to your garden.
- Hyssopus officinalis (hyssop) – spreading, semi-evergreen shrub with upright aromatic linear leaves and slender long blue flowers in summer and early autumn, if you like the visual effect of lavender but are not a fan of the scent this is the one for you!
- Jasminium officinale (common jasmine) – classic and beautiful, this scented climber is perfect for the pollinators in your garden and gives stunning display of flowers through late summer to early autumn and bears fruit in the autumn. Other varieties of jasmine would still act as rich sources of pollen so you can find something that suits you!
- Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) – Not only are we getting the wonderful purple haze of the lavender in flower, along with the intoxicating scent which carries across the garden on the air, but we are creating the perfect source of pollen for our garden friends.
- Verbena bonariensis (Purple Top) – these hardy perennial flowers through summer and autumn, with rough green stems and bright pom pom like flower clusters. (One of our all-time favourites!)And finally!
- Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ – Buddleia, otherwise known as the ‘butterfly bush’, is one of the best pollen rich plants you can offer up to our fluttering friends. We have chosen the variety of ‘Black Knight’ due to its particularly pleasant fragrance and deep purple flowers however any buddleia variety would do the job equally well.
So it’s not too late! Get your garden a flutter these summer with a few of these pollinating beauties! For more ideas on variety or info on planting contact us through the website or check out the full list offered by the RHS in their free guide below.