Plants for Butterflies

Butterfly on Oregano Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar Small Tortoiseshell on Choisya

Plants for Butterflies

Butterflies in the garden are simply lovely to watch and there are many plants readily available which can really turn your garden into a haven for butterflies. Bringing Butterflies into your garden will help boost the local population by providing food, water and shelter; and in terms of making your garden a relaxing haven for yourself, butterfly watching comes high on the list.

Planting a wide variety of plants and shrubs providing nectar for a long season is a great start, and there are many plants Butterflies find irresistible. In addition, if you are happy with a garden which is not so tidy, perhaps supporting some weeds and wildflowers, this will also provide food for butterflies and importantly caterpillars such as in the center image which is the Hawk moth Deilephila elpenor which likes rose bay willow herb which is generally considered a weed but ideal caterpillar food. 

It is hard to under estimate the  pulling power of the Buddleja, hence it's common name the Butterfly bush. I have watched in the garden on a warm summer day the branches laden with scented flowers and butterflies.  

Many of the common herbs are very attractive to butterflies and this is immediately clear when looking round an open garden, enter the protective warmth of the walled garden containing within a herb garden and the buzz of insects and butterflies is marked. Butterflies love Oregano, image top left, Thymus,  Borage, Nepeta cat mint, Chives, Hyssop, Lavender. A herb garden is a butterfly zone. and many herbs are very easy to grow.

There are a host of garden plants that will attract butterflies into the garden and plant with successive flowering times for the best results. There is information about Butterflies and what we can do to preserve them and increase their numbers provided by the Butterfly Conservation Trust .

 

 Lavender and butterfly

 

Plants to attract Butterflies

Lavender a great favourite with butterflies, and bees, easy to grow in the right spot which is well drained on the dry side. Lavender is happy provided it is not too wet, especially over the winter. Lavender is a perennial although tending to need fairly regular replacement as it gets woody in later years. Butterflies and Bees are attracted to Lavender.

If your soil or conditions are too wet an alternative to grow is Nepeta, (see below) common name Cat mint see below. For advice on How to grow Lavender

Nepeta

Nepeta will grow just about anywhere which includes wetter and  colder conditions  which cannot  be tolerated by Lavender. Nepeta is also a perennial which produces clouds of blue flowers and is very attractive to bees and butterflies, but also cats.

It is very easy to grow for tips, advice  and images on growing Nepeta common name Cat Mint

Veronicastrum alba with butterfly Veronicastrum  and Veronica group of plants are attractive to butterflies. Easy to grow perennials, fully hardy will grow in full sun and partial shade. They are tall plants up to 2m and so best grown at the back of the border
helenium-septemberfuchs.

Heleniums are group of clump forming perennials with open daisy like flowers which are attractive to butterflies. Heleniums flowers are predominately red, orange, yellow and shades in between,  and are easy to grow in a sunny position.

Heleniums are summer flowering and in a good sunny site will flower for many weeks. Taller varieties may require staking and regular dead heading to prolong flowering.

Sedum with butterflies

Sedums are a butterflies friend. Flowering in late summer and early autumn they are attractive to butterflies and bees providing a late summer source of nectar. Sedums are really easy to grow and make a great addition to the border.

Sedum will attract all types of pollinators, including a good number of butterflies. In the late summer a good clump of sedum can have half a dozen butterflies on it at any time. I have them planted up in a wall near the pond so I can sit and watch the butterflies and pond life.

Forget me nots with butterfly

Myosotis, the simple forget-me-not is a source of early nectar for butterflies flowering from late March/ April onwards depending on the conditions. Forget-me-not is easy to raise from seed and will self seed around the garden, and for this reason, and its lowly status as a cottage plant/semi weed, it can be considered a bit of a nuisance.

ignoring that forget me nots are worth growing as it produces clouds of lovely blue flowers early in the year, which mix in well with lots of spring bedding, and brings in the butterflies. 

Lonicera the common honeysuckle Lonicera, the common honeysuckle, is good to grow for Butterflies. It is also one of the most attractive scented climbing plants which is easy to grow and will provide nectar for the Butterflies and later berries for the birds.
Verbena borariensis

Verbeba borariensis is a summer flower perennial which Butterflies love.

It is a striking plant grown on mass,  easy to grow, and tall up to 2ms but does not usually require staking and goes very well with so many garden plants . It can tend to be short lived as it is  ** hardy which makes it susceptible in a bad winter.

ceanothus-with-bee-310x240 Both Bees and butterflies are attracted to the Ceanothus shrub which has very striking blue flowers in either  Spring or Autumn, depending on the variety.  Ceanothus does need particular  growing conditions to do well, principally not too cold and in a sheltered spot. For advise on How to grow Ceanothus.
Butterfly on Oregano 

 The Butterflies just love Oregano and will flock to it. Oregano is easy to grow, a Mediterranean herb but not not one which is fussy where it grows although the more sun the better. The down side is that Oregano is a vigorous self seeder, and once you have one plant, you will have more.

To keep it in check it is essential to pull out new seedings where they root but it ideal for attracting butterflies. 

 Cornflower wildflowers

 Many of our annual flowers and wildflowers are good for butterflies, and bees, such as Cornflower (illustrated) also Daisy, Pot Marigold, Red Campion, Nasturtium , Buttercups and Heliotrope. It is easy to create a small wildflower patch of annual to look lovely and benefit the butterflies illustrated below.

Annual wildflower patch

How to create an annual wildflower patch 

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