When you think about how you want your garden to be, it’s easy to prioritise how it looks and making sure it’s the right space for you, but what about also making it the right space for wildlife? That doesn’t have to mean letting everything go wild and creating what is essentially a small jungle. It is possible, and easier than you may think, to have a garden that is a haven for wildlife and also a beautiful and usable space for you to enjoy with family and friends.
From left to right: Small elephant hawk-moth, white ermine moth, Jersey tiger moth. Images by Meg Stone.
It may seem a bit overwhelming at first when being encouraged to support wildlife in your outdoor space, but there are many small changes you can make that will support a wide variety of species. It’s important to note that all our native wildlife is valuable, but it is insects that are the most important group of animals in the world, many of which you may already have in your garden, balcony or window box. One of the many benefits of having insects in our gardens, is that they help to pollinate plants, but when we think of pollinators, do we ever think of moths? Well, moths are extremely important pollinators, and there are 2,500 moth species in the UK alone. You may be surprised to know though that there are more moths that fly in the day-time than the number of butterfly species in the UK! So that’s a lot of pollinating happening whilst we’re awake and when we’re asleep!
From left to right: Garden tiger moth, pale tussock moth, buff tip moth. Images by Meg Stone.
Some plants have evolved to have a stronger scent at night, specifically to attract moths as their main pollinators. So, planting night-scented plants is a key element in conserving moths, which are thought to be decreasing by 10% each decade. Most of the night-scented plants are easy to grow and will also look great too, so it’s a win win!
Here are 5 of my favourite night-scented plants to attract moths to an outdoor space:
Honeysuckle – such as Lonicera periclymenum which is a climber with a gorgeous scent throughout the day and night. It’s easy to grow, typically flowers from summer to early autumn and prefer partial shade. Lonicera periclymenum can be planted in almost any soil type in the winter, avoiding times when the ground is waterlogged or frozen. It is great at attracting elephant hawk-moths and small elephant hawkmoths. It will be a beautiful addition to any garden or balcony.
Photo credit: TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋), Flickr
Tobacco Plant – such as Nicotiana alata ‘Grandiflora’ is a perennial with a strong evening scent and very attractive flowers. Sow nicotiana seeds in early spring, under cover and only plant out after the last frost. It prefers a sunny location, in fertile, moist but well-drained soil and is attractive to a variety of moths.
Photo credit: 阿橋 HQ, Flickr
Night-scented stock – not surprisingly this plat has a strong scent at night, so it is very attractive to moths. It prefers to be in a sheltered area with full sun and can grow well in chalk, loam or sandy soil that is moist but well-drained.
Evening Primrose – this gorgeous plant with bright yellow flowers likes full sun. It looks great in any border and is easily grown from seed. Seeds can be planted from June to October.
Photo credit: saiberiac, Flickr.
Bladder Campion and White Campion - emit a clove-like scent at night which is attractive to moths. Sow seeds in either spring or autumn. They are easy to grow and is another sun-loving plant. Flowers from May to September and is a very pretty and delicate flower.
Photo credit: OliBac, Flickr.
Top Tip - plant night-scented plants together so moths can find them more easily, which will save them energy and time. Top Tip - plant night-scented plants together so moths can find them more easily, which will save them energy and time.
Hopefully, by adding some of these plants to your outdoor space, you and your local wildlife will see and smell the benefits! Believe it or not, all the photos of moths that I have included in this blog are all UK species.
To keep up to date with the moths I catch, and to find out more moth information, follow my Instagram account: @megs_moths. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! Happy moth-ing!
I'll be sure to share this with my landscaping team! Thank you!
What a fantastic article! I'm truly inspired to transform my garden into a haven for moths and wildlife. One tip I'd like to add is to incorporate a shallow dish with some water and pebbles in your garden. Moths can get thirsty, especially during hot weather, and this simple addition can provide them with a much-needed drink.
I'm just looking for ideas for my courtyard which is a blank canvas at the moment and this has really inspired me. Thank you!
i have evening primrose , the delicate sort not the (in my opinion) hideous thick stemmed variety that look more like triffids than evening primroses. They are easy to grow, self seed all over the place which is good cos after about two years you need to start afresh with new plantlets. Cut down in the autumn , they will renew in the spring, Dead head the next day when they close up and turn orange.
Brilliant advice, love it! I shall be out planting now and preparing for next summer, thanks
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