UK butterflies are on the wing from late March right through till October, so there is still lots of time to see them and offer nectar rich plants in the garden.
Red Admiral Butterfly: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
Gardener's world offer their top ten plants for butterflies including one of my favourite late flowering perennials: Verbena Bonariensis. It’s tall thin bluey-silvery stems poke up through everything else in the border with a delightful spray of lilac flowers on top; high and easy to reach for passing butterflies and bees. It’s full of nectar and flowers for months in late summer. It seems to grow in most soil types in sunny positions but you can plant it in pots to move around into strategic positions in sun and shade to fill in gaps between plants.
Another great plant is Teasel; butterflies flock to the nectar and as an additional bonus, the brown seed head provide lots of seed for Siskins and Goldfinches over the autumn and winter. A good nectar plant for the smaller butterflies is an ornamental marjoram called Origanum Laevigatum which the bees love as well. Hardy plumbago shrubs: Ceratostigma Plumbaginoides or Willmottianum have deep blue flowers that the larger butterflies like.
Achilleas and Sedums have flat-topped clusters of tiny, star-shaped usually pink flowers; ideal as landing pads for insects and as viewing platforms for us as there’s no inner part of the flower for them to disappear into!
So why are we not recommending Buddleja? Because it’s a vigorous, spreading plant that can be so problematic, it's very close to being put onto the invasive, non-native list; this means it will be an offence to sell it or allow it to spread from your property. If you’ve already got one, keep it well pruned, but in terms of new planting to attract butterflies, there are many, better options.
Wild about Gardens have a colourful online and printable guide on planting for butterflies. The RHS feature some useful, general information about Butterflies in the garden and the RSPB have a grow flowers for Butterflies page.
I hope you get to see some real beauties in your garden over the coming weeks.
The Flatford Wildlife Garden currently remains closed but re-opening details will be posted in advance on this blog and the main Flatford webpage. The Flatford team continue to encourage wildlife through their own gardening projects and very much look forward to sharing wildlife gardening experiences with you when we reopen.
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