Plants for attracting butterflies
Shop our selection of the best wildlife-friendly plants for attracting butterflies and giving them a safe home in your garden. With 58 species of butterfly calling the UK their home, there are plenty of different types of this beautiful insect you can hope to see. There is something quite magical and idyllic about having butterflies fluttering around the garden with their beautiful colours and fabulously erratic flight paths. From an ecological perspective, together with their caterpillars, they are a vital part of the food chain, acting as essential food for many other creatures. Unfortunately, following increased urbanisation and de-naturalisation of our landscapes, many are now under threat of extinction, so any help we provide in the way we plant our gardens can make all the difference. The first step before considering nectar-rich plants to provide food for butterflies is actually considering how to encourage caterpillars into your garden – after all, this is where butterflies begin, of course.
Caterpillars like to eat plants we commonly see as weeds, such as docks, thistles, nettles and ivy. Practical options include allowing certain areas of your garden to naturalise or, alternatively, allowing these “weeds” to grow freely blended amongst patches of wildflowers – they’ll be less noticeable in amongst prettier varieties such as cornflowers and daisies. Once you have a hospitable place for caterpillars, a garden full of colourful, nectar-rich flowers will be a haven for butterflies. They love bright, fragrant flowers with short flower tubes or flat tops in striking shades of red, orange, purple, pink or yellow, ideally with elaborately shaped petals and plenty of nectar. Choose a mix of plants that bloom across the different seasons to give them a chance to feed for as long as possible through the spring, summer and autumn months. Some of the best varieties are butterfly bush, Echinops, Hebes, asters, lavender, sedum and verbena.