Many of our plants here have labels indicating that they are good for attracting pollinators. Gardening with bees, butterflies and moths in mind is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
By simply growing a few choice plants and providing butterflies and moths with a garden refuge, you can make a huge difference.
Butterflies will visit any garden, however small, if they can feed from nectar plants. A well thought out garden can attract more than 20 species of butterfly. If you manage your patch to create a breeding habitat, you may see even more.
Moths are valuable pollinators that need our help. They play an important role in the garden ecosystem, so it’s vital that we make homes for them. Like butterflies, many moths drink nectar, but they also need plants on which to lay their eggs.
Flying insects such as bees and hoverflies which visit flowers for their nectar and pollen perform a vitally important pollination service. Pollination is where the pollen from one flower is transferred to another flower, bringing about fertilisation. Some flowering plants are pollinated by the wind but the majority rely on this service from insects and without it plants would fail to produce seed and, in some cases, fruit.
Our wild bees and other pollinators are considered to be in decline. By planting nectar and pollen rich flowers over a long season, gardeners can help reduce this trend. In return, an abundance of pollinators will ensure garden plants continue to reproduce through seed and that many fruit and vegetable crops such as apples, strawberries and tomatoes successfully set fruit.
The RHS have compiled a list of ten starter wild plants and ten garden plants for pollinators:
• Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
• Cantaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed)
• Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)
• Eupatorium cannabinum (hemp agrimony)
• Lonicera periclymenum (common honeysuckle)
• Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram)
• Thymus pulegioides (large thyme)
• Trifolium repens (white clover)
• Verbascum nigrum (dark mullein)
• Viburnum opulus (guelder rose)
• Caryopteris x clandonensis (caryopteris)
• Dianthus barbatus (sweet william)
• Hesperis matronalis (dame’s violet)
• Hyssopus officinalis (hyssop)
• Jasminum officinale (common jasmine)
• Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender)
• Lychnis coronaria (rose campion)
• Monarda didyma (bergamot or bee balm)
• Verbena bonariensis (purple top)
• Weigela florida (weigelia)
Butterfly Conservation also has a website full of useful information, including a section on Planting Pots for Pollinators and you can even put your pot on the map and see everyone’s pots in the neighbourhoods. Click here to visit Butterfly Conservation.org.