Plants that will attract these fascinating and useful garden visitors usually have simple, tubular or daisy-like flowers, especially in pinks and purples; avoid double-flowered varieties. Butterflies also like fruity scents. Remember that their caterpillar stage needs different food plants. Nettles are well-known as the food of tortoiseshells, but long grass and other weeds support many species.
Bees are necessary for gardens. They pollinate and bring life, playing an essential role in growing all sorts of crops.
Unfortunately, bees in the UK are under threat, so it’s down to us avid gardeners to help them out. There are ways in which we can prepare our gardens to attract bees, encouraging them to pollinate all the year through.
Here are the top bee and butterfly friendly plants that will attract the critters into your garden.
English Lavender “Hidcote“
This compact lavender with thin, silvery-grey leaves and dark purple flowers is an evergreen shrub useful for edging. Dense spikes of fragrant, tubular flowers, borne at the ends of long, unbranched stalks, appear during mid- to late summer. Like all lavenders, the flowers dry the best if cut before they are fully open.
Aster “Andenken an Alma Potschke“
This vigorous, upright, clump-forming perennial carries sprays of large, daisy-like, bright salmon-pink flower heads with yellow centres from late summer to mid-autumn, on stiff stems above rough, stem-clasping, mid-green leaves. Suitable for cutting, or in late-flowering displays. “Harrington’s Pink” is very similar, with paler flowers.
Daphne “Eternal Fragrance“
Non-stop blooms from April to October make Daphne “Eternal Fragrance” unbeatable for flowers and fragrance. This rare semi-evergreen Daphne flowers on new growth, so they just keep coming! With a compact, slow growth habit and deliciously sweet fragrance, this elegant shrub is perfect for planting in containers close to a doorway, where you will fully appreciate the fabulous heady fragrance as you pass. Height and spread: 90cm (36″).
All cultivars of buddleja, the butterfly bush, are fast-growing, deciduous shrubs with a wide range of flower colours. As the popular name suggests, the flowers attract butterflies and other beneficial garden insects in profusion. The long, arching shoots carry lance-shaped, mid- to grey-green leaves, up to 25cm (10in) long. Conical clusters of bright, fragrant flowers, usually about 30cm (12in) long, are borne at the end of arching stems from summer to autumn; those of “Royal Red” are the largest, up to 50cm (20in) long. These shrubs respond well to hard pruning in spring, which keeps them a compact size for a small garden.
Bottlebrush Plant “Callistemon Citrinus“
This attractive cultivar of the crimson bottlebrush is an evergreen shrub usually with arching branches. Dense spikes of brilliant red flowers appear in spring and summer, amid the grey-green, lemon-scented leaves which are bronze-red when young. Grow at the base of a sunny wall to give protection from the winter cold.
Caryopteris x Clandonensis “Heavenly Blue“
A compact, upright, deciduous shrub, grown for its clusters of intensely dark blue flowers which appear in late summer and early autumn. The irregularly toothed leaves are grey-green. In cold areas, position against a warm wall.
Daphne “Perfume Princess“
Pretty pink springtime flowers clothe the stems of this robust shrub and fill the garden with an exquisite perfume. Although slow growing, Daphne “Perfume Princess” is well worth the wait, forming a medium-sized shrub with an attractive rounded habit. This hardy evergreen shrub has increased in popularity in recent years, providing year round interest as a specimen plant in borders and containers. Height and spread: 120cm (47″).
Gardenia “Kleim’s Hardy“
Exotic single white blooms with an intoxicating fragrance that is simply divine. Gardenia “Kleim’s Hardy” is the first of its kind that can be grown outdoors all year round. Its glossy evergreen foliage provides the perfect backdrop for the beautiful blooms in summer. A beautiful, compact shrub for sheltered borders and containers. Height and spread: 90cm (36″).
Hardy Gardenia “Crown Jewels“
Who’d have imagined you could grow a tough, hardy outdoor Gardenia a few years ago? Large pearly white, waxy double blooms, contrasting dramatically against rich, glossy evergreen leaves. This hardy shrub will be a prized specimen from the moment it’s delivered to your door. And do not underestimate the fragrance, Gardenia “Crown Jewels” has one of the most reliable, most intoxicating scents that will fill patios, gardens and your home all summer long.
Patio Lavatera Mallow “Barnsley Baby“
These upright and showy, flowering shrubs with stiff stems and sage-green leaves usually bloom from midsummer to autumn in pinks and purples. Although they are short-lived, they proliferate on any well-drained soil, including thin, dry land, which makes them a welcome addition to any garden where quick results are desired. They also perform well in coastal areas, being able to tolerate salt-laden winds, but the shrubs will need staking if grown in a site exposed to wind. In cold regions prone to severe frost, plant them against a warm, sunny wall.
Dwarf Patio Lilac “Palibin“
Dwarf Lilacs are like a dream come true; compact, bushy plants, smothered in tiny scented flowers from late spring. The “Palibin” stays small and neat, making it perfect for patio pots and small gardens. The abundance of fragrant spring flowers is astounding. Position them next to well-used doorways where the sweet fragrance will be really appreciated. Height and spread: 1.5m (4.9′).
Share Your Story
Are you aware of the necessity of bees in your garden? Did you know they were under threat? What plants do you grow to attract them? If you have any thoughts or questions, please add them below, and I will get back to you a soon as possible. Happy gardening!