Shrubs and Plants for a Butterfly Garden


Creating a butterfly garden

Creating a butterfly garden, or a garden for wildlife, can be done by choosing nectar rich plants and shrubs. These will attract butterflies, moths, bees and other beneficial insects to visit even the smallest of gardens. Planted and placed in a warm sheltered spot, they can be grown in the ground, in Patio pots, troughs, old buckets or washing-up bowls.

Habitat Loss

The loss of wildflower meadows, hedgerows, woodlands and the over use of chemicals in the countryside by intensive farming, has seriously effected the numbers of our butterfly species, creating a butterfly garden can help reverse this decline for some of our butterflies.

Choosing Plants

When choosing a selection of plants, if possible choose a mixture of both native wildflowers and cultivated varieties. These types of plants are often referred to as herbaceous perennials, biennials or cottage garden flowers they are usually colourful easy to grow and require little maintenance. Shrubs like Buddleia are also easy maintenance and a magnet for summer garden butterflies.

Peacock Butterfly, April Blackthorn Blossom

Peacock Butterfly, on Blackthorn Blossom in early Spring

Orange-tip Butterfly on wildflowering violets in early Spring

Orange-tip Butterfly on Violet Flower

There are many species of Native plants some of which are generally considered by gardeners as common weeds such as dandelions, buttercups, and daises. These hardy wild perennials are probably some of the earliest wild flowering plants and play an important role in early spring and will often continue to flower late into autumn.

Will butterflies breed in my garden?

If Peacock, Comma, or Small Tortoiseshell butterflies are visitors to your garden you can encourage them to breed by planting some Nettles. The Nettles are best planted in a tub or trough then buried in the ground, this will stop them from spreading around the garden. Carefully choose a sunny position near nectar plants, female butterflies can be quite fussy where they lay their precious eggs.

Why Early Flowering Plants so important to wildlife?

Spring flowering plants and shrubs provide a welcome nectar source, for butterflies, moths, bees and other insects awakening from winter hibernation. Butterflies like the Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshells and Brimstone will all benefit from a selection of well chosen plants in a carefully planned butterfly garden.

Spring Flowering Plants

Wild Primrose (Primula vulgaris)

Wild Primrose (Primula vulgaris) woodland wildflower
  • Colour: Pale Yellow.
  • Light: Full sun - Partial Shade
  • Flowering: February to May.
  • Height: 25cm.
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Aubretia (Aubrieta deltoidea)

Aubretia a spring garden plant with many small purple or pink flowers
  • Colour: Pink - purples - blues.
  • Light: Full sun - Partial Shade
  • Flowering: March to June
  • Height: 10-20cm.

Sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis)

  • Colour: Purple - white
  • Light: Full sun - Partial shade
  • Flowering: May-June
  • Height: 90cm-120cm.

Violets (Viola riviniana wild and cultivated varieties)

  • Colour:
  • Light: sun and shade
  • Flowering: April-June.
  • Height:

Wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri)

Wall Flower (Cheiranthus cheiri)
  • colour:
  • Light: Full sun
  • Flowering: April-May
  • Height: 20-45cm.

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

Sweet William and Swallowtail Butterfly

Cowslips (primula veris)

Cowslip (primula veris) wildflower close up in Meadow
  • Colour: Pale Yellow.
  • soil type: calcareous.
  • Flowering: April to June.
  • Height around: 30cm.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion flower
  • Colour: Yellow.
  • Light: Full Sun.
  • Flowering: March to October.
  • Height:

Native Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Native English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) spring woodland flower
  • Colour: Blue, White
  • Light: Shade
  • Flowering: April-June
  • Height:
  •

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

Lilac (Syringa) close up of flowers
  • Light: full sun-partial shade
  • Flowering: April- June
  • Height: up to 7m.
  • Origin: Non-Native

Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)

Yellow Rattle Wild Flowering Plant
  • Colour: yellow
  • Flowering: May to September
  • Height: up to 45cm
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Summer Flowering Plants

Verbena (verbena bonariensis)

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly-verbena bonariensis
  • Colour:
  • Light: Full sun
  • Flowering: June-October
  • Height: 20-30cm.

Knapweed (Centaurea species)

Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) flower head
  • Light: Sun-partial shade
  • Flowering: June-August
  • Height: 45-150cm.
  • Origin: Native

Wild Marjoram also named (Oregarno) (Origanum vulgare)

Wild Marjoram (Origarno) attracts butterflies and Bees
  • Colour: Purple.
  • Light: Full Sun.
  • Flowering: July-September.
  • Height: 20-80 cm.

Buddleia Butterfly Bush (Buddleja all varieties)

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly (aglais urticae) in urban garden on white Buddleia
  • Colours: Purple, Red, Yellow and more
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Flowering: July-late November.
  • Height:True Dwarfs - Large
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Lavender (lavendula)

  • Colour:
  • Light: Full sun
  • Flowering: July-September
  • Height: 90-120cm.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)

Honeysuckle Flowering climber
  • Light: Full sun-Partial shade
  • Flowering: June-September
  • Height: 2-10m.

Yarrow / Achillea (all wild and cultivated varieties)

  • Light: Full Sun
  • Flowering: June-October
  • Height:1-15m.
  • Origin:Native – Non-Native.

Scabious (Scabiosa spp.)

Scabious (Scabiosa sp) Field Scabious, Meadow butterflies
  • Colour:
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Flowering: June-September
  • Height: 50-60cm.
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Globe Thistle (Echinops spp.)

Globe Thistles in border
  • Colour:
  • Light: Full sun
  • Flowering: July-August
  • Height: 1-2 Meters.

Autumn Flowers

Goldenrod (Solidago sp)

Goldenrod (Solidago sp)
  • Light: full sun-Partial Shade
  • Flowering: July- October
  • Height: 30-150cm

Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile)

  • Colour:
  • Light: Full sun
  • Flowering: August-October.

Coneflowers (Rudbeckia, Echinacea)

Cone Flowers (rubekia)
  • Colour:
  • Light: Sunny
  • Flowering: July to October
  • Height: 60-90cm.
  • Read More....

More great nectar plants

  • Sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
  • Michaelmas daisy (Aster novi-belgii)
  • Thyme (Thymus drucei)
  • Catmint (Nepeta mussinii)
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