Scabious – Flowers that Attract Butterflies and Bees



Well known as a native wildflower, Scabious with its range of cultivated varieties and colours also makes it a traditional garden favourite. Its constant flowering throughout the summer months, makes it the perfect plant for when little else is flowering, such as in late July.

Scabious is a great choice for any wildlife garden, or meadow, its steady supply of nectar rich flowers will attract pollinating insects, like Butterflies and Bees.

Native Varieties

Wild native varieties like the common “Field Scabious” (Knutia arvensis) or the less common “Small Scabious” (Scabosa columbaria) can be found throughout England and Wales, flowering June-September they may be found on dry calcareous (lime or Chalk) grassland. Similar looking the two sometimes confused. Devil’s-Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) has smaller rounded flowers around 15-25mm across and is found in much damper conditions, than the Field or Small Scabious.

Field Scabious flower head

Field Scabious flower head

Scabious Information

  • Also Known As: Pincushion flower
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Sow seeds: February, March, April, May, June
  • Flowering: May – September or until the first frost
  • Height: Around 50-60cm
  • Soil: Well drained Lime-Chalk /Alkaline.

Well known varieties

Two of the most well known varieties are possibly Scabious ‘Blue Jeans’ and Scabious ‘Butterfly Blue’, their abundance of flowers throughout the summer makes these real garden favourites.

These and many more colours and varieties of Scabious are available Visit “Thompson & Morgan” here, to take a look

Scabious “Butterfly Blue Beauty”

General Plant care

New Scabious plants when large enough can be put out from April in a frost free position, always allow about a week for them to acclimatise and the risk of frost has passed before planting out 30-40 cm apart, varieties with large blooms may need light support if the weather is particularly wet or windy. Remove dead flowers (dead heading) during the growing season every week or so, new blooms will soon take their place.

In Autumn or when the Scabious plants have turned brown and died back they can be cut down to ground level, this can also be done in the spring, when plants can be propagated by division.


To keep a stock of healthy plants, Scabious requires some propagation this is best done March-April by root division, this requires lifting and dividing young plants into one or two divisions and replanting, or replacing the older less vagarious growing plants.

Field Scabious in Meadow

Field Scabious in Meadow

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022
Mar 142013

Wildflower Collection

Starting a Wildflower Garden or Meadow to attract beneficial insects like butterflies and bees it couldn’t be easier, with this diverse collection of wildflower plug plants.

Also adding a sprinkling of some wildflower seed between these plug plants – they will all knit nicely together.

The perennial varieties will come back year after year whilst the annuals will happily self seed and reappear in a new position each year. Height: 150cm (59″). Spread: 50cm (20″).

Flowering Period: May, June, July, August, September Position: Full sun, sun or semi shade.

Plugs available separately *

Follow this link to Thompson & Morgan for more Details

Collection comprises of:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis)*
  • Self-Heal (Prunella)*
  • Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium)*
  • Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum)*
  • Cornflower (Centaurea)
  • Ragged Robin (Lychnis)*
  • Field Scabious (Knautia)*
  • Common Knapweed (Centaurea)*
  • Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus)*
  • Teasel (Dipsacus)*
Wildflower Collection - Hardy Perennials

Wildflower Collection – Hardy Perennials – Thompson & Morgan

  © Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2013

Cowslips (primula veris) a popular spring wild flower


An early Spring herbaceous perennial, with yolk yellow bell shaped short stalked flowers, on stems up to 30cm high seen from April to June. The leaves are in a Basal rosette, arranged around the base of the flower stem, long oval shaped wrinkled and hairy underneath.

Locally common, in central and southern areas of the UK, Cowslips are often found on open unimproved calcareous grassland, other places include Roadside verges, Embankments, Gardens and tracks.

Cowslips provide a welcome nectar source for Butterflies, Bees and many other insects in early spring, it is also an essential larval food plant for the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly.

Cowslip close-up of yellow flowers in spring

Cowslip (prumula veris) close-up of flowers

Cowslips (primula veris) yellow

Cowslips (primula veris) growing in a Wild Flower Meadow

grow Cowslips from seed

Grow Cowslips (Primula veris) from seed, they are available from Thompson & Morgan, for more information Visit Thompson & Morgan Here

Plant Information

  • Name: Cowslip (primula veris)
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Also Known As: Herb Peter, Fairy Cups
  • Where: Found locally through-out Britain except far north of Scotland
  • Habitat: Often found on – Meadows, Roadside verges, Embankments, Gardens and tracks.
  • When does it flower? April to June.
  • Fruiting: n/a.
  • Height around: 30cm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Duke of Burgundy Butterfly (Hamearis lucina)

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Garden Weed or Wildflower


A bright orange or yellow flowering herbaceous perennial, the Dandelion is most often referred to as another garden weed, rather than a wildflower, due to its ability to turn up in lawns, borders, just about anywhere, able to tolerate most conditions and just about any type of soil.

When does it flower?

Flowering begins in March and runs through to October, each Dandelion plant often bears a number of singular flower heads, or florets, each with its own hollow stem from a central rosette of lobed leaves.

Being one of the earliest flowering nectar sources the Dandelion is an important plant for many early pollinating insects such as bees, as well as a several species of butterflies and moths. Butterflies like the Brimstone, Orange-Tip and Large White take advantage of this early nectar source (list will be updated).

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds, also known as a “Clock”

Dandelion yellow or orange flower

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in flower


After flowering, the Dandelion flower dries and after a few days opens out into a spherical structure or “clock”. Each seed is attached to fine hairs which act as a type of parachute which help distribute the mature seeds via the wind.

Beneficial Weed

Despite the Dandelion being known as just a garden weed, it is also a very beneficial plant, besides having many medicinal properties, being edible the leaves can be boiled and eaten, and are rich in essential vitamins and the flower petals are used in making Dandelion wine.

Plant Information

  • Name: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Group: Asteraceae
  • Type: Perennial
  • Similar appearance to: Cat’s Ear or false dandelion, Mouse-ear Hawkweed
  • Flowering: March to October.
  • Position: Full Sun.
  • Height: around 35cm
  • Larval food plant: Ruby Tiger Moth (Phragmatobia fuliginosa).
  • Nectar plant: Brimstone, Orange-Tip, Large White, Red Admiral
  • Photograph: 18th April
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022