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Best Ten Plants to attract Butterflies into your Garden..

It is as well to understand how and when a butterfly feeds before deciding upon which plants to use to attract Butterflies into your garden. Shrubs and perennials each have an important part to play in attracting Butterflies. best ones have small trumpet or tubular flowers.

Most butterflies and moths have a long tongue - or proboscis - through which they can suck up the nectar from deep inside the flowers of certain plants.

They do not feed on the readily available pollen, but push their tongue past the pollen and into the depths of the flower, wherein lies reservoirs of life giving nectar, which is not available to many other types of insects. Most suitable flowers for Butterflies to feed on, are made up of many small tubular shaped flowers combining to make a large flower head.

Certain shrubs, perennials and also annuals will attract butterflies into your garden.

Verbenia bonariensis with butterfly on flowers

Once you are armed with this simple bit of information, it becomes easy to select the best plants which will allow butterflies to access this nectar. You can then attract Butterflies to your garden. Bees have a similar feeding habit, so they will also be encouraged.

In the UK, most butterflies do not normally appear until early summer - June. A few are in evidence before then, so maybe also plants such as Bergenia for the early Butterflies.

A great plant for attracting butterflies to your garden - verbena bonariensis, a perennial which will also seed itself everywhere, and flower from seed in first year. A welcome feast for the common Butterfly.

Closeup image of Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

The image shows a Tortoiseshell Butterfly on a Bracteantha (Bracteantha - Very attractive multi-coloured daisy flowers and a superb flower for the arrangers to dry) - the everlasting flower. Here the butterfly's tongue -proboscis- can be seen reaching down into the flower's reservoir of nectar. This long tongue, makes it possible for the butterfly to reach into the trumpet-like individual florets of Buddleias, Verbenas, Hebes, Sedums and other similarly constructed flowers.

Best Ten Plants to attract Butterflies

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja

Peacock Butterfly very happy to sit on Buddleja flowers

Best known shrub for attracting Butterflies is the Butterfly Bush - Buddleja (Buddleja) davidii types - here seen with the magnificent specimen of a Peacock Butterfly.

Deciduous shrub, flowering from early summer, drought tolerant, attracts butterflies and bees.

Buddlejas have a bad reputation, for they are often seen growing on rubbish sites, out of crack in walls and basically anywhere that stays still long enough for a Buddleja seed to settle - and grow.

Most Buddleias start flowering from mid-June dependent upon the season (and correct pruning!) and if regularly dead-headed, will keep flowering well into the autumn.

When correctly pruned, they will reach to 6ft (2m) each year - depending upon variety. - with long arching canes and large flowers ranging from white, through to pink, red and deepest blue. The spread of the shrub is similar to the height, so room should be allowed for this spread.


Dark pink flowers of the perennial sedum

Sedums are varieties of perennial flowering herbs and shrubs commonly known as stonecrops. The flowers, which range from white, yellow, pink and red, are tiny and star-like. They grow in abundance in the northern hemisphere and its small pink flowers are known to attract butterflies and bees.

The pink varieties produce more nectar than the red varieties and attract more butterflies and bees.

Sedums are one of the easiest plants to plant in your garden, they require almost zero maintenance. They prefer a nice sunny border but can be planted anywhere, and they are quite drought tolerant, so dont worry if you go on holiday for a week or two.

Bracteantha – Everlasting Daisy

Closeup image of Butterfly - Tortoiseshell

Bracteantha is a low growing perenial, mainly used as a bedding or hanging basket plant.

It is a member of the Asteraceae family, more commonly known as the daisy family and is native of Australia.

They come in a wide array of colours, White, Cream, Yellow, Red, Pink, Orange, Gold and Purple which makes them very popular in the English Garden and the hanging basket.

Bracteantha enjoys most soil types as long as its well drained, plant in the sun or shaded areas and it will flower from spring to autumn, and it will tollerate light frosts.

The image shows a Tortoiseshell butterfly extracting the nectar from a Bracteantha flower.

Hebes Evergreen shrubs

Hebe shrub

The shrubs in this wide group are normally evergreen with varying degrees of winter hardiness and generally attractive flowers. There are also some variegated types and with otherwise coloured foliage - particularly silver types.

(Hebe – pronounced ‘Hee-bee’ is derived from Greek mythology where Hebe is the Goddess of Youth.) The main common name for the Hebe group is Veronica – an older term that was brought about by Hebes being grouped in the Veronica main family. Nowadays, they are Hebes, with the veronicas being a group of perennial plants – distinct from Hebes, though with somewhat similar flowers.

Hebes are known for their spikes of flowers, with many individual flowers making up the main flower spike. The leaves are normally set in groups of four around the stem with two opposite pairs set above each other in every grouping of four.

The English Lavender

The English Lavender

These include several of our best known and best loved lavenders - Hidcote, Munstead and Vera excel. The French Lavender - the frilly butterfly types - are not always fully hardy, and are generally short lived - However they are a spectacular and early flowering Lavender for growing.

Lavenders like well drained soils - growing best in a sunny position, and certainly do not like to be waterlogged in the winter. A raised bed, stony ground, dry banks etc are all great places for growing Lavenders (Lavandula) as are flower and shrub bed areas.

Syringa vulgaris | Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris | Common Lilac

Let it be at once understood, that Syringa vulgaris is in no way a ‘vulgar’ shrub, for the ‘vulgaris’ aspect of the botanical name is often misunderstood as having connotations of vulgarity. As with most botanical names, vulgaris is derived from the Latin language and simply means ‘common’ – hence the Common Lilac tag in general use.

However, the ‘Common’ Lilac is anything but, in the derogatory sense of the word, for this group of flowering shrubs has a wide range of beautiful hybridized cultivars which make it a good choice from any list of early flowering shrubs.

Kolkwitzia amabilis - The Beauty Bush

Kolkwitzia amabilis - The Beauty Bush

Kolkwitzia amabilis and other Kolkwitzias are not commonly known as Beauty Bush for nothing.

With proper pruning, this shrub has masses of arching stems of bell-like pink flowers in late spring or early summer.

You will need to be decisive when you prune this shrub, in order to get the best out of it. We show you how to prune Kolkwitzias.

The Kolkwitzias flower on stems which were produced in the pervious summer, so the timing of pruning is crucial to ensure masses of flowers on arching stems.

Echinacea – Coneflower

Echinacea – Coneflower

Echinacea is more commonly known as Coneflowers, they are native of north America and now found in gardens throughout the world.

They are extremely hardy and grow in all conditions and require very little looking after, if the flowers look poorly developed you may wish to give a bit of fertilizer to pep them up.

The flowers can span 10 cm and are full of pollen which attracts the butterflies and bees. Its strong stems can reach 5ft in height, therefore it is best to plant them towards the rear of the beds.

Aster lateriflorus 'Delight'

Aster lateriflorus 'Delight'

Asters - or Michaelmas Daisies as they are commonly called - are great plants for late summer and autumn flower power. Many Asters - Michaelmas Daisies - are normally unharmed by the first mild frosts, and can flower right through November.

They are normally hardy perennials - dying down each winter to greet us again in the spring. (Not a bad way of life!)

They probably lost much of their popularity, in that the older varieties were seemingly all of that same shade of blue - spreading all over the place - and needing support.

Asters are not fussy about soil conditions - or much else for that matter


Assortment of Zinnias

Zinnia's bring an explosion of colourful petals to your garden as well as Butterflies and Bees.

Zinnia's are extremely easy to grow from seed and easy to maintain. There are dwarf varieties which grow 6 to 12 inches in height and the others can reach 4ft. They grow quickly and love the sun, be mindful in your planting position and the choice of variety, all varieties come in a magnitude of colours, shades of orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow and there are also bi-color and tri-color varieties. Leaves are pale to mid-green.

Zinnias come in a wide variety of flower shapes: star shaped, daisies, dahlias, spiders, buttons, domes, and quill-leaf cactus shapes. Within those shapes, there are also singles, semi-doubles and doubles headed flowers, which makes them a favourite for the garden.

How to Attract Butterflies with Sugar Water

Assortment of Zinnias

Another solution to attract Butterflies to your garden is to make a butterfly feeder. This is an extremely easy method, its so easy, it like cheating.

Butterflies are attracted to and like 'Sugar Water', its that simple. Just suspend an old plate from a tree or something similar, cut and place an old sponge onto the plate. Add your sugar water and wait.

To make the Sugar Solution, simply add 5 table spoons of sugar to 250 ml of water, stir and heat it on the stove until it is disolved. Wait to cool down and serve onto the sponge.

Simple method and very effective.


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