Bees and Butterflies

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    Hi all,

    I would like to attract more bees and more particularly Butterflies this year to my garden. I have done some research on certain plants which would attract these but I was wondering if anyone has any plants which successfully attracts friendly winged insects.

    Many Thanks,




    Almost any flower is good and for butterflies, plants that flower after midsummer are great like Echinacea, Salvias and Gaura.



    Matthew, globe artichoke flowers are loved by bees. I found about six or seven one day last summer, having a great time on just one flower head!



    Matthew,Last year I grew two patches of Nasturtiums on seperate parts of my allotment.They went crazy,climbing up and over fences and looked stunning when they flowered.I did this purely to attract bees to my allotment but I can honestly say that at any time of the day I had to make a concentrated search to find any sign of life of any kind on the flowers.Now this could be down to other factors I don’t know about but I would not recommendgrowing nasturtiums.



    Hi Matthew,

    My allotment is planned as a potager, so I grow a lot of flowers alongside my veg and fruit and always have a wealth of bees and butterflies. Some ideas:

    – for early spring, I let some brassicas (purple sprouting broccoli, kale) go to flower. This provides a source of food for bees early in the season. Limanthes (poached egg plant) is also good for this time of year. For later spring, flowers such as sweet rocket are useful.

    – Summer favourites include English marigolds, cornflowers, poppies, sweet peas – all easily grown annuals. Sunflowers are great for bees, butterflies and the seedheads feed birds.

    Lavender is a favourite of bees and butterflies – I have planted an edge of my plot with a lavender border and it is always alive with numerous insects when in flower.

    Our allotment site “cultivates” a patch of stinging nettles, which becomes a breeding ground for certain types of butterfly. We also have a couple of buddleia bushes which butterflies love.

    You can find more ideas by searching the internet for flowers for bees or butterflies. Many seed companies now identify flowers that are particularly attractive to pollinators with a symbol of a bee.

    Best wishes



    The all-time favourites in my garden are Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea, and common blue borage, they are full of buzzing bees and bumblebees all summer. But it’s interesting how it seems to differ in different gardens, my Verbena bonariensis hardly ever have any insects on them nor do the sweet peas. I have also bought flowers with the bee symbol on them and they hardly attracted any bees or other insects. I’m not saying none of them do, just that they don’t necessarily even if there is the sign. Best try different ones out and see what works best in your garden. Good luck.



    Be wary of buying plants with labels saying good for pollinators. Unless they’re organic they may have been sprayed with insecticides which harm bees. The RHS has mentioned this recently. It’s hardly an organic organisation but at least it has been made aware of the hypocrisy which goes on in the horticultural industry.



    Another good insect support plant, especially bees, is alfalfa (lucerne) It also roots deeply and aids drainage and mineral migration. Can be grown from “sprouting” seed and grown on. May be perennial in many areas ( I’m NE Hampshire) Can be ‘topped’ to add to composting materials, or left to self seed .May become invasive!

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