Wildlife gardeners love to attract butterflies to their gardens. This is is not difficult if you plant nectar-rich flowers. For best results, leave some weeds growing in the garden in order to provide food plants for caterpillars.
I always allow a large patch of garlic mustard grow by the hedge because I know it is a good plant for the orange tip butterflies that frequent in my garden in the month of May.
Many cottage garden plants are nectar-rich and suitable as they have simple flowers making it easy for butterflies to reach the nectar. Ice-plants, verbena, and scabious are all good choices. I enjoy seeing the large white butterflies drinking the nectar from bluebells in my garden.
Butterfly Plants for All Seasons
Suitable Spring flowers include:- sweet rocket, aubretia, and primroses.
Whilst in Summer there are many more flowers to choose from such a lavender, buddleia, red valerian, knapweed, hebe, catmint, thyme, and heliotrope.
In the Autumn months, ice-plants, scabious and michaelmas daisies will do well and are loved by butterflies.
Caterpillar Food Plants
It is important to remember to leave some weeds as food plants for caterpillars. These include:- different types of grasses such as false brome, cocksfoot, and Yorkshire fog – enjoyed by meadow brown, hedge brown, marbled white and large skipper caterpillars.
Large and small white butterfly caterpillars feed on wild and cultivated cabbages.
Green-veined whites and orange tips caterpillars will consume ladys’ smock and garlic mustard. Brimstone caterpillars feed on both alder and purging buckthorn. Birdsfoot trefoil is the favourite of the common blue caterpillar and the painted lady caterpillar feed on different types of thistle.
Whichever weeds are growing naturally in your garden- consider leaving patches growing deliberately between your chosen flowering plants. A weed is only such called if it is unwanted. But if managed and not allowed to overtake the other plants then it should be fine. Many so-called weeds can be very attractive plants and are certainly attractive to butterflies.
I have left the nettles at the bottom of my garden but mown path between them because many butterflies lay their eggs here.
Don’t forget the moths!
These are evening creatures and will be attracted by night scented stocks, evening primrose, tobacco plants and honeysuckle.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a children’s book author, nature writer, photographer, and artist.
Find her Nature books for children on Amazon.
Wildlife articles for nature lovers: – patch reporting for the BBC Wildlife magazine.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews Children’s Author
*PARENTS* – Get your FREE play with nature activity ideas here.