Plants for butterflies
|Small tortoiseshell butterfly on valerian (Centranthus ruber)|
I'm grateful to the company that offered me an expensive designer butterfly feeder recently because it led me to review how many butterfly friendly plants I could grow in my garden for the same money. The answer is loads and I'm happy to say not only do I have most of them already, they also feed a wider range of these delightful visitors.
It was also a timely reminder to grab a cup of coffee and spend a relaxing 15 minutes in the garden counting butterflies for this year's Big Butterfly Count, which runs until this Sunday (6th August 2017).
For this year's count, I paid particular attention to which plants were in the butterflies' favour. They were:
- Perennial cornflower, Centaurea montana
- Globe thistle, Echinops ritro
- Perennial wallflower, Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'
- Phlox paniculata (they seem to prefer the white over the pink flowers)
- Ice plant, Sedum spectabile (NB now renamed as Hylotelephium spectabile)
- Verbena bonariensis
We'll draw a veil over the various white butterflies which have a liking for the nasturtiums up at my allotment. As NAH doesn't like brassicas, these are the only option for them on my plot.
Butterfly Conservation has a useful page about gardening for butterflies which shows their top plants for summer nectar - buddleia, Verbena bonarienis, Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve', lavender and marjoram. This page links to a much longer, downloadable list so you can ensure your garden is attractive to butterflies from March right through to November. There's also a downloadable list of the key food plants for caterpillars.
Which plants do your butterfly visitors prefer?