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Bring in the Butterflies

Add a new dimension to your garden this July with nectar-rich plants which support butterflies, the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) ‘Plant of the Moment’ theme for July.

There are a huge range of bedding plants, perennials, flowering shrubs and bulbs that produce the simple, open blooms that butterflies love, and suit virtually any site or soil you have in your garden. These act like fuelling stations for butterflies, moths, bees and other beneficial insects, providing them with the valuable nectar they need to feed on for energy.

One of the most popular is the Butterfly Bush, or Buddleja, a hardy and reliable shrub whose flowers act like magnets for butterflies. Several dwarf and compact varieties of Butterfly Bush are now available that are perfect for pots or tiny spaces, with flowers in colours from pink and white to blue, lavender, magenta and deep purple.

Some of the best flowering perennials provide long-lasting displays, with a succession of flowers opening over several months. These include varieties of Rudbeckia and Cone Flower (Echinacea), both valued for their outstanding garden performance.

Lavenders provide welcome nectar for butterflies through the summer months, while planting a range of Ice Plants (Sedum) ensures more flowers develop into autumn to feed Small Tortoiseshell and other late-flying butterflies as they prepare for hibernation.

With over 50 species of butterfly resident in the UK, and dozens more flying across from Europe, our gardens can play a vital role in ensuring their survival.

Top four plants to bring in the butterflies

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Ice Plant and Sedum
  • Cone Flower
  • Rudbeckia

Top three tips for planning and planting

Choose a range of suitable plants with different flowering periods to ensure there’s something in bloom throughout spring, summer and autumn for butterflies to feed from.
Several butterflies hibernate through winter. Adults emerging from hibernation need flowers to feed on in spring. Others require autumn blooms to stock-up on nectar to help them survive during hibernation.
While flowers are important to feed adult butterflies do remember that different plants are needed for butterflies to lay their eggs on and to feed their caterpillars.