Bees and Butterflies

Community Community General Gardening Fruit Bees and Butterflies

This topic contains 14 replies, has 15 voices, and was last updated by  Davorka 6 years, 1 month ago.

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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!



    I have inherited a large patch of lemon balm which the bees love in later summer, but it can spread quickly so keep it under control. The foliage has a nice scent too.



    Dear Matthew,
    It is really great that you are doing something for the butterflies and bees.
    I too am creating a front garden with pollinators in mind. So far I have put in a Rosa Rugosa hedge to create a windbreak, and used single flowered roses to get the shape of the 4 triangular beds with lots of stuff underplanting them. I hope the bees will like the roses but it is my garden and I like roses!
    I use this book to guide me ‘Plants for Bees’ by Kirk & Howes – it is really good but £25 – makes a nice birthday gift. I also consult this website which is very useful – if you find her research on plants that bees visit it is very interesting, she also supplies mailorder suitable plants.
    I am trying to put in things that will flower in Autumn – so Sedum Autumn Joy, late flowering Hebe, single flowered dahlias, mich daisies. And some early flowers like snowdrops but not the doubles. You need to avoid anything that is double flowered as it is too difficult to get the nectar. Most bedding plants that you get in garden centres are useless for insects. Flowers with a nice landing area are good. Bees prefer to feed in the sun, but bumblebees will cope with shade thanks to their more furry bodies. I also found bees love Nepeta – and Summer Magic is good long flowering, and Phacelia is easy as an annual, and much visited. If you need a climber – passionflowers are visited a lot and honeysuckle of course. I have a row of lavender Gigantum on my allotment and it was heaving with bees etc last summer and it has a long flowering season compared to some lavenders, and as someone else has mentioned they don’t seem to go near sweet peas but runner beans seem ok.
    I could probably go on quite a long time about this subject but am sure this is quite enough.



    Matthew – if you let comfrey flower before cutting it back for mulch/compost, bees love it. My compromise is keeping my prime ten comfrey plants for mulch and compost whilst letting one other flower for longer.

    Tomatoes tend to attract bees. I grow mine in pots so they can be protected when the rain comes, but there are always bees around them in June and July.

    I started putting in some perennials last summer like Wallflower, Lavender and Lovage which have established and should hopefully flower this year. I sowed them in spring, planted out midsummer and they have survived winter well. I also grew some borage which I have left to self seed – plenty of flowers attracting insects last year.

    A good place to search is the Agroforestry Research Trust website shop – they have a lot of interesting plants, perennials, shade loving/tolerant, insect attractors. They also indicate mature height, which means you can plan for everything to see sun to the degree you desire.


    Hi, hyssop is a good choice 🙂



    Hi Matthew, broad bean plants attract bumble bees in large numbers and you benefit from the harvest as well. Be aware that different types of bee need different types of flower.
    Bumble bees have long tongues and like tubular flowers such as comfrey and beans that they crawl up into. Honey bees have very short tongues so need small flat flowers like lavender or cow parsley.



    Last year our mint patch sounded like the whole bee hive was on it but it is invasive and grows well especially in a no dig bed




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