Flora for Butterflies

Nectar Border for Butterflies

Butterflies are most active from April to September each year.  So providing a perennial flower bed at this time of year enhances the garden with colour as well as maximising on the number of fluttering visitors to the flowers. Butterflies can see a wider range of colours including red yet they have a poor sense of smell. So butterfly pollinated flowers are brightly coloured but odourless. They prefer to feed from a cluster of small blooms like sedum by perching or walking around them and probing the individual blossoms with their tongues. Each flower tube length is suitable for the butterfly’s tongue. Butterflies lay their eggs in long grass like sedges and fescues, nettles, thistles, brassicas, docks, sorrel and nasturtiums to name but a few.

Wild herbs also provide an important habitat like Clover, Ragwort, Bedstraw, Thyme and Bird’s Foot Trefoil are essential for the smaller varieties like Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterfly caterpillars. Whereas Verbena bonariensis caters to the larger butterflies like Painted lady and Peacock.  It is advantageous to plant in dense groups to secure large number of varied visitors.

See the table below for more on wild flowers that attract butterflies.

Native flowers for Butterflies available throughout the growing season


Flowering season Common name Latin name Height Soil type
Spring to summer Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta Mid level Rich humus soil
Clover Trifolium pratense Ground cover Moist well drained soil
Cuckoo flower Cardamine pratensis Mid level
Daisy Bellis perennis Ground cover All soil types
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Ground level All soil types
Primrose Primula vulgaris Ground level Moist fertile soil
Late summer to autumn Marjoram Origanum vulgare Ground level Well drained soil
Mint Mentha Ground level Moist soil
Ivy Helix hedera Ground cover All soil types
Red Valerian Centranthus rubra Mid level Well drained sandy soil
Knapweed Centaurea nigra Mid level Well drained soil
Devils bit Scabious Mid level Well drained soil

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