What to plant to attract pollinators, insects, bees, moths and butterflies to your garden
Bees and other pollinators are active in the fifesmallholder garden and woodland, from very early in Spring until the Autumn frosts. Sometimes, if you are lucky you might see a bumble bee flying in a warm winter day but rarely a honey bee. Moths and butterflies are also seasonal, some overwinter and others migrate here in good weather. In order to make sure that there is always pollen and nectar available, it’s important to have suitable plants in flower, at the appropriate time.
“We used to have 27 species of Bumble Bee in Britain, two have become extinct in the last 70 years and several more are on the critical list.”
“Bees and butterflies hibernate in winter, so don’t forage when it’s truly cold. But it’s good to have a few winter-flowering plants that bees can use on warmer days and a regular food source from March to November.”
Plant flowers in groups
Flowers clustered into groups of the same species will attract more bees than individual plants scattered through the border. Where space allows, make the clumps four feet or more in diameter.
“if you plant them they will come”
What is pollen and nectar?
Nectar – nectar is loaded with sugars and is a bee’s main source of energy.
Pollen – pollen provides a balanced diet of proteins and fats.
Bees forage for both nectar and pollen from plants and flowers. Read more.
What Is A Pollinator?
Here in Britain ‘pollinators’ means small flying insects such as hoverflies, bees, beetles, butterflies and moths.
What do I need to plant for nectar and pollen?
“Most bedding plants are absolutely useless for bees and so are most with double flowers.”
Research suggests native plants are four times more attractive to native bees and pollinators. They are also usually well adapted to your growing conditions and can thrive with minimum attention. Below is a list of plants and flowers suitable for pollinators and include pictures of ones that grow in our garden and woodland.
“Single flowered cultivars (some are marked as ‘Single Flowers’) are more useful to bees than double flowered cultivars.”
An annual is a plant that grows, flowers and sets seed all in one year.
Birds foot trefoil
Forget me not
Perennials are plants that flower and die down in the winter but return every spring/summer.
Bulbs & Corms
This honey can be sought after because of its rarity. The Hawthorn only yields nectar for a short period of time so the bees have to be quick. Read more about the Hawthorn tree.
Sweet and horse chestnut
A weed is a flower in the wrong place.
Hedera helix known as common Ivy
Rosebay willow herb
Vegetables (when left to flower)
Beans of all varieties
Kale (and other brassicas)
Oil seed rape
Poached egg plant
For more information and photographs please register for my ebook on this subject.
Websites used in the making of this article:
- A guide to pollinator friendly gardening
- What plants provide what colour of pollen?
- Information about pollen
- Edible flowers