The top five nectar-rich flowers to attract bees and butterflies
Britain’s bee and butterfly populations are in decline, so there has never been a more important time to fill garden beds, plant pots and balcony spaces with nectar-rich plants for pollinators.
With reports from the IUCN list stating that 24% of Europe’s bumblebee species are now threatened with extinction, and the State of UK Butterflies 2022 report summarising that long-term trends show an 80% decline in butterfly species since the 1970’s, choosing the right plants to attract bees and butterflies is crucial for their survival.
“Buglife’s annual Bugs Matter survey has tracked an alarming decline in insect numbers across the UK in excess of 60% in the past 20 years. We can all do our bit to arrest these declines and planting for pollinators is a great first step on the path to recovery,” comments Paul Hetherington, Director of Fundraising and Communication at Buglife, a CJ Wildlife partner.
Here, wildlife expert CJ Wildlife shares its top five plants to include in your garden for pollinators.
Buddleja, also known as the butterfly bush, is a beautiful fragrant plant and is a favourite nectar source with butterflies, hence its more commonly known name. Flowers come in a variety of vibrant colours including blue, purple, pink and white, adding a splash of colour and wonderful fragrance to any garden throughout the summer months. Sit back and watch the butterflies flock! As buddleja is not a native plant it can swamp the garden, so keep your buddleja in pots and regularly prune to keep it from taking over.
Rudbeckia, more commonly known as Black-Eyed Susan is a pollinator’s heaven. These beautiful daisy-like flowers, with prominent cone centre, will grow in almost any soil conditions, reaching heights of around 60cm. Its bright yellow petals attract pollinators to its nectar and pollen rich centre, providing a sturdy platform for butterflies to land on. Throughout August and September these majestic plants add a burst of colour to any garden, supplying sustenance for wildlife towards the end of the growing season.
Lavender is a popular aromatic, perennial plant loved by bees and butterflies alike. Its beautiful fragrant summer flowers, which are known for its shades of purple, blue, pink, and white, are a hive of activity during the warmer months. These hardy, drought tolerant plants are happy in well-drained soil and thrive in containers, gravel gardens, and sunny balconies, adding a Mediterranean style to any garden.
Roses are a lovely addition to any garden, however some roses are more suitable for pollinators than others. Natural roses such as the dog rose and CJ Wildlife’s Bee Perfect Rose are ideal due to their open flowers. The positioning of the petals creates the perfect shape for bees to easily access the pollen and nectar at the centre of the flower. Plant roses in late autumn, ready for flowering from June until September.
Sunflowers are a treat for the eyes in any garden and are also the perfect feast for bees and butterflies! Two varieties of sunflower recommended by the RHS Perfect for Pollinators plant list are the common sunflower and the cucumber leaf sunflower. The nectar and pollen produced by sunflowers are sought after by honeybees and bumblebees, especially during autumn when there are fewer pollen sources available. Sunflowers also have extrafloral nectaries in the bracts and upper leaves, providing bees with a goldmine of nectar!
In addition to these wonderful pollinator-friendly plants, another easy way to add colour and nectar to your garden is by scattering wildflower seeds. The Buzzy® Organic Bees Flower Mix from CJ Wildlife contains an array of bee-friendly seeds to sow in flower beds and pots, creating a wildlife haven. Simply scatter the seeds, rake into the soil, and wait for your beautiful wildflower patch to blossom!
For more information on planting for wildlife visit www.birdfood.co.uk