Butterfly Conservation
Saving butterflies, moths and our environment
Hampshire and
Isle of Wight Branch

Gardening Tips

With their splash of colour and movement, butterflies are among the most welcome visitors to our garden. Even the smallest garden can be an important haven. Garden flowers are a valuable source of nectar - the main energy source for butterflies and one that has been drastically reduced in the countryside in recent years.

Any garden can make a real difference to butterflies - the number and variety of butterflies visiting your garden will depend on partly where you live, but any garden can be made attractive to them. Butterflies favour spots that are warm and sheltered so garden layout is important. A good garden will be full of colourful flowers and have a wide range providing nectar for the adults from spring to autumn. The caterpillars of the butterflies, unlike adults, feed on one or more specific plants. For example several of our common garden butterflies lay their eggs on nettles; only the Large and Small White caterpillars will eat your cabbages.

Flowers that attract butterflies

The plants in the list below are arranged approximately by flowering times going through successive rows from left to right: thus Aubretia flowers from April to May, Ivy from October to December. With a careful choice of plants you can attract butterflies throughout the season.

Aubretia Heliotrope Hebe
Bluebell Sweet Rocket Lavender
Primrose Sweet William Marjoram
Wallflower Honeysuckle Catmint
Forget-me-not Red Valerian Lobelia
Honesty Buddelia Marguerite
Bugle Evening Primrose African Marigold
Lilac Mint French Marigold
Candytuft Purple Loosetrife Scabious
Phlox Helichrysum Michaelmas Daisy
Ice Plant Ivy  

Foodplants for caterpillars

Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell: Nettle
Painted Lady: Thistle
Large and Small White: Nasturtium, Cabbage
Holly Blue: Dogwood, Holly, Ivy
Brimstone: Alder Buckthorn, Purging Buckthorn
Common Blue: Birdsfoot Trefoil, Black Medick
Orange Tip, Green-veined White: Arabis, Honesty, Garlic Mustard

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