Butterfly Gardening

Gardening for butterflies

 

As the official sponsor of Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count 2022, we're encouraging as many people as possible to get outdoors and plant for butterflies.

Creating your own butterfly garden will not only help struggling UK species like the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, it'll also breathe colour and life into your space - no matter where you live!

Our wildlife experts have created this simple guide to butterfly gardening, with tips and tricks on maximising your plants for wildlife. Nature doesn't discrimminate, so not matter what space you have there are LOTS of ways you can welcome butterflies into your home.

 

Butterfly Gardening

Fail to plan, plan to fail!

Assess what space you've got to work with and where the sun rises and sets. When planting for butterflies, the types of blooms you'll need require partial shade but with a minimum of six hours of access to sunshine.

Red Admiral
Red Admiral
(Vanessa atalanta)

"As a UK species, this is a butterfly you'll spot once you've planted up your garden!"

If you have a large green space, try sketching it out so you can plot where you want to plant your blooms. It'll save you time later, trust us...

Digging

Choosing your plants

Butterflies love shrubby plants, like Buddleja (Buddleja davidii) and Lavender, but it can depend on what time of year you wish to plant. Buddleja, otherwise known as the 'butterfly bush', will attract an array of species such as the red admiral, peacock and small tortoiseshell. We recommend planting Buddleja in Spring as the weather conditions are ideal for planting, but depending on how hardy your bush is, it can be planted anytime of the year! Likewise for Lavender, April and May are the best months to plant because the soil naturally warms up with increased sunshine hours plus there is moderate rainfall to keep your plants well watered. Check out our range of plants that will attract butterflies below.

Show me plants for butterflies
Buddleja 'Butterfly Bush'
Buddleja 'Butterfly Bush'
(Buddleia davidii)

"I'm a popular choice amongst butterflies. So by planting me, you'll more than likely have them flocking!"

Digging

Dig deep

If you're planting a butterfly bush, make sure you dig deep enough for it to take root and grow. If you're planting nectar-rich perennials, such as Lesser Calamint or an Ice Plant, these are best planted in long borders around a pathway or the edge of your green space.

I need the tools for the job
Trowel
Trowel
()

"Make sure you're prepared with the right garden tools before you start planning."

Wildflowers

Scatter some seeds

If you've got some flat space or soil with low fertility (appears dry with a lack of plants) that you're happy to re-wild, try scattering some wildflower seeds. We have a range of wildflower mixes packed with nutrients-rich blooms ideal for pollinators!

Look at wildflower seeds
Wildflowers
Wildflowers
()

"Scatter wildflower seeds thinly across your soil and water well. This is a great way of encouraging quick growth whilst you wait for your border plants to catch up!"

Seasonal Planting

Seasonal Planting

Section up your planting into seasonal areas that offer food earlier in the year and later in the year. For example Soapwart is loved by butterflies and bees but can be planted as early as February, ideal for attracting Brimstone butterflies. Likewise in Autumn when the Red Admiral will be looking for food, Black-eyed Susan is another great bloom for mid-autumn.

Explore seasonal plants
Brimstone Butterfly

Get ready to spot!

Now you've planted up your garden, keep it well watered and watch it bloom! You'll likely spot lots of native species fluttering in and out of your garden taking nectar. Spend 15 minutes in a sunny spot and make a note of what species you spot using Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count ID chart. It's important we report what we see, so we can monitor the status of Britain's butterflies.

I'm ready to ID butterflies
Big Butterfly Count

We're sponsoring the Big Butterfly Count 2022

And here's why...

Find out more
New to planting

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Learn how to plant different kinds of blooms, from perennials to shrubs.

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Best-Ever Butterfly Border
The Beautiful Butterfly Border
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