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Big Butterfly Count

Adding colour to your garden

When people talk about adding colour to their garden they are usually talking about creating a living canvas using plants and trees of different hues. There is, however, another way to add a layer of living colour to your garden by introducing plants and shrubs that will attract a mesmerising array of butterflies and daytime flying moths.

Certain flowers and shrubs are like fuelling stations for butterflies and moths, adding a vibrant splash of colour to your garden and providing these beautiful insects with valuable nectar. Indeed, if planned properly, your garden can become a place where butterflies can feed, reproduce, shelter and hibernate whilst providing you with the satisfaction of watching and helping to preserve these flying works of art.

The good news is that you don’t need a vast garden or acres of space to create a butterfly haven: the smallest of gardens can be adapted to attract butterflies and even a planted pot or window box can become a butterfly magnet.

Here are some top tips for attracting butterflies to your garden, balcony or roof terrace

  • Butterflies like warmth so choose sunny, sheltered spots when planting nectar plants.
  • Choose different plants to attract a wider variety of species. Place the same types of plant together in blocks.
  • Try to provide flowers right through the butterfly season. Spring flowers are vital for butterflies coming out of hibernation and Autumn flowers help butterflies build up their reserves for winter.
  • Prolong flowering by deadheading flowers, mulching with organic compost, and watering well to keep the plants healthy. Plants that are well-watered will produce far more nectar for hungry butterflies.
  • Don't use insecticides and pesticides. They kill butterflies and many pollinating insects as well as ladybirds, ground beetles and spiders.
  • Don’t worry if you can only plant one pot by planting just one pot in each of the UK's estimated 22 million gardens, nature lovers can provide pollinators with an important source of food and shelter throughout the spring and summer.

Planting suggestions:

  • Aubretia, Aubrieta 'Doctor Mules'; a plant that produces rich violet or blue flowers in May and June.
  • Sweet rocket, Hesperis matronalis; scented plant that produces white, violet or purple flowers from May to August.
  • Red valerian, Centranthus ruber; a cottage garden plant that produces clusters of red flowers from mid-summer through to autumn. Great for dry soil.
  • Lavender, Lavandula; a familiar garden favourite, producing white, pink, blue or purple aromatic flowers during the summer months. Flowers and foliage are used for making pot-pourri.
  • Honesty, Lunaria annua; a tall plant with heart-shaped leaves and sweet-smelling pink or violet-purple flowers from April to June.
  • Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum; a plant that produces spiny flower-heads of pinkish purple from mid- to late summer.
  • Small scabious, Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue'; a long-flowering plant that produces lavender-blue flowers from late spring well into autumn.
  • Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii; this plant produces cone-shaped clusters of tiny flowers in either purple, white, pink, or red. Irresistible to butterflies!
  • Golden rod, Solidago 'Goldenmosa'; a clump-forming border plant that produces feathery, golden flower-heads in late summer and early autumn.
  • Ivy, Hedera helix; an evergreen climbing vine that will provide winter nectar for the few remaining butterflies in your garden

The Big Butterfly Count 2017 takes place between 14th July – 6th August 2017 so what better time to attract more butterflies and daytime flying moths into your garden? Butterfly Conservation have a fantastic guide to creating butterfly garden, which you can find on their website. For further details about The Big Butterfly Count visit