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Hi, we're working on a wildlife friendly garden and we're growing many things for the bees and the butterflies. We have quite a few things in our garden which have been flowering for a few weeks which the bees are quite happy with. However, we've seen quite a few butterflies around but we don't seem to have any suitable flowers for them, so what should I grow for next year which is early flowering and will keep the butterflies happy?

Suggestions much appreciated!

Thanks Dove, we are still in the very beginning of our project, which is trying to grow as many different plants as possible! We have this one butterfly that keeps coming back but I don't see it going to any flowers, it's attracted to our fire pit and keeps sitting on it, not sure there's much for it there!

Was going to get some Sweet Rocket seeds but had to cull it on account that our list was too big, will put that at the top of next year's list!

We have quite a few things on the list in that pdf, but mostly the autumn nectar plants, I heard Aubretia can get out of control and self seed everywhere which is why I cut that one from the list, but I have seen many gardens with it in bringing lovely early colour.


butterflies will be looking for the leaves of food plants for the larvae so they can lay eggs on them.


Aubretia's very easy to control - so many things get labelled as invasive quite needlessly, all that's needed is a bit of gardening! 

What sort of butterfly is visiting your firepit?


Janet  Rodway

The early Flower for the bees & Butterflies is Coltsfoot it can be planted in your wild garden or rockery. I have a group on FB Gardening for the Honey Bees, Bumblebees, & Butterflies if you would like to have a look I have studied this four 5 years and have good list of what flowers you need to grow all though the year for the Bees & Butterflies. You might have to go to my name first to find a link.  

Skimmias at this time of year attract plenty of bees.  From mid summer agastaches ( the humming bird plant)  are great for bees and butterflies.


Pulmonaria rubra is my earliest of early bee plants. Usually has the odd flower on new year's day and still flowering now

Jim Macd

Get some Wild Wall Flowers, they're very easy from seed and will flower every week of the year once they're seeding themselves so you'll always have something for a passing b/f. Iberis, is also good. Any native plant but they like small trumpet like flower such as any of the brassicas as above. Lady's Smock will also feed the larvae so don't forget you will get more adults if you can feed the larvae so go native as much as possible unless you know the non-native will do the trick

Janet  Rodway

Just order Skimmia Verdun & I have Agastache. I am not sure our weather conditions are OK for the Pulmonaria Nutcutlet, I will try some of the Wild Wall Flowers. Our field are full of Lady's Smock at the moment. Jim 

Jim Macd

There's a two native lungworts Pulmonaria longifolia & Pulmonaria obscure plus the common Pulmonaria officinalis which is thought of as native though introduced, mine flowers in December and are only just finishing. More suggestions: Alyssum, Ivy, Dandelion are really good, clover, Aubrieta, Grape Hyacinths, Ajuga repens, Aquilegia vulgaris, Berberis, Caltha palustris, heather,  Basically any species plant that flowers will have evolved to attract pollinators. So if it's not a species and you don't know it's fertile then stay clear of it. I would go native every single time and that way you'll stand a very good chance of feeding larvae too. After all no larvae, no adults. Here's a list of native plants and a list of food plants. I know you're asking for earlies but if you look out for what's flowering at the period of interest and then go only for the un-named species form then you won't go far wrong.

Janet Rodway wrote (see)

 Our field are full of Lady's Smock at the moment. Jim 

Yeah, such a lovely flower too. I've had to introduce it to my garden despite it growing in profusion in the meadows just a mile away and I've even spotted it up the road by the post box.  

Janet  Rodway

I have a group on Facebook. ( Gardening for the Honey Bee, Bumblebees, & Butterflies.) You are welcome to have a look and join if you want. I am going through a year of what flowers are needed in the garden to supply the Bees & Butterflies with the food they need throughout the year. This does include Hovers, Wild Bees & Birds 


We have little pockets of wildflowers around the garden, poppies, cornflowers, marigolds, honesty and lots of lavender....... and quite a few others. The garden isn't huge but we do get bees and butterflies, little grandson loves watching them! A lot of our flowers are planted with insects in mind and try to stay well clear of pesticides.

I think I saw a holly blue the other afternoon, only the second time I've spotted one.







One of the most valuable plants is the humble nettle as it is a food plant for several kinds of caterpillar.  Flowers are fine for nectar, but if the caterpillars have nothing to eat they're done for!

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