The best flowers for hoverflies
We reveal the best plants to grow for attracting hoverflies.
Hoverflies are fantastic, fascinating insects to have in the garden.
Many hoverflies have evolved to resemble unpalatable or stinging insects like bees and wasps, while remaining harmless themselves, to deter would-be predators – a type of mimicry called Batesian mimicry.
Unlike honeybees and bumblebees that have 'tongues' for accessing and drinking nectar, most hoverflies have simple mouthparts with no tongue. This means they prefer to visit flowers with easily accessible nectar and pollen, so most tubular flowers like foxgloves, lavender and penstemons are off the menu.
As well as helping to pollinate the flowers in your gardens, the larvae of many hoverflies have a voracious appetite for aphids and other garden pests, so it's just as important to provide for them as you would other pollinators.
In this No Fuss video guide, wildlife gardening author Kate Bradbury reveals which plants to grow to attract hoverflies to your garden:
More on gardening for pollinators:
Umbellifers like this yellow-flowered fennel have broad flowerheads comprised of lots of small flowers, with nectar that can be easily accessed. Honeybees are also fond of the flowers. Easy to grow, doing best in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
- Buy fennel from Crocus and Thompson & Morgan
This fragrant evergreen has beautiful white flowers, with protein-rich pollen held on the end of numerous stamens, and nectar at their bases. Myrtle is good for a warm, sheltered spot in full sun.
- Buy myrtle from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
Single-flowered dahlias are fantastic for a number of pollinators, hoverflies included, and they're easy to grow from seed. Take a look at some of our favourite single-flowered dahlias to grow.
- Buy single-flowered dahlias from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
A UK native, Eupatorium cannabinum grows best in moist soil in full sun or partial shade, where the dusky pink flowerheads attract a huge range of pollinators including hoverflies, honeybees, bumblebees and foraging beetles. Watch Monty move a eupatorium.
- Buy eupatorium from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
Michaelmas daisies or autumn asters provide a profuse show of nectar-bearing flowers that hoverflies and other pollinators will flock to. Watch Monty Don plant asters.
- Buy Michaelmas daisies from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
Aquatic plants like these marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) will help to open up your pond or bog garden to pollinators. Hoverflies have been found to show a preference for yellow and white flowers, so these aquatic marigolds are perfect.
More like this
- Buy marsh marigolds from Crocus and Gardening Express
Though often regarded as weeds (particularly the wild species), knapweeds (Centaurea spp.) are prolific nectar producers and their flowers look gorgeous in a wildflower meadow. Equally popular with hoverflies is the creeping thistle, Cirsium arvense.
- Buy knapweeds from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy creeping thistle from Crocus, Sarah Raven and Thompson & Morgan
Apple trees have relatively large, open flowers that are easy for hoverflies to access. Other trees with suitable blossom include pears, plum, hawthorn and blackthorn.
- Buy apple trees from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
Like fennel, wild carrots are umbellifers, possessing the bright clusters of tiny flowers that hoverflies enjoy. They're ideal for a sunny spot in an informal border. In shadier spots, try umbellifers like astrantias or Selinum wallichianum.
- Buy wild carrots from Crocus, Sarah Raven and Thompson & Morgan
The bright blooms of tagetes, or French marigolds, are an effective attractant for hoverflies. These hardy annuals are easy to sow and grow from seed, so a little effort will reward you and the pollinators with masses of blooms.
- Buy tagetes from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
Even more flowers for hoverflies
- Buy hylotelephiums from Crocus, Gardening Express and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy Calendula from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy sweet alyssum from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy achilleas from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy ageratum from Suttons and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy heleniums from Crocus, Hayloft and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy ivy from Crocus, Suttons and Thompson & Morgan
- Buy Oriental poppies from Crocus, Suttons and Thompson & Morgan
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