Native plants are important food plants for the larvae of moths and butterflies, and provide nuts and berries for birds, mice and other mammals. Although native plants will support the greatest diversity of wildlife, non-native plants will still attract plenty of wildlife, providing shelter, berries, pollen and nectar. Using a mixture of native and non-native plants gives you greater flexibility in your garden design, whilst still attracting lots of garden wildlife! Use the tables below to select useful native and non-native plants for your wildlife garden.
When choosing flowering plants for wildlife, select single-flowered varieties for bees and butterflies as they can’t access double flowers for pollen and nectar.
|British native||Flowering period||Non-native||Flowering period|
|Cornflower||Cherry Pie (Heliotropium)|
|Field Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis)||Echinacea|
|Lady's Bedstraw||Honesty (Lunaria annua)|
|Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)||Lavender|
|Ox-eye Daisy||Michaelmas Daisy (Aster)|
|Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)||Night-scented stock|
|Purple Loosestrife||Poached Egg Plant|
|Red Campion||Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)|
|Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)||Sunflower|
|St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)||Sweet William|
|Viper's Bugloss||Tobacco plant (Nicotiana)|
Both native and non-native trees and shrubs provide invaluable shelter for all sorts of creatures, and evergreen shrubs ensure there is shelter all year round. Don’t let a small garden put you off native trees and shrubs. Many are suitable for coppicing (cutting as you would Dogwoods for their winter stems), including Alder, Hazel, Hawthorn and Willow. This helps restrict their size whilst still benefitting wildlife.
|British native||Interesting features||Non-native||Interesting features|
|Alder (Alnus glutinosa)||Berberis|
|Dog rose (Rosa canina)||Eleagnus|
|Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)||Escallonia|
|Elder (Sambucus nigra)||Flowering cherry (Prunus)|
|Pussy Willow (Salix caprea)||Skimmia|
|Rowan||Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)|
|Sweet Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa)||Wisteria|
|Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)|
For a further list of wildlife friendly plants, take a look at our 'Plants for wildlife' guide.
Native plants are important food plants for much of the UK's wildlife, although non-native plants will still provide shelter, berries, pollen and nectar.
Both native and non-native trees and shrubs provide invaluable shelter for wildlife. Although strawberry tree (Arbutus) is not native to the UK it's evergreen foliage provides year-round shelter and the autumn flowers are an excellent late nectar source for bees.
Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.