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Plants for wildlife

Plants for wildlife


There are so many benefits to attracting wildlife into your garden. Apart from saving the decline of our native species, garden wildlife also acts as a natural pest control, preventing the need to spray harmful chemicals all over your garden. If you grow fruit and vegetables, you’ll need the help of bees to pollinate many of your crops. Contrary to popular belief wildlife gardens needn’t be messy! Well-maintained hedges and shrubs are perfect for nesting birds and insects, and a flowing herbaceous border will attract all sorts of beneficial insects to your garden. You could even create a container garden for wildlife with some of the plants listed below! Planting a wildlife garden couldn’t be easier; read on for more ideas on how to make a wildlife garden.


Plants for bees

The number of bees in the UK is declining at an alarming rate, yet there are few explanations. It's suggested that the decline in native and wild flower rich grassland could be a cause. Bees play a key role in pollinating many crops and some 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bees! Bees are active between February and October and it is crucial they have enough food during this time to help them through the winter and early spring. You can help by creating a wildlife garden and choosing a selection of the plants for bees listed below. For more information on how you can help bees take a look at our ‘Save the Bees’ article.


Plants for butterflies

There are 58 species of butterfly native to the UK and many of these are under threat of extinction. Recent reports have shown, however, that recent conservation efforts have given some of our most threatened species a boost. You can do your bit to help the butterflies by planting nectar-rich flowers in your garden. Take a look at the list below for inspiration. For more information on helping butterflies take a look at our ‘Helping to conserve the UK’s butterflies’ page.


Plants for birds

Birds are welcome visitors to the garden and will eat aphids, caterpillars and slugs for you! You can attract birds into your garden by installing a bird bath and by putting out extra food throughout the harsh winter months. You can also grow a wide range of plants for birds, which produce berries, seeds or nuts at the end of the season. Plants can also be used to provide shelter or nesting sites for birds, protecting them from cats and other predators.

For more simple ideas on how you can attract wildlife to your garden take a look at our article about wildlife gardening.


Top tips when planting for wildlife:

  1. Choose single-flowered varieties of plants. Bees and butterflies can’t access double flowers for pollen and nectar.
  2. Leave some of your culinary herbs to flower - they are a rich food source for bees and butterflies and will leave your garden buzzing on warm days!
  3. Leave your autumn clear up until the spring. The dead remains of plants provide valuable shelter for over-wintering insects.
  4. Try not to spray your plants with insecticides as these will kill beneficial insects too. Be patient and the pests will often be eaten naturally by ladybirds, lacewings, spiders, small mammals and birds.

Spring flowering plants for attracting wildlife


Spring flowering plants
for attracting widlife
 Attracts 
Attracts Bees
 Attracts 
Attracts Butterflies
 Attracts 
Attracts Birds
 Interesting
Features 
Fruit trees e.g. Apple, Cherry, Plum, Pear and Almond trees  Fruits to attract wildlifeInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Crab apple Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowersInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Quince  Fruits to attract wildlifeInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Blackcurrants/Redcurrants  Fruits to attract wildlife
Gooseberries  Fruits to attract wildlife
Alyssum ‘Golden Queen’ Interesting Features - Scented
Aquilegia   
Aubrieta   
Berberis Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Bergenia Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Bluebells   
Crocus   
Daphne mezereum  Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Scented
Flowering Currant Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Forget-me-not  
HawthornInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
HollyInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Honesty Interesting Features - Architectural
Muscari   
PyracanthaInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Pulmonaria  Interesting Features - Attractive Foliage
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) Interesting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Scented
Heather  Interesting Features - Evergreen
Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan) Interesting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birdsInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Snowdrop   
Wallflower Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Wisteria  Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers

Summer flowering plants for attracting wildlife


Summer flowering plants
for attracting widlife
 Attracts 
Attracts Bees
 Attracts 
Attracts Butterflies
 Attracts 
Attracts Birds
 Interesting
Features 
Raspberries/blackberries  Fruits to attract wildlife
Broad beans  Vegetables to attract wildlife
Runner beans  Vegetables to attract wildlife
Alyssum Interesting Features - Scented
Allium Interesting Features - Architectural
Borage  herbs to attract wildlife
Campanula   
Chives herbs to attract wildlife
Cornflower 
Echium  
Fennel herbs to attract wildlifeInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Foxglove  Interesting Features - Attractive Foliage
Geranium   
Hebe Interesting Features - Evergreen
Helenium  
Heliotrope Interesting Features - Scented
Lavender Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Scented
Lime tree  Interesting Features - Good shelter for birds
Lupin   
Marigold   
Monarda   
Monkshood   
Phacelia   
Phlox  Interesting Features - Scented
Rosa canina & Rosa rugosa  Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruitInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)  Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Sweet William  Interesting Features - Evergreen
Verbena bonariensis  
Sage  Interesting Features - Evergreenherbs to attract wildlifeInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Rosemary  Interesting Features - Evergreenherbs to attract wildlife
Thyme Interesting Features - Evergreenherbs to attract wildlifeInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Oregano Interesting Features - Evergreenherbs to attract wildlife

Late summer/autumn flowering plants for attracting wildlife


 Late summer/autumn flowering
plants for attracting wildlife 
 Attracts 
Attracts Bees
 Attracts 
Attracts Butterflies
 Attracts 
Attracts Birds
 Interesting
Features 
Aster ‘Composition’  
Agastache foeniculum  Interesting Features - Scented
Buddleja Interesting Features - Scented
Catmint  
Dahlia (single-flowered varieties)   
Echinacea 
Eryngium  Interesting Features - Attractive Foliage
Escallonia Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Echinops Interesting Features - Architectural
Eupatorium maculatum  
Hebe Interesting Features - Evergreen
Hollyhock (single-flowered varieties)  Interesting Features - Architectural
IvyInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Good shelter for birds
Lavatera (Mallow)   
Honeysuckle Interesting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Colourful berries or fruit
Panicum  Interesting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Architectural
Scabious  
Sedum  
SunflowerInteresting Features - Architectural
TeaselInteresting Features - Architectural
Verbena bonariensis 

Plants for wildlife - Interesting Features - Scented, evergreen, attractive foliage, colourful berries and fruit, good shelter for birds, fruit, herb, vegetable, autumn leaf colour







Teasel is a valuable source of nectar for bees and butterflies, as well as attracting many seed-eating birds

Teasel is a valuable source of nectar for bees and butterflies, as well as attracting many seed-eating birds.









Plants such as Buddleja are ideal for attracting butterflies

Plants such as Buddleja are ideal for attracting butterflies.