Set up a ‘nectar café’ by planting flowers for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies

Pollinators and flowers illustration

Many of our prettiest insects feed on nectar, so need flowering plants for their survival. Butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies all need sources of nectar and pollen to thrive. As they travel from flower to flower, they also pollinate them, enabling them to set seed or bear fruit. So, setting up a nectar café benefits both your plants and you, allowing you to enjoy the flitting and fluttering of beautiful butterflies.

Setting up a nectar café not only benefits your garden, but allows you to enjoy the fluttering of beautiful butterflies too

Forget me not illustration

Setting up your nectar café:

  • Choose a sheltered sunny spot
  • Place each plant in groups or drifts so that the colour and scent are easy to detect
  • Prolong the flowering season – select plants so that you have a show of flowers from early spring to late autumn
  • choose flowers with a simple (often flat) structure, like old cottage varieties, as they are the easiest for insects to feed from
  • Remember to provide a night-time feast for moths. Plant some night-scented flowers.
  • Add herbs to the mix as they are highly attractive to insects, or design a dedicated herb garden

Nectar plant suggestions:

Early seasonMid seasonLate season
Aubretia sppHeather – Erica cinereaConeflower – Echinacea spp.
English bluebell – Hyacinthoides non-scriptaLady’s bedstraw – Galium verumFrench marigold – Tagetes patula
Currant – Ribes spp.Lavender – Lavandula angustifoliaGolden rod – Solidago spp.
Grape hyacinth – Muscari armeniacumCommon mallow – Malva sylvestriHoneysuckle – Lonicera periclymenum
Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalisPurple toadflax – Linaria purpureaIce plant – Sedum spectabile
Primrose – Primula vulgarisRock cress – Arabis spp.Ivy – Hedera helix
Sweet violet – Viola odorataSea holly – Eryngium maritimumMeadow saffron – Colchicum autumnale
Winter aconite – Eranthis hyemalisVerbena – Verbena bonariensisMichaelmas daisy – Aster pyrenaeus 
Wood anemone – Anemone nemorosaWallflower – Erysimum cheiriCommon sunflower – Helianthus annuus
Alyssum – Alyssum
 Red valerian – Centranthus ruber

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