Pollinating insects such as bees and butterfly’s are hugely important and garden designers and garden owners are in a prime position to use more of the plants that are perfect for pollinators, simply by a) being familiar with the plants that are the most attractive to pollinating insects, and b) using more of them in our gardens, garden designs and planting schemes.

The RHS has a very useful list of recommended plants that are perfect for pollinators. This list is categorised by season and type of plant and is a great reference source.

http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/pdfs/RHS_Pollinators_PlantList

When it comes to choosing plants that are likely to be attractive to pollinating insects there are some simple rules-of-thumb to follow.

1. Opt for flowers with single blooms and avoid plants with double or multi petaled flowers. These flowers tend to lack nectar and pollen and so are of little benefit to wildlife.

For example:

ATTRACTIVE

AVOID

2. Use a variety of flowerhead forms thereby attracting a potentially wider variety of beneficial insects.

For example:

SPIRES

     

BUTTONS and GLOBES

   

UMBELS

   

DAISIES

   

3. Aim for a selection of plants in the garden that are attractive to pollinators and flower at different times of the year.

For example:

Winter / Spring ~ Crocus, Hellebores, Pulmonaria

Spring / Summer ~ Ajuga reptans, Lamium, Campanula

Summer ~ Aquilegia, Foeniculum, Echinops, Monarda, Knautia

Summer / Autumn ~ Aster, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Anemone

4. Create groups of flowers.

Planting the same flowers in groups or drifts creates a mass of one type of flower. Not only does this look good its also more likely to attract pollinators.

For further information about gardening for wildlife the Wild About Gardens website is a great resource:

http://www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk/index.aspx