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Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden

by User Not Found | May 30, 2013

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While your garden may be a place of rest and relaxation for you, it is also an ecological system all on its own - a habitat for many of our native insects and animals. A wildlife friendly garden doesn’t mean having to allow you garden go wild. With some thought and planning your garden can be a haven for both you and your local wildlife - and you can feel satisfied as you sit back in your garden that you are doing your bit for the environment!

All creatures require food and shelter to survive - so the best way to make a wildlife friendly garden is to think about the wildlife you want to attract and then provide food and shelter for those animals and insects. To start with, we will take a look at what you can do to attract more native butterflies to your garden and help support their dwindling numbers.

Butterflies in the Garden
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here are few sights prettier than a butterfly flitting from flower to flower in your garden, and making a few simple changes can ensure your garden is a paradise for these beautiful creatures. Butterflies like to flutter and linger in sunny spots - ensure you place plants in sunny areas to entice butterflies to visit your garden and make it their home. Key to attracting them into your garden is ensuring that you have both plants the butterflies like to feed on, and plants that caterpillars like to feed on - or host plants - this way adult butterflies will happily lay their eggs in your garden, ensuring you have a constantly replenishing population. Reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides in your garden also ensures a safer environment. If you want butterflies in your garden you will need to accept that caterpillars will feed on the leaves of your plants - chewed leaves are a sign you are doing the right thing!

Different flowers will attract different butterflies - here are some examples of host plants and feeding plants that attract our more common Irish butterflies.

Host Plants

  • Nettle - The most beautiful of our native butterflies, the peacock and the red admiral, lay their eggs on nettle plants (for the more dedicated butterfly gardeners). The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly also lays its eggs on the nettle plant.
  • Sunflower - Painted Lady Butterflies.
  • Violets - Silver-washed Fritillary
  • Elm - Comma
  • Willow - Comma
  • Holly - Holly Blue
  • Ivy - Holly Blue
  • Nasturism - Small White, Green Veined White, Large White
  • Sorrel - Small Copper
  • Clover - Clouded Yellow

Beautiful Butterflies
Adult Food Plants

  • Aster - Red Admiral
  • Bluebell - Peacock, Large White, Green Veined White, Small White, Orange Tip
  • Buddleia - Also known as the butterfly bush - it will attract most adult species of butterfly
  • Buttercup - Holly Blue, Dark Green Frittillary, Small Copper
  • Cosmos - Painted Lady
  • Cowslip - Brimstone
  • Daisy - Small White, Small Copper
  • Forget-me-not - Holly Blue
  • Heather - Painted Lady, Small Copper
  • Ivy - Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell
  • Primrose - Small Tortoiseshell
  • Privet - Comma, Orange Tip, Small White
  • Zinnia - Painted Lady
Let me know how you get on attracting butterflies into your garden!

Happy Gardening,


Angela's Bio

I've been a Horticulturalist with CountryLife Tullamore since April 2010. I am passionate about all things gardening and have been involved in the gardening industry from a young age as my family had an export plant Nursery and Garden Centre, where the seeds of my garden interests were sown. I have a National Diploma in Horticulture from Merrist Wood College, Surrey, UK. and a Certificate in Training and Continuing Education from National University of Ireland Maynooth. My experience has involved working and managing various Award Winning Garden Centres from 3 to 5 star grades. I also have delivered FETAC courses in Horticulture and evening classes at Athlone Institute of Technology – if you have a question or query on anything gardening related I would love to help! Angela