Most butterflies and moths have a long tongue - or proboscis - through which they can suck up the nectar from deep inside the flowers of certain plants.
They do not feed on the readily available pollen, but push their tongue past the pollen and into the depths of the flower, wherein lies reservoirs of life giving nectar, which is not available to many other types of insects. Most suitable flowers for Butterflies to feed on, are made up of many small tubular shaped flowers combining to make a large flower head.
Once you are armed with this simple bit of information, it becomes easy to select the best plants which will allow butterflies to access this nectar. You can then attract Butterflies to your garden. Bees have a similar feeding habit, so they will also be encouraged.
In the UK, most butterflies do not normally appear until early summer - June. A few are in evidence before then, so maybe also plants such as Bergenia for the early Butterflies.
A great plant for attracting butterflies to your garden - verbena bonariensis, a perennial which will also seed itself everywhere, and flower from seed in first year. A welcome feast for the comma Butterfly.
Best known shrub for attracting Butterflies is the Butterfly Bush -Buddleia (Buddleja) davidii types. here seen with magnificent specimen of a Peacock Butterfly.
Tortoiseshell butterfly on Bracteantha - the everlasting flower. Here the butterfly's tongue -proboscis- can be seen reaching down into the flower's reservoir of nectar. This long tongue, makes it possible for the butterfly to reach into the trumpet-like individual florets of Buddleias, Verbenas, Hebes, Sedums and other similarly constructed flowers.
The following is a short list - but more than ten - of our best plants for attracting butterflies into your garden.
Buddleia, Escallonia, Syringa - Lilac, Berberis, Kolkwitzia, Lavender, Rosemary. All of these have tubular or trumpet-like individual flowers.
Shrubs Main Section
Verbena, Aster - Michaelmas daisy, Cowslip, Echinops ritro -the Globe Thistle, Hyssop, Marjoram, Origanum, Sage, Agastache, Most daisy-type flowers, Kniphofia - Red Hot Poker, Sedum - light coloured varieties
By David Hughes - email@example.com