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Bee/Butterfly friendly flowers, but space efficient. :)

Hi All,

First post so go easy. image I got my house four years ago and since then have been transforming the back garden from an overgrown (huge ugly spiky shrubs) into something attractive looking with plenty of flowers. I started with a few sets of of the mail order perennial collections to get things going, which have been great to get things up and running. But I soon realised I only wanted flowers that attracted bees (and eventually) butterflies.

These are the ones I'm finding are great but I'd be keen to get other suggestions from people who have noticed ones that they've found really good too. What I'm looking for is compact (area wise, height isn't an issue), long flowering season (or early/late source of food), not 'floppy'/need staking (e.g. Chrysanthemum max - what a nightmare).

Armeria Maritima 'Thrift' - small grass like clumps good for front of border, with chive like flowers.

Foxglove - Love these as they take up no space at the back and bees can't get enough of them!

Delphinium - I grew 'Pacific Giants' which are fairly big, but the flowers lasted ages and you could cut off dead limbs to create more space. Any smaller, more upright varieties?

Allium Sphaerocephalon - I think I bought these bulbs a couple of years ago from a 'Poundland' type shop, and forgot about them until they came up in June and at times had 2/3 bees on each one. Also the onion smell is rather nice (to me)!

Echinops Ritro 'Globe Thistle' - First year growth from tubers, so jury still out but I love the flowers and am hoping the bees will too next year.

Eringium 'Sea Holly' - Experiment as I like the flowers, but it's still tiny, anyone know if these are good?

Devils Bit Scabious - Grew from seed, large leaves now but no flowers yet. Supposed to be brilliant.

Sunflower (large multi headed one?) - Pretty for back of border. Think it's perennial.

Lavender - My plant is weak after being shaded by daft flowers for too long, but I've seen they can be good.

 

 

Ones I've tried but didn't get on with for various reasons unless anyone can recommend other varieties:

Solidago Goldenrod - Just attracts flies?

Chrysanthemum Max - Attracts flies, sprawls everywhere like a fat drunk in a pub.

Red Hot Poker - Huge, bees didn't seem too fussed

Hollyhock - Kept getting rust, flowered in 2nd year but bees seemed to struggle with the garish flowers, is there a single flowered one?

Aquilegia - Took up too much space, although bees did like them.

Cosmos - grew from seed, but a bit too bulky for the benefit they provide.

Sorry for the long first post, but if anyone can recommend other varieties they know of I'd be very interested, or just any comments in general. image What I'm basically after is the most bee friendly flowers in the least space possible. image

 

 

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Posts

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    First, yes, there are single-flowered hollyhocks, but you will have the same problem with rust - if you're in an area prone to it, it's very difficult to get rid of it in hollyhocks.

    One plant missing from your list is scabious - look at small garden varieties if you can't fit the taller wild plant. Bees are extremely fond of them.

    Another is antirrhinums, particularly the varieties where the bee has to climb into the "trap".

    As a general hint, double versions of flowers are often less attractive to bees because it's difficult to reach the heart for the insect.

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,452

    Hi FoxBat, welcome to the forumimage

    Interesting first post and one of my favourite subjects.

    Flowers I have found the bees like are

    Pulmonaria - Blue Ensign is earliest in my garden - early bees

    Orpine - not floppy like cultivated sedums - summer to late summer but favoured by many bees

    Verbena Bonariensis - stands up on its own if in the middle or back of border- long season - butterflies and bees

    Salvias like rose queen- poss too lumbering for you? - long flowering - bees

    Lythrum dropmore purple - a honey bee favourite. Flops after rain but rights itself after.

    Liatris - used but not smothered in bees

    Dahlias, the single type - don't require staking - bees

    Veronica - christa is my most compact that requires no staking - bees

    Snapdragons - bumble types only

    Sidalcea are a slightly tidier form of mallow - all bees

    aconitum napellus - bees love it, tall but one early stake will suffice

    Other good alliums I've found are globe master and purple sensation.

    image

  • FoxBatFoxBat Posts: 9
    Alina W wrote (see)

    First, yes, there are single-flowered hollyhocks, but you will have the same problem with rust - if you're in an area prone to it, it's very difficult to get rid of it in hollyhocks.

    One plant missing from your list is scabious - look at small garden varieties if you can't fit the taller wild plant. Bees are extremely fond of them.

    Another is antirrhinums, particularly the varieties where the bee has to climb into the "trap".

    As a general hint, double versions of flowers are often less attractive to bees because it's difficult to reach the heart for the insect.

    Thanks Alina,

    I'm based 'up noorth' so I'm guessing they won't like the extra damp (though it's been good this year)

    I've got some Devils's Bit Scabious, the leaves are low to the ground quite fleshy, each plant is about 6/8" diamater at the moment, I'm not sure what flowers if any will show this year.

    I'll look into Antirrhinums, many thanks. image

  • BamboogieBamboogie Posts: 239

    You have lavender on your list but how about other herbs?

    my fennel is in full bloom and full of insects, Rosemary never seems to stop flowering, thymes, origano, sage(salvias) all are excellent for insects.

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 11,538

    mint and thyme.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • LynLyn Posts: 9,494

    As well as the above, my best bee plants so far, Borage, Cerinthe, open dahlia, buddlia. All my garden is geared up for Bees, I have never seen so many.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Would you consider valerian or phacelia? They do seed freely tho so you have to keep an eye on them image



    You will attract more things if you have something for the young to eat, any chance you would consider a few nettles out of the way somewhere? image
  • SalinoSalino Posts: 1,609

    ..my best 3 at the moment would be..

    Lavender angustifolia.... big plants these but swarming in bumble bees.... full sun position...

    Verbena bonariensis..already mentioned... all sorts of butterflies on these... tall.. don't take up much room or need staking where I've got them...

    Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve'... lots of butterflies on these too... just watching them now incidentally...all fluttering around... lovely...

  • LynLyn Posts: 9,494

    I have just taken my Bowles Mauve cuttings ready for next year. They can get leggy after a while.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 
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