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Plants to attract wild life in a shady concrete courtyard

Hi, I want to attract as many bees/butterflies and moths as possible to my courtyard, unfortunately it doesn't get a lot of sun. My perennial geraniums, which I love and do well flower for ages and attract hoverflies and some bees.  I have herbs such as lavender, mint, etc., but they don't produce masses of flowers, because of the shady conditions. The tobacco plants do okay, not fantastic, but they do attract hoverflies. I've lived here for 16 years and have only ever seen a handful of butterflies over the years. Are there any butterfly bushes that do well or okay in such conditions? If anyone can suggest any plants that will tolerate the conditions that I have I would be very grateful.  


  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Hi Tracey image

    Its not just flowers to attract butterflies, they need shelter and somewhere to lay eggs on food the young can eat, a little patch of nettles can be very useful.

    Im not sure how shady your garden is, if herbs are growing then it mustnt be too bad image

    Foxgloves are a stalwort for shady spots, lots of spring flowering plants like blubells will tolerate shade, have a look on the crocus website, they have a really good search facility, you will be supprised with whats availabe image
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,046

    What other plants or gardens are nearby Tracey? Would be worth taking a look at some other people's plots if you can. I had the same problem when I lived in a rented house for a year and it was totally sterile. There wasn't a lot of planting in nearby gardens either so it was even hard to get birds coming in for food. I had a Ligularia which is great for attracting bees and hoverflies and if you can grow lavender then you should find it does well. If you can squeeze one in - you can't beat a buddleia. There are now ones for patio pots too so they're a bit smaller. Alliums  are great too and don't take up much room. They'd go well in amongst the lavender - they like the same conditions. Heucheras , Tiarellas and Heucherellas are all great for bees and hoverflies. 

    Should have said - those will all take some shade anyway, especially the Heuchera family, and the buddleias will grow virtually anywhere anyway. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 13,027

    I think Fg. has a good idea with Buddleia. It is for a good reason they are known as the butterfly bush, and there are now a number of dwarf cultivars.

    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.
  • How about Hellebores for the late Winter/Spring display. Lady's Mantle i.e Alchemilla mollis does well in part shade ( but spreads well by seed). Some fushcias will do well in part shade too.

  • Thank you for all your responsesimage Bekkie I know just where to get some nettles, so I can pot some up next year. I adore foxgloves and bluebells, my mum has bluebells in her garden, so that's handy. I've had a look at crocuses in one of my gardening magazines, which was very informative. Fairygirl I love your idea of a Budleia, I didn't know I could get a Budleia for a pot, so this is brilliant. I've got a Heuchera and it does okay. Thank you punkdoc I'll check out the dwarf cultivars. Man of Kent, I don't know why I didn't think of Hellebores, I love these plants. I've got Alchemilla mollis, the thing I love about this plant is how the rain forms perfect little droplets on the leaves, it's such a pretty sight to see.

    I forgot to say that my courtyard is all concrete, so everything has to go into pots.

    Guess who has just been given the green light for an allotment? I just found out today and to say I'm excited would be a massive understatement. To be able to garden straight into the ground instead of pots will be such a pleasure.

    Thanks again for all your lovely advice. 

  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,545

    Congratulations on your allotment image

    Will love to see pics of your court yard when you fill your pots with all the suggestions above image

  • Forester2Forester2 Posts: 1,477

    Great news about the allotment Tracey - it will be hard work but you will have such fun planning your veg and you will be able to grow flowers there too.image

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,046

    Forgot to add Sedums to the list Tracey. They prefer a sunny site but will cope well in  a pot and you can keep them in the sunniest part, or put some in troughs on a wall or fence. I did that with strawberries in a previous garden and you can grow all sorts of bee/butterfly attracting plants that way. The low growing 'Stonecrop'  kind are ideal for that sort of treatment.  Ajuga (bugle) is another good little plant for a shadier spot. Spring bulbs all attract bees - in fact they're a real benefit for them at that time of year - and are great in pots. Most of the usual ones will cope with quite a bit of shade too. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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