Persuading butterflies to breed in your garden
Butterfly and moth caterpillars are very fussy about what plants they will eat, so you need to provide the right host plants. It is very important that they have a pesticide-free environment, and it helps if the host plants are positioned in a sunny place.
Growing flowers in an existing bed is a simple way to create a butterfly border. You can encourage even more species by having a butterfly meadow. You will get most variety by having three different lengths of grass:
- Very short turf, with bird’s foot trefoil
- Shortish turf with thyme, cuckooflower, clovers and primrose
- A summer meadow, with a mix of long, medium and short grasses, and knapweeds, oxeye daisy, marigolds, scabious and clover. Find out how to create your own wildflower meadow
Stinging nettles will attract five colourful species of butterfly but you need to manage the area so they don't take over the garden. Stinging nettles need nutrient-rich soil and should be cut back in June or July to stimulate new shoots to grow, providing more food for caterpillars. Check there are no caterpillars on the stems you remove.