The best plants for bees and pollinators

The best plants for bees and pollinators

Set up a ‘nectar café’ by planting flowers for pollinating insects like bees and butterflies
Pollinators and flowers illustration

Many of our prettiest insects feed on nectar, so need flowering plants for their survival. Butterflies, moths, bees and hoverflies all need sources of nectar and pollen to thrive. As they travel from flower to flower, they also pollinate them, enabling them to set seed or bear fruit. So, setting up a nectar café benefits both your plants and you, allowing you to enjoy the flitting and fluttering of beautiful butterflies.

Setting up a nectar café not only benefits your garden, but allows you to enjoy the fluttering of beautiful butterflies too


    Forget me not illustration

    Setting up your nectar café:

    • Choose a sheltered sunny spot
    • Place each plant in groups or drifts so that the colour and scent are easy to detect
    • Prolong the flowering season – select plants so that you have a show of flowers from early spring to late autumn
    • choose flowers with a simple (often flat) structure, like old cottage varieties, as they are the easiest for insects to feed from
    • Remember to provide a night-time feast for moths. Plant some night-scented flowers.
    • Add herbs to the mix as they are highly attractive to insects, or design a dedicated herb garden

    Nectar plant suggestions:

    Early season

    Mid season

    Late season

    Aubretia spp

    Heather - Erica cinerea

    Coneflower - Echinacea spp.

    English bluebell - Hyacinthoides non-scripta

    Lady’s bedstraw - Galium verum

    French marigold - Tagetes patula

    Currant - Ribes spp.

    Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia

    Golden rod - Solidago spp.

    Grape hyacinth - Muscari armeniacum

    Common mallow - Malva sylvestri

    Honeysuckle - Lonicera periclymenum

    Lungwort - Pulmonaria officinalis

    Purple toadflax - Linaria purpurea

    Ice plant - Sedum spectabile

    Primrose - Primula vulgaris

    Rock cress - Arabis spp.

    Ivy - Hedera helix

    Sweet violet - Viola odorata

    Sea holly - Eryngium maritimum

    Meadow saffron - Colchicum autumnale

    Winter aconite - Eranthis hyemalis

    Verbena - Verbena bonariensis

    Michaelmas daisy - Aster pyrenaeus 

    Wood anemone - Anemone nemorosa

    Wallflower - Erysimum cheiri

    Common sunflower - Helianthus annuus

    Alyssum - Alyssum


    Red valerian - Centranthus ruber