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