Pots for Pollinators: Designs for containers to attract butterflies and bees.

The butterflies are coming for breakfast

Words & Pictures: Jan Miller-Klein

Even if you don’t have a garden you can still attract butterflies to your door by having a container or window box planted with flowers attractive to them.

Choose plants that don’t mind drying out occasionally – and luckily many of these are just the kind that butterflies love. Many of the medditterranean herbs are good for butterflies, and if kept in a pot outside the back door you will have them handy for cooking too (the herbs, not the butterflies!)

Try collections of marjorams (you can get them with golden or variegated leaves), lavender, sage and pop in a bird’s foot trefoil to trail over the edge – not edible for us, but it is for the blue butterflies. Or you can use one spectacular plant like Echinacea purpurea in the centre of a tub, surrounded by French marigolds. Use the following list to play around with combinations that please you, the season and your situation each year. Many of these are perennial plants so you can often keep the containers through the winter by bringing them into an unheated greenhouse or porch (mediterrannean plants don’t mind our cold winters, but they can’t stand the wet.)

Freshen them up in spring by topping up with some new compost and planting in some annuals like marigolds or candytuft around the edge. Then feed fortnighly with a high potash liquid feed made from comfrey leaves rotting in your water butt, or a commercial one like tomato food.

Extracted from ‘Gardening for Butterflies, Bees and other Beneficial Insects’ by Jan Miller-Klein, published Saith Ffynnon Books ISBN 9780955528804