Wildflowers for attracting butterflies
wildflower plug plant collection
This collection of wildflower plugs provides nectar and larval food for butterflies and is made up of 13 varieties that will arrive in a tray of 104 plants. This will cover an area of approximately 21m², planting 5 plants per 1m².
The plugs are young plants, not seedlings, and cost just over 64 pence each. Each individual plug's root volume is approximately 55cc, with a diameter of 36mm and a depth of 60mm. The top growth will depend on the variety and the time of year.
Below is what you can expect in your collection, depending on availability.
- Kidney vetch, Anthyllis vulneraria - long stems of wholly yellow flowers which provide food for the Blue butterfly and Six Belted Clearwing moth
- Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare - feathery leaves are strongly pungent and yellow flowers which are rich in nectar
- Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis - 60-100cm tall with yellow flowers which are a food source for the Elephant Hawk moth
- Greater mullien, Verbascum thapsus - lovely yellow flowers in summer and is food plant for Mullein moth
- Bird's foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus - spreading perennial with yellow pea-like flowers, a good food plant for Common Blue, Clouded Yellow Wood White, Green Hairstreak and Dingy Skipper butterflies plus Six Spot Burnet, Chalk Carpet and Straw Belle moths
- Yarrow, Achillea millefolium - 15-40cm tall with white, sometimes pink, flowers, a good food plant for Lime Speck Pug, Wormwood Pug Straw Belle and Tiger moths
- Lesser knapweed, Centaurea nigra - 40-60cm tall perennial with mauve thistle-like flowers, excellent for nectar for migrant butterflies
- Red valerian, Centranthus ruber - 45cm tall with fragrant red flowers in summer and much loved by butterfies
- Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum - 45-200cm stately perennial with flowers rich in nectar and attractive by all bee species
- Wild carrot, Daucus carota - 30-100cm tall biennial with white flowers which are nectar rich and attractive to hoverflies
- Vipers bugloss, Echium vulgare - 30-100cm tall with blue flowers in June, a favourite nectar source for the Painted Lady butterfly
- Ladys bedstraw, Galium verum - low growing, spreading perennial and yellow flowers food for Humming Hawk and Elephant Hawk moths
- Autumn hawkbit, Leontodon autumnalis - 15-30cm tall with bright yellow dandelion-like flowers, a good late nectar plant
- Cowslip, Primula veris - 10-15cm bunches of yellow bells in May and June which are food source for the Fritillary butterfly and Clay and Rustic moths
- Nottingham catchfly, Silene nutans - perennial with nodding white-greenish flowers providing food for the Campion moth
- Enchanters nightshade, Circaea lutetiana - 30-45cm tall with white flowers that are an excellent food source for the Phoenix moth
- Wood avens, Geum urbanum - 30cm tall with yellow flowers in May, good food plant of the Riband Wave moth
- Hedge woundwort, Stachys sylvatica - 30-60cm tall magenta- purple flowers throughout the summer providing nectar for bees
- Ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi - bright pink flowers provide food for Campion and Lychnis moths
- Garden care: Your plug plants should be planted out as soon as they arrive.
- Planting Plugs into Bare Soil: Wildflowers thrive in soils which have a low nutrient content, so it is best to avoid using fertilisers for at least one year before you plant. The area should also be clear of perennial weeds. As a general rule, you should allow 5 plugs to a square metre. Try to plant them randomly, putting 3 of the same species together if you can. The shorter or smaller species e.g. cowslip or centaury look best in clumps of 5, the taller ones like knapweeds or ox-eye daisies look best in groups of 2 or 3 to a square metre. If you want more immediate colour, you can put your plugs in, and then scatter the Cornfield Seed Collection over the whole area. These will give you a good show in the first year, but die out as the perennials wildflowers take hold - just click on the following link to go straight to them.
Cornfield Seed Collection
- Planting Plugs into Grass: First cut the grass as low as you can get it. If there is a ‘thatch’ then scarify it (you need to get the plugs into contact with the soil). There should be no reason to kill the grass first before planting, although very modern, tough lawn mixes may out-compete the wildflowers. In general, if your grass is wild or pre-1970 it will be O.K. to plant straight into it. If you are worried that it is very vigorous, try mowing, removing the cuttings, scarifying, and then rake yellow rattle seed (Rhinanthus minor) into the grass. This is semi-parasitic on grass, and once established it will reduce the lawns vigour by up to 50%. All ancient meadows have this plant.
- When to Plant:The best time to plant is autumn to late spring when the ground is cool and damp, however it is possible to plant at any time of the year as long as the ground isn’t frozen. The main losses are due to drying out before, during or just after planting. Therefore it is essential that the plugs are kept moist at all times if planting during warmer weather. If a dry spell sets in within 6 weeks of planting you must ensure the plants are watered - and watered well.
- How to Help your Wildflowers Develop: Once planted you must keep your plugs watered for at least 6 weeks. If planting into established grass, mow as normal for lawns, but with the blades at the highest setting for the first year. This will help keep the grass under control, whilst letting your wildflowers build up good root systems and basal leaves. Once your plants are obviously established you can stop mowing and let them flower. This should be around the end of July or August of the year after planting i.e. if planted in April, let them flower in July or August of the same year. In the autumn of the first year that they have flowered, mow the whole area, leaving the clippings where they lie for a few days before raking them off. This will allow the seeds to drop from the seedheads, providing more plants in the following year. If you have a mulching mower you can leave the cuttings provided they are green and not dry or woody. Woody clippings will not decompose quickly at this stage and may rot the young plants beneath them.
- On-going Management: In subsequent years you can mow your meadow once or twice a year. The timing of the spring or summer cut is not important - or it can be skipped altogether. Until mid-August, if you mow your meadow it will recover and flower again in around 8 weeks. Therefore, if you have a big event planned, count backwards 8 weeks and mow - it should then look at its best just when you want it to. Always do a cut and clear up in autumn or early winter, and remove all the cuttings (as above) but be aware that many insects and small mammals spend the cold winter months tucked up in the bases of tussocks of dry grass, so try to leave a bit of rough stuff until the spring.