Buddleja, heather and Pulmonaria identified as among top plants supporting pollinators

The Wildlife Gardening Forum has identified the best plants for different groups of pollinators by asking volunteers around the country to score a wide range of garden plants in a pilot study.

By combining and averaging over 6,500 scores from 29 experienced participants, the Forum was able to create lists of top plants showing which plants are consistently excellent.

Taking pole position for butterflies was Buddleja davidii while greater knapweed top ranked for bumblebees. However, it was heather that came out in first place for the Honeybee, pulmonaria for solitary bees and fennel for hoverflies.

Adrian Thomas, organiser of the survey, said: "Gardeners can be confident that, if they grow the plants which came high on the lists, they have a great chance of being visited by the relevant groups of pollinators. However, the results also confirm that what is good for bumblebees, for example, is quite different from the preferred flowers for butterflies.

"The top lists are crammed with flowers that you would want to grow in your garden, showing that  a wildlife-friendly garden can look wonderful, too. Hopefully, the results will inspire more gardeners to seek out and try some of these winners.

There are some plants that are often recommended as being good for pollinators, such as primrose and pot marigold, that did not score highly in the survey.

Conversely, some more unusual plants not normally recommended for wildlife were identified as being excellent, and might enter the charts in future if more observations are made to confirm this.

To take part in the survey in 2017, email the Wildlife Gardening Forum at survey@wlgf.org.

Top 5 Lists, with average scores


  1. Butterfly Bush           Buddleja davidii                      2.71
  2. Yellow Butterfly Bush Buddleja x weyeriana              2.63
  3. Verbena                    Verbena bonariensis               2.58
  4. Michaelmas Daisy      Aster nova-angliae                  2.57
  5. Iceplant                    Sedum spectabile                    2.33


  1. Greater Knapweed   Centaurea scabiosa                   3.00
  2. Round-headed Leek Allium sphaerocephalon             2.89
  3. Scorpionweed           Phacelia tanacetifolia                2.86

4=  Viper's Bugloss      Echium vulgare                        2.83

4=  Field Scabious       Knautia arvensis                       2.83


  1. Heather                     Calluna vulgaris                     2.80
  2. Borage                      Borago officinalis                    2.75
  3. Round-headed Leek    Allium sphaerocephalon          2.71
  4. Lavandin                   Lavandula x intermedia           2.70
  5. Apple                        Malus domestica                     2.67

Solitary bees

  1. Lungwort                    Pulmonaria spp.                    2.73
  2. Lamb's-ear                  Stachys byzantina                 2.67
  3. Comfrey sp.                 Symphytum spp.                   2.67
  4. Dandelion                     Taraxacum officinale             2.63
  5. Hedge Veronica            Hebe spp.                             2.57


  1. Fennel                         Foeniculum vulgare                2.85
  2. Ivy                             Hedera helix                           2.77
  3. Goldenrod                   Solidago spp. & cvs                 2.71
  4. Common Hogweed      Heracleum sphondylium           2.67
  5. Tansy                        Tanacetum vulgare                   2.50       

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

Business Planning - Staff are your greatest asset

An effective strategy to retain staff is the best way for any business to avoid a potential recruitment crisis, Neville Stein advises.

GroSouth 2017 update

GroSouth 2017 update

First-time and established exhibitors are preparing to showcase products and services at this year's show in West Sussex, Gavin McEwan reports.

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Vine weevil

Pest & Disease Factsheet - Vine weevil

Avoid costly damage by this serious plant pest.

Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Opinion... Pepper breeders' wealth of knowledge

Peter Seabrook looks forward to garden centre pepper-tasting weekends.

Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Opinion... Shining a light on trading with Europe

Accurate figures are notoriously difficult to get at, but without doubt the UK imports a great deal of its ornamental plant requirement.

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Opinion... Unbeatable delight of quality plants

Viewing top-quality plants, both growing and on sale, always gives me pleasure.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production

Read Tim Edwards

Ornamentals ranking

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Top 30 Ornamentals Nurseries by Turnover 2017

Tough retail pricing policies and Brexit opportunities drive the top 30 growth strategies.

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles