How to attract or deter wildlife with these 10 plant picks
If you're looking for plants that attract or deter wildlife, then check out the top 10 best plants to help you.
Sunflower Helianthus annus
Besides looking glorious in a summer garden and being great fun to grow with children, this member of the Asteraceae family provides a double serving of food for garden creatures. During flowering the sunflower’s nectar is popular garden pollinators such as honey bees, bumblebees and hoverflies and once the autumn sets in head of seeds will bring birds like finches and doves.
These tall spears of splendid bloom will flower for a long summer from June until September providing plenty of room for bees and other pollinating insects to share a feast together. However, members of the digitalis family are toxic from root to flower if ingested by either pets and humans. Plant with caution.
There are over 150 species of these perennial, the most common of which is thymus vulgaris or common thyme. A hardy plant that can live well potted, making them a great feature in window and balcony gardens along with similar herb varieties. If planted in the ground the matt of branches gives a substantial shelter to minibeasts and its delicate flowers are a treat for bees.
Is another great plant for the patio, in as much as the flower bed is for lavender. A member of the mint family, it is worth having in any garden for the calming benefits of the scent alone but there are other perks to the lavendula. The long stalks of bloom are nectar rich for bees and butterflies and like the sunflower, when the season changes, its seeds provide a supplement to the garden birds’ diet. As a result of its attractiveness to garden beasties, lavender also makes a good companion plant directing the traffic away from roses and geraniums.
If you are looking for alternative methods to deter pests from your prize flowers or transplants, you might find sowing a ‘sacrificial crop’ helpful. Easy to grow brassica members like mustard plants or cabbages can be planted between rows or to supply slugs and snails with a food stuff that they love, saving the greens they might have heart-heartedly ruined. You can check beneath the leaves regularly and remove any lurkers you might find too.
Scaredy Cat Coleus Canina
Image source: Van Meuwen
The commonly known Scaredy Cat is a scented hybrid plant cultivated especially to deter cats and other small animals from gardens. An attractive plant, with blue blooms in the summer months, the coleus canina can be planted strategically near fox runs, badger holes, or at any entry point your unwanted visitors might have. The smell is not undetectable to the human nostril however, so try not to plant too near your own entry point.
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Used widely in Chinese medicine, honeysuckle is native to the northern hemisphere. It can be pruned back into a bush or trained to climb over walls and up trellis providing plenty of nectar for bees, butterflies and moths, and is a particular favourite of that curious beastie, the humming bird hawk moth. Once the flowers give over to berries, your garden will soon be a feeding spot to a host to other winged favourites like thrushes and warblers.
Ivy Hedera helix
Ivy is a good source of nutrition for insects and birds that are still flying about in the winter garden. The evergreen climber can manage in either shade or a sunny spot and in later months feeds butterflies, bees, wasps and hoverflies with it’s nectar, while birds eat the late-fruiting berries in winter when most have gone.
Bramble Rubus fruticosa (Blackberry)
Image source: Eggert Baumschule
This thorny fruit-bearing plant is common to woodland and scrub areas that produce clustered berry heads from early summer, ripening to a dark purple colour towards the autumn. Blackberrying has historically been a common pastime in native countries like the UK and Ireland, but the fruits are also sustenance to a variety of small animals including birds, badgers, foxes and deer (if you’re rural enough). Not to mention the swathes of insects the bramble bushes attract - so much so that you will often find spiders have set up shop in the interior branches. A great food source for beasts alike.
Logs Pileus Undisturbis
Image source: House Farmer
A very simple way of helping out your garden tenants throughout the year is to provide some shelter from both predators and the elements. Leaving a spot at the end of your garden uncultivated, with a few stacked logs makes an excellent hideout for a number of insects, effectively boosting the ecosystem of the garden.