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The best garden plants for birds and pollinating insects

Mar 08, 2023
The best garden plants for birds and pollinating insects

As part of David Wilson Homes’ partnership with the RSPB, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, we’re working together on a journey to make our developments great places for both homeowners and wildlife to live in. For example, we’re supporting RSPB’s Nature on Your Doorstep project to encourage everyone with a garden, backyard or balcony to do their bit for birds and other wildlife.

UK gardens cover around 433,000 hectares of land. That’s nearly three times the size of Greater London and more than two and half times the area of RSPB reserves! This means there is huge potential for us all to help nature at home. One way to attract pollinating insects and other wildlife is to fill your outdoors space with plants. According to Nature on Your Doorstep guidance, there are seven bird and pollinator-friendly plants that are easy to grow and maintain, and nearly all are perennials – meaning they come back year after year.


1. Marjoram

Popular with both bees and butterflies, you might also find marjoram labelled as Oregano. It grows to around 30 cm tall and forms a clump over time. In spring, make sure to cut back all the stems that flowered the previous year.

2. Verbena bonariensis

Butterflies adore the lilac flowers that adorn the slender, wiry stems of verbena bonariensis. Leave the flower heads once finished as finches love to eat the seeds. Plus, any that fall to the ground may germinate, giving you new plants. In early spring, make sure to prune back to the base.

3. Hardy geraniums

With mounds of lovely leaves that grow to around 30-45 cm and hundreds of large flowers in blues, purples and pinks, hardy geraniums are perfect for attracting bumblebees. Look out for varieties including Geranium Rozanne, Geranium x magnificum and Geranium sanguineum. If you cut them back hard straight after flowering, your geraniums will happily grow back - and likely flower again.

4. Catmint

Best kept away from feline friends who like to eat it before it has time to flower, you may find catmint labelled ‘Nepeta’. Two common varieties are Walker’s Low and Six Hills Giant. It grows to around 45 cm tall and forms a low, loose mound of foliage. Let your catmint flower in summer and then cut back to the base around July as it starts to become straggly. It will then sprout again from the base.

5. Lavender

A favourite of bees, lavender grows to a wide clump of about 60 cm tall. They thrive in dry soil - just be cautious not to overwater them because they don’t like having what is called ‘their feet in water’. In early spring, simply trim the ends of all of the stems to keep your lavender healthy.

6. Helenium

Helenium have gorgeous daisy flowers that grow to around 60 cm high in flaming reds and sunny yellows. A common variety is Sahin’s Early Flowerer, but any will do and all varieties will have the bees buzzing. In terms of caring for your helenium, cut back last year’s flowering stems in early spring and make sure to water well in hot, dry weather.

7. Foxglove Digitalis

Foxglove Digitalis have tall flower spikes with pretty purple, pink and white flowers. Many are ‘biennials’ which means they germinate in year one, form a rosette of leaves and then flower and die in year two. Don’t be alarmed though - you can scatter the thousands of tiny seeds that are left.

Want to benefit from British wildlife in your garden? The best way to make an outdoor space wildlife-friendly is to grow plenty of colourful plants for pollinators. Find more handy tips about planting for wildlife at Nature on Your Doorstep.

You can also discover more about our new homes across the UK that are surrounded by up to 3.43 hectares of public open space. Moving in is easier than you think thanks to some of our great offers and schemes such as deposit unlock and help to buy Wales.