Plants for Wildlife


Growing a variety of trees, shrubs and climbers will give varied habitats, food and shelter at different times of year for wildlife in your garden. Many native trees and shrubs make a good choice, but ornamental garden varieties can be integral.

Here's our top 20 choices to attract wildlife to your garden, from the trees, shrubs and climbers that we grow. They have been selected as easy to grow and to provide a variety of support for wildlife year-round.

Berberis darwinii
Evergreen shrub with shiny dark green leaves and bright orange flowers in spring, followed by black berries in autumn. It's pollen-rich flowers attract bees and other pollinators. Dense evergreen foliage provides valuable cover for birds and planted as an informal hedge or against a fence, it can provide a good nesting site. Berries are attractive to birds.

Buddleja davidii
Choose a compact variety such as Buddleja davidii 'Prince Charming' with scented cerise-pink flowers or, if you have more space, Buddleja davidii 'Santana' with variegated leaves and red-purple flowers. All cultivars provide nectar-rich flowers, in summer through to autumn, that are also a good resting place and a must for attracting butterflies and bees.

Bupleurum fruticosum
Wonderful evergreen shrub with blue green leaves and umbels of yellow flowers from July to September, followed by seed-heads. Known for attracting bees, hoverflies and other beneficial insects. Profusion of small seed are also great for birds.

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion'
A cultivar that fruits well on its own, with large clusters of purple berries in autumn. Small lilac flowers in summer and attractive foliage in both spring and autumn. Flowers attract bees and butterflies. Known for attracting birds but bitter fruits tend to be left until others are depleted.

Choose a single flowered or semi-double variety such as Chaenomeles x superba 'Lemon and Lime'. Masses of cup-shaped flowers in early spring, followed by fruit in autumn. Can be pruned to form a thicket-like wall shrub, great for supporting birds and other wildlife . Nectar-rich flowers are known to attract bees and fruit is eaten by both birds and mammals.

Cornus sericea 'Flavirmea'
Great for adding winter colour to your garden with its green stems. Clusters of cream-white flowers in spring are followed by bunches of black berries in August and September. Leaves are eaten by caterpillars of some moths, while flowers are visited by many insects. Berries attract birds, such as robins and thrushes, as well as being eaten by small mammals. For red stems plant Cornus alba BATON ROUGE or for variegated foliage try Cornus alba IVORY HALO 'Bailhalo'.

Euonymus europaeus 'Red Cascade'
Excellent red-purple autumn colours and unusual bright pink fruits that open to reveal orange-red seeds. Small yellow-green flowers in summer are a rich source of pollen for insects. Leaves are eaten by caterpillars of various moths as well as the holy blue butterfly. Leaves also attract aphids and their predators including hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings, sparrows and other birds.

Hedera algeriensis 'Gloire de Marengo'
Evergreen climber with variegated grey-green and cream-white foliage that provides year-round shelter for wrens, sparrow and blackbirds, also a host of other hibernating creatures including butterflies. Valuable for many insect species filling up on nectar before hibernation. Berries ripen after many others have been eaten, particularly attractive to blackcaps, woodpigeons, robins, thrushes and small mammals.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'
Compact English lavender, evergreen with highly scented spikes of violet-blue flowers in summer. Perfect for a sunny spot or for pots. Nectar-rich flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Nearly all cultivars and hybrids are good choices but choose one with blue flowers for the greatest attraction to bees.

Lonicera pericylmenum 'Graham Thomas'
Lovely, highly scented climber with yellow flowers over a prolonged period in summer, followed by berries in autumn. Nectar is enjoyed by many butterflies and moths. Leaves attract aphids and their predators including hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and birds. Bullfinches, warblers and thrushes are particularly attracted by the berries, also eaten by small mammals.

Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'
One of the best winter flowering shrubby honeysuckles, rounded, bushy and easy to grow. Highly fragrant, cream-white, nectar-rich flowers that are extremely attractive to insects and provide vital nectar to bumblebees which may have been disturbed from hibernation. Lonicera fragrantissima is a very similar alternative.

Malus 'Evereste'
Small deciduous tree with masses of white flowers from pink buds in spring, followed by red-yellow crab apples in autumn. Leaves provide food for caterpillars of many moths. Flowers are an important source of early pollen for insects, particularly bees. Fruit is attractive to birds, especially blackbirds and thrushes, and also eaten by mammals such as mice voles, foxes and badgers.

Prunus 'Kursar'
Small deciduous tree with upright form, abundant deep pink flowers in spring, followed by fruit in autumn. An early flowering cultivar that provides an early source of nectar and pollen for bees. Ornamental cherries are eaten by birds, including blackbirds and thrushes, as well as mammals such as mice and badgers. Foliage is eaten by caterpillars of a variety of moths.

Sambucus nigra f. porphylla 'Eva'
Attractive, purple, lacey foliage with flat heads of light pink flowers borne abundantly in summer, followed by black berries. Leaves are eaten by many moth caterpillars. Flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects. Berries are eaten by birds, and both berries and flowers are eaten by small mammals such as bank voles and dormice.

Sarcococca confusa
Bushy evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves and masses of sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers in winter followed by black berries. Good choice for shade and thrives under trees. Attractive to pollinators, providing nectar at a time of year when limited plants do.

Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green'
Small, mound-forming evergreen shrub with very large lime-green flower clusters in winter. Will grow in shade. Attractive to pollinators, providing nectar at a time of year when limited plants do.

Sorbus ulleungensis 'Olympic Flame'

Small deciduous tree with upright habit, large umbels of creamy-white flowers in spring and orange-red berries in autumn. Very attractive foliage with vivid autumn colours. Flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. Berries are a source of food for birds, especially blackbirds, thrushes, redstart, redwing, fieldfare and waxwing.

Viburnum opulus 'Compactum'
A compact garden variety of Guelder Rose with lacy white flowers, hanging bunches of bright red berries and excellent autumn colour. Flowers are especially attractive to hoverflies and it is favoured by birds for its berries, particularly bullfinches and thrushes. If you have more space plant the native Viburnum opulus.

Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price'
Bushy evergreen with clusters of white, pink-budded, flowers from late autumn to early spring followed by small blue-black berries. Can be grown as an informal hedge and will tolerate a shady position. Provides good cover for birds, as well as berries, and nectar for insects at a time of year when little else is flowering.