Sustainability

Protecting Insects with Wildflowers – Your Evergreen Guide

Want to know more about protecting insects with wildflowers and why it's so important?

We love that you want to learn about these natural superheroes.

As luxury floristry professionals at Blooming Haus, we're passionate about the power of flowers and their vital contribution to the planet.

And we're dedicated to sustainability and protecting the world around us.

So, we're partnering with Buglife to Get London Buzzing this Autumn by rewilding city areas to support bees and other insects.

Through this partnership and our eco-friendly working practices, we've learned how important protecting insects is, and we're excited to share our knowledge.

Be prepared to have your eyes opened to these amazing creatures.

How to Help the Insects in Your Garden

1. Why Are Insects Important in the UK?

Insects are magical in their own right.

The world would be very different without bees and butterflies in our outside spaces.

But that's just part of the story...

Insects are also vital to the ecosystem of the planet.

They're a vital part of the diet of birds, fish, frogs, hedgehogs, and bats.

So, other wildlife is also at risk if we lose insects like wasps, beetles, and ants.
Many insects are also pollinators.

They carry pollen from flower to flower, taking it from the male part of the flower, called the anther, to the female part, called the stigma.

This process is essential to plants, allowing them to fertilise and produce seeds.

Some plants self-pollinate, and others rely on wind and rain to carry pollen.

But many plants rely on insect pollination.

This includes plants that provide food that we eat, such as strawberries, apples, raspberries, and peas.

If you hear the term "pollinator" used, it's usually associated with bees or butterflies.

But there are actually over 1,500 insect pollinators in the UK.

Check out this list from Countryfile that helps you identify them.
You can see how much power insects hold in nature and their importance.

Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place for these mini-heroes.

But we can all help them.

We'll show you why and how you can protect insects.

And we'll reveal how wildflowers have a role to play.

2. Why Should We Help Insects?

Our friends at Buglife, and the folks at Kent Wildlife Trust, carried out the Bugs Matter Citizen Science Survey.

They asked people to count the number of insects splattered against their vehicle number plates.

They then compared the results with those of a similar survey in 2004.

The comparison indicated a 58.5% reduction in flying insects in the UK between 2004 and 2021

You can look at the full survey report for more facts and figures.

Of course, this measures a small section of the overall insect population.

But it's a good indicator of the wider situation where research suggests that around 40% of the world's insect population could become extinct within a few decades.

If this happens, plants relying on insects for pollination will become less productive or stop producing altogether.

Animals that eat insects will find it difficult to survive.

And...

There will be fewer insect larvae around to feed on dead plants and animals and keep the environment clean.

There are many reasons for the decline in insect numbers.

Causes include the use of pesticides and fertilisers and atmospheric pollution.
This situation may sound very sad and downbeat.

But there's good news 😁.

We can protect insects and help them to thrive.

And wildflowers have a critical role to play.

We're working with the invertebrate protection organisation Buglife to bring more of these flowers to London.

This collaboration is part of the B-Lines initiatives.

The initiative aims to create insect pathways across rural and urban areas.

It does this by developing wildflower-rich habitats that act as stepping stones for insects that link current wildlife areas.

This video shows you how creative and vital the B-Lines initiative is.
We're hugely excited by our work with Buglife.

It's part of our sustainable ethos at Blooming Haus.

We also work with Ecologi, The National Forest, and the Woodland Trust.

Whenever someone buys one of our unique floral creations, we fund a tree to be planted in their name.

Doing this tackles climate change and protects the habitats of wildlife, including insects.

So you can buy a beautiful gift or flowers for your home or business and simultaneously protect the environment and insects.

3. How Do Wildflowers Help Insects?

Want to know more about how wildflowers protect insects?

The main benefit that insects get from wildflowers is food.

Pollinators visit flowers to feed on nectar and pollen.

Nectar is a sugary liquid that provides energy, and pollen provides protein and nutrients.

In summer, an acre of wildflower meadow containing around three million flowers can produce around one kg of nectar sugar to support around 96,000 honey bees daily.

As we mentioned earlier, pollinators also carry pollen between plants, helping them to become fertile.

So, it's a mutually beneficial relationship.

Wildflowers also provide food for predatory insects like ladybirds and hoverflies in the form of pests such as aphids.

Wildflowers have other benefits too...

Their root systems stabilise the soil and reduce the risk of flooding.

Some flowers, like foxgloves, have recognised medicinal properties.

Grassland soils sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases.
So, wildflowers are good for our insect friends.

And they protect our planet.

Plus, they look AMAZING.

The bad news is that we've lost 97% of our wildlife meadows in the UK since the 1930s.

So, planting more wildflowers is vital.

And choosing flowers that attract bees and butterflies is always a good idea.

4. What Wildflowers Attract Bees and Butterflies?

You may have heard on the news that honeybees are thriving in the UK.

While this is true, we still need to protect bees and other insects.

This protection is so important because of the threat to certain species of bees.

We've lost 13 species, and another 35 are at risk.

Many bees are in serious decline, especially wild solitary bees, and bumblebees.

Butterflies are experiencing similar issues.

Species like the swallowtail and grizzled skipper are vulnerable, while others, like the high brown fritillary, are endangered.

See this list of butterflies to find out which other species are in trouble.

If we want to stop the decline of bees, butterflies, and other insects, it makes sense to plant wildflowers that attract and benefit them.

Keep scrolling to find out which flowers to choose for your garden.

Bluebell

These perennial bulbs produce beautiful bell-shaped flowers and a sweet aroma.

So, they're a welcome addition to any garden.

And bees love them.

A bonus is that they're good for butterflies too.
Bluebells grow well along a hedge or under trees.

They bloom from May to September.

Foxglove

Foxgloves are tall, hardy perennials.

They love the sun but will tolerate a shady area.

These plants also self-seed freely, so they replenish.
This gorgeous plant is especially popular with long-tonged bumblebees that find it easy to retrieve nectar from the blooms.

Foxgloves bloom from June to September.

Comfrey

Comfrey is a hardy perennial that grows well in a herbaceous border.

It will grow in almost any garden but prefers damp spaces.
Comfrey blooms from May to August.

This long-flowering period makes it a favourite of bumblebees.

Clover

In summer, go anywhere where you find white clover or purple clover, and you'll hear the buzz of bees.

Bumblebees love clover, and they can't get enough of it.
In particular, red clover blooms are popular with rare and common bumblebee species.

These plants are ideal for wild areas of your garden.

Red clover blooms from May to September, and white clover blooms from April to October.

Greater knapweed

Greater knapweed is a beautiful flower that looks like a thistle.

It's a magnet for insects, including bees and butterflies.
This species of plant is common in wildflower meadows.

It also grows well in a herbaceous border.

Greater knapweed blooms from June to September.

Wood anemone

Wood anemone is an ancient woodland plant that blooms in early spring.

It has pretty white star-shaped flowers with a green centre and yellow stamens.
The blooms of this great-looking plant decorate a garden from February to May.

And they tolerate shade and sunlight, so they're an easy addition to your outside space.

Buddleia

You'll often hear a buddleia referred to as a butterfly bush.

There's a good reason for this.

Its rich nectar supply attracts an array of native British butterfly species.

So, if you want to attract butterflies to your garden, buddleia is an excellent choice.
Buddleia like sunny or partially shaded areas of a garden.

Most bushes bloom from July to October.

English lavender

The scent of lavender is a familiar feature of British gardens during summer.

And its blooms attract various British butterflies as they're an excellent food source for these beautiful insects.

Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained soil.

It blooms from June to mid-August.

Common lilac

You can plant common lilac in your garden In spring or autumn.

Choose an area in full sun and where the soil drains well.
Lilac blooms in May and June.

At this time of year, it's a rich source of nectar for butterflies.

Deadhead lilac when each flower dies to get the optimum amount of blooms.

Stinging nettles

You may not think of nettles as a good addition to a garden.

But if you want to protect butterflies, they're a great choice.

Nettles are a popular food source for the caterpillars of butterfly species, including red admiral, small tortoiseshell, painted lady, and comma.

So, having them in your garden supports your local butterfly population.
If you're growing nettles for the benefit of butterflies, don't forget to cut them back regularly, so they grow as well as they can.

When planting wildflowers for bees and butterflies, don't forget other insects that can benefit from the flowers in your outside space.

5. Other UK Insects That Wildflowers Help

Wildflowers like yarrow benefit different insects.

So, consider which insects you can protect with your plant choices when planning your wildflower garden.

Ladybirds

These colourful bugs aren't just lovely to look at; they're useful too.

There are more than 40 species of these beetles in the UK, and many prey on aphids and other pests.

These predatory ladybirds help keep garden pests under control naturally.

Take some time to read our journal entry for more advice about this.

"Did You Know You Can Use Plants as Natural Pest Control in Your Garden? Here’s how."

One of the ladybird species that most need our help is the seven-spot.

It's a native species of ladybird facing competition for food from the invasive harlequin ladybird, which arrived in the UK in 2004.

Growing plants with pollen-rich blooms, like yarrow, fennel, and dill, provides much-needed food for the seven-spot.

Hoverflies

Britain has more than 6,000 species of fly, of which more than 280 are hoverflies.

Many hoverflies look like bees or wasps due to their striped markings.

But they don't bite or sting.

The larvae of hoverflies are predators, and they recycle organic matter in gardens.

The adults are pollinators.

So, these insects are a valuable addition to your wildflower garden.
Hoverflies love knapweed, fennel, and ivy.

Or you can let your lawn grow a little and use the dandelions and buttercups that flourish to attract these flying insects.

Parasitic wasp

Parasitic wasps are great at controlling garden pests.

How they do it isn't pleasant, but it's pretty amazing.

The female of the species has a long point at the end of her abdomen that she uses to pierce insects and lay her eggs inside them.

When the eggs hatch, they feed on the body of the host insect before cutting a hole to escape.

This process may not be great to think about, but it's good for controlling pests like tomato hornworms, cabbage loopers, and cabbage worms.

So, attracting parasitic wasps helps you garden organically and protect the environment.
Image: Gardening Know How
Some parasitic wasps are attracted to a good supply of nectar and pollen from plants such as dill and fennel.

Others feed on pests such as aphids.

So, if you have a variety of wildflowers in your garden, you should be able to attract parasitic wasps.

Lacewing


Adult lacewings will eat a few pests in your garden.

However, lacewing larvae are most effective at pest control.

These larvae eat various pests, including greenfly, blackfly, and whitefly.

One larva can eat 200 aphids in a week.
To attract these pest control experts to your garden, certain plants work best.

These plants include dill, sweet alyssum, yarrow, and verbena.

6. How to Identify Wildflowers

Wildflowers have decorated the UK landscape for centuries.

They're stunning and a valuable natural resource.

There are more than 1,800 species of beautiful wildflowers in the UK.

You should never harvest any plants from the wild.

But you can admire them, and you can grow your own wildflowers.

If you're going to look at or grow wildflowers, it helps if you can identify them.
You'll probably know some species, like yarrow, buttercups, and bluebells.

But you may not be familiar with the less well-known ones.

This useful guide from Countryfile will help you learn about wildflowers.

It also tells you which flowers are in season at different times of year.
We also love the free PlantNet plant identification app on Google Play and Apple Store.

It's super useful if you're thinking of creating a wildflower garden.

If you love the idea of protecting insects with wildflowers but haven't got the space or time to grow wildflowers yourself, check out organisations like Buglife.

They give you an opportunity to get involved.

7. What Else Can You Do To Protect Insects?

Growing and supporting wildflowers isn't the only thing you can do to protect insects.

You can take other steps to help bees, butterflies, and other mini marvels.

Eliminate pesticide use

Using pesticides kills useful insects in your garden.

Their use also pollutes soil and can contaminate water supplies.

Plus, pesticides can also be damaging to human health.
So, it makes sense to reduce your use of pesticides.

Ideally, you should stop using them altogether and garden organically.

Limit exterior lighting


Most nocturnal insects are attracted to artificial lights.

So, if you use lights in your garden, insects will stay awake, which will often lead to exhaustion and death.

This is why nocturnal moths in Europe are declining more quickly than butterflies active during the day.
Artificial lighting is also bad for other wildlife, such as bats and birds.

The Natural History Museum provides some interesting information about this.

Reduce run-off from buildings and vehicles

You may not realise it, but when you wash the exterior of your home or vehicle, the chemicals and debris can kill insects.

So reducing cosmetic cleaning practices makes sense.
If you need to clean your property, use biodegradable soaps.

Doing this lets you keep your car and home clean without killing insects and damaging the environment.

Be an Insect Advocate

Many people aren't aware of the benefits of insects.

In fact, they see creatures like flies and beetles as scary things to be avoided and maybe even killed.

You can make a change by becoming an insect advocate.
Tell people how amazing insects are and how they help us survive.

Start today by sharing this post on social media.

Build a bug hotel

Insects need a safe space to shelter and reproduce.

This space keeps them safe from predators and protects them.

You can help by building a bug hotel in your garden.
Doing this isn't difficult and can be a fun family project.

Check out this advice from the Woodland Trust for inspiration.

Have questions about protecting insects with wildflowers?

Have something you want to ask about using wildflowers to protect insects?

Add your questions to the comments, and we'll do our best to help.

We'd also recommend looking at information from organisations like Friends of the Earth and Buglife.

8. Other Journal Entries You May Like

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