Tips for butterfly-friendly hanging baskets:
Always use peat-free compost. Don’t use harmful pesticides. Mix and match plants to provide flowering plants for adult butterflies and moths, as well as food plants for caterpillars. Choose plants that flower for a long time, to provide nectar for as many butterflies and moths as possible.
Even though Fuchsias originate from Central and South America, in Britain they are eaten by caterpillars of the striking Elephant Hawk-moth. Fuchsias are from the same family as willowherbs (the main foodplant for the Elephant Hawk-moths in the UK), and so probably taste quite similar.
There are many different types of fuchsia available: find a trailing variety suitable for hanging baskets. Most fuchsias like sun or partial shade. They can be hardy or tender, evergreen or deciduous.
The brightly-coloured flowers of Nasturtiums provide nectar for adult butterflies and moths, and the leaves are munched on by caterpillars of the Green-veined White, Large White and Small White butterflies.
Nasturtiums tend to enjoy full sun and well-drained soil. They bloom from May to the autumn. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, adding a peppery flavour to salads and other dishes.
Ivy is a fantastic plant for butterflies and moths. The leaves and buds are eaten by caterpillars, the flowers provide essential nectar in the autumn, (when other flowers have started to fade) and many butterflies and moths take shelter amongst the dense foliage. Ivy grown in a hanging basket may not grow big enough to produce flowers, but will still feed a host of caterpillars including those of the Magpie and Buff Ermine moths and the Holly Blue butterfly (rare in Ireland and Scotland).
Ivy is a hardy evergreen and is versatile, growing in sun and shade.
These classic hanging basket flowers are wonderful sources of nectar for butterflies and moths, including the Humming-bird Hawk-moth.
Be sure to choose a variety with simple, single-petalled flowers. Although
they look attractive, showy layers of double-petals make it harder for
insects to reach the nectar at the base of the flower.