Designing An Insect-friendly Garden

Designing an insect-friendly garden. When you plant your garden, you should always think about our insects.

Did you know that at least 60% of all animal species are insects? They need your support!
Due to our modern agriculture, in which mainly monocultures of crops are grown, insects find less and less food.

Create an ideal habitat for insects where they can find enough pollen and nectar!

If you make your garden insect-friendly, you will not only create an oasis for yourself, but also for beetles, butterflies, hoverflies, bumblebees and bees.

It is simply wonderful to observe all these animals while walking around the garden.

In addition, you attract birds to your garden. Where there are insects, birds are not far away. After all, they feed on them.

As our native bird species find fewer and fewer insects, they will be grateful to find enough food. Believe me, it’s only between the humming and chirping that the perfect garden feeling sets in.
Since insects also provide hedgehogs with a food source, one or the other prickly fellow will be in your garden.

Tip: Before you start in a hurry and are already on the way to the next hardware store in your mind, stop!

Sit down in your garden and take a few minutes. Observe exactly which insect species are present in your garden.
Are you aware that without bees there would be no flowers?

Even worse: without bees, no fruit, no vegetables – simply nothing!

Bees are beneficial insects. They provide the necessary pollination. Bees are irreplaceable for our survival.

Wild bees and honey bees hardly find any food in the aesthetic green spaces of our modern western cities.

What humans enjoy means loss of habitat for insects. Additional nesting and feeding places are therefore extremely important for the preservation of our bees.
If you plant crocuses, daffodils or snowdrops, these serve as a welcome food supplement for the bees in spring.

Besides fruit trees in bloom, willow catkins are also bee-friendly. These act like a magnet to them.

Marigolds, bellflowers and goldenrod are also popular.

During the year, bees love to feast on lavender, thyme, peppermint, sage and rosemary.

Fennel is just as much in demand. It belongs to the so-called umbelliferae. Both bees and hoverflies can hardly let go of it.

Designing An Insect-friendly Garden

Perennial beds attract bees

If you choose wild perennials, you will enjoy bees in your garden from March to October.
Because of the different flowering times, wild bees and honey bees will find food in your garden all year round.

Create a wildflower meadow

Instead of a tennis lawn, you can plant a wildflower meadow. However, do not buy a classic wildflower mix at the nearest hardware store.

This will only attract honey bees.

If you want to do justice to all bee species, choose a regional wildflower seed. Mow the meadow only twice a year after the flowers have leafed out.

Starting in the fall, bees use vegetable plants and herbs that are late blooming.

Bee-friendly woody plants and shrubs

But it’s not just bee-friendly flowers and herbs that can provide the buzzers with essential food for survival; shrubs, woody plants and bushes can also make an important contribution to a bee-friendly garden.
The following hedges are bee-friendly:

  • Hawthorn
  • Snowberry
  • Willow
  • Cornelian cherry
  • Wild rose
  • Ivy

Do not cut back plants in autumn
Don’t cut back all your plants in the fall. Plant stems provide nesting and roosting sites for bees.

Also, bee larvae overwinter in the stems to hatch the following spring. If you offer insects dead wood and rocks in your garden, you create a perfect shelter.

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How can you help bees?

You can help bees by following these tips:

  • Buy organic food: organic farms do not use pesticides. In addition, their farming practices are insect-friendly through mixed rather than monoculture farming.
  • Keep your garden clutter-free: the wilder your garden, the better for insects. Plant native plants for bees and pollinators of all kinds.
  • Use native plants: regional plants create an oasis for different species of bees.
  • Establish a water trough: Bee watering troughs are popular in the spring and summer. If bees can’t find water when it’s warm, they will die. It is important to have shallow access so they do not drown. If they are provided with moss, sticks and stones, they can easily crawl out. You should renew the water regularly.
  • Buy regional honey: If it is not available, look for the Fair Trade seal.
  • Rinse honey jars before disposing of them: Bees also prey on used glass containers. If they ingest the honey, there is a risk of germs. This can endanger the entire hive. It is best to take the empty jars to the beekeeper around the corner. He is certainly happy about it.
  • In my video I show you my self-sufficient garden and go in it also on insects such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies. Have fun watching.

Bumblebee friendly garden

Bumblebees need food every day from spring to fall.

Only three days are enough and they starve to death.
If you offer enough pollen and nectar in your garden, you can save an entire bumblebee colony from dying.

Which plants do bumblebees like?

Lupines, for example, are popular with bumblebees. They have an irresistible effect on them. Watching the bumblebees crawl into the calyxes makes every gardener’s heart beat faster.

Ornamental leeks, corn poppies, milk thistles and foxgloves are also among the plants that bumblebees love to visit. Plants with tubular flowers are generally preferred by bumblebees.

Catmint, sage, lemon balm and snapdragon, as well as ivy, also provide bumblebees with a rich food supply.

Bumblebee-friendly hedges

If you want to border your garden with hedges, choose bumblebee-friendly plants. Elderberry, privet, raspberry and hawthorn will gladden every bumblebee’s heart.

Note: If you have a meadow area in your garden, leave the dandelion exactly where it is. It offers bumblebees everything they need to live.
Yarrow, buttercups and deadnettles are just as desirable. One man’s weed is another man’s food. Don’t forget that!

Butterfly friendly garden

The Greeks already knew about the beauty of butterflies.

Nowadays, more than 60% of the pretty winged animals are threatened. They are on the red list of endangered species.

The use of pesticides and human transformation of formerly natural habitats are killing off any butterfly species.

That’s why it’s important for you to act!

For next summer, you can create biotopes in your garden that will provide an ideal nectar refueling station for the colorful insects.
Before a butterfly becomes such a colorful fellow, it is a caterpillar. Therefore, first of all, you need to offer the caterpillars rich food.

Food for butterfly caterpillars

They are less interested in sweet nectar, but mainly in juicy green leaves. Let a small part of the garden deliberately go wild.

The small caterpillars feel especially at home on the so-called weeds. Nettles and thistles offer them everything they need to feed.

Butterflies, on the other hand, prefer native plants such as shrubs and trees.

They provide them with sufficient food, shelter in bad weather and a resting place at the same time. Exotic plants, on the other hand, are of no use to our winged friends.

Planting a butterfly meadow

To plant a butterfly meadow, you’ll need a wildflower mix. Since wildflowers thrive better in lean soil, lower the nutrient content of your soil.

Remove some of the existing sod. Add a sand mixture. Then you can sow your flower meadow mixture.
Perennials of all kinds, wild shrubs and all kinds of herbs offer butterflies a diverse food supply.

Feeding and nectar plants for butterflies

Butterflies like lilacs very much. They are particularly fond of the summer lilac. There they suck nectar from the calyxes.

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Phacelia is also appreciated by butterflies and numerous insects. The bright purple of the plant is also a feast for the eyes of any garden lover.

If you grow phlox, your garden will be visited by butterflies just as regularly.

Stonecrop, autumn aster and lavender are a real dream for hungry butterflies.

Help butterflies overwinter

In the fall, you should just leave the pile of leaves. In the cold season, pupae and butterflies overwinter in it. This way they can please your eye in the coming spring.

Some species of butterflies do not tolerate frost. If the temperature drops, they die in nature.

If you have a garden arbor or shed, give them a dry, sheltered place.

If they awaken from their cold torpor in the spring, leave the door or a window open a crack so they can get back into your garden.

Plants for moths

Did you know that at least 80% of all butterflies are nocturnal? These are the so-called moths.

Watching moths in your garden from dusk on can be a real treat.

But frost moths, birch moths, pigeon tails & co. also need moth-friendly plants to survive.

Plant evening primrose, honeysuckle and glueweed. These plants simply cannot be resisted by moths.

What can you do about insect mortality?

Insects need your help to survive, too. We are in a biodiversity crisis.

Every year, many species of insects simply die out.

Insect habitats as well as bees are being destroyed by urbanization, deforestation, intensive agriculture, climate change and draining of rivers and water bodies.

Unobserved by the masses, insect and bee mortality is becoming more dramatic every year.

Each of us has an obligation to help insects and make a small contribution to ensure their survival.

You ask, why?

Without insects, your plate will be empty too. I think that’s a convincing argument. Don’t you think?

How to ensure the survival of insects
Plants with year-round blooms
Plant early bloomers, herbs, flowers and shrubs that will attract various insects throughout the year. Wild plants are always the first choice.

Native plants
Opt for summer lilac, hawthorn and the regional rowan tree. These plants are readily accepted by butterflies.

No pesticides
Treat your plants with natural products. Ladybugs, for example, are used against aphids.

No exotic plants in the garden
Exotic plants are not interesting for native insects.

Piles of stones and leaves
These serve as hiding places for insects. They can hide and are protected.

Offer moist clay
Place clay in a shallow dish in your garden. Bees use it to build nests.

Create a small pond

Here insects will find enough water, even during severe drought and heat in summer.

Blackberry, raspberry and elderberry provide places for insects to nest. Cut the stems lengthwise and hang them.

New varieties of plants – colorful, beautiful, useless.

Insects can not use especially new varieties with frilly, double flowers. Here, the stamens are also the petals.

They are pretty to look at, but useless for our insects. Not only are they denied access because they can’t even get into the flowers – it’s much more dramatic!

These cultivars offer neither nectar nor pollen. Since insects feed their offspring with pollen, they depend on it!

If you buy new plants for your garden, observe whether insects are sitting on these plants.

If they are not, do not buy them. Remember, don’t just plant spring bloomers, insects depend on food in the summer months as well.

Insect-friendly plants

Do you have 2 to 3 square meters of space left in your garden?

This small area is already enough to create a paradise for insects.

The following insect-friendly plants are recommended:

  • Tall stonecrop – rich in pollen
  • Rough-leaf aster – large flowers
  • Mountain aster – tubular flowers
  • Red coneflower – butterfly favorite
  • Dark blue nettle – insect magnet
  • Mountain mint – rich in flowers
  • Meadow daisy – rich in pollen
  • Caucasus cranesbill – insect magnet
  • Insect friendly herb garden

If you are planning an herb bed in your garden, stick to the following plants. You will hardly be able to save yourself from insects.

  • Elderberry
  • Wild garlic
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Lemon balm
  • Raspberry
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Insect friendly balcony plants

You don’t have a garden, but a balcony?

Even on a small scale you can provide food for insects. In the flower box you have the opportunity to provide bumblebees, bees and insects of all kinds.

In addition to the plants already mentioned above, you can plant balcony flowers and perennials.

They serve as a source of food for pollinating insects, as they provide nectar and pollen.

  • Balcony flowers for insects
  • Golden violet
  • Fanflower and bellflower
  • Dahlias (unfilled)
  • Snapdragon
  • Chocolate flower
  • Zinnias (unfilled)
  • Snow heather
  • Male chaff

Balcony perennials for insects

  • Ornamental sage
  • Scabosia
  • Asters
  • Catmint
  • Fat hen
  • Girl’s Eye

Insect friendly climbing plants

Do you want to have climbing plants decorating the facade of your garden house or balcony?

Then opt for climbing plants that are insect friendly.

  • Honeysuckle
  • Wild vine
  • Trumpet flower
  • Ivy
  • Hops
  • Fence beet
  • Creeping knotweed

Is an insect hotel useful?

Yes, an insect hotel is useful. It provides shelter for garden beneficial insects. Especially in the winter months, butterflies, ladybugs and flies depend on a place to overwinter.

Therefore, insect hotels should be provided year-round.

Insect hotels are popular, but often defective because they are made of unsuitable materials.

The construction method also often does not provide the desired benefits. An insect hotel should definitely be made of materials that are close to nature.

The “Dehner Natura Insect Hotel” meets these requirements and has a very good price-performance ratio.

Are umbellifers important for insects?

Yes, umbellifers are very important as a food source for insects. Unfortunately, most meadows are mowed several times a year, so the umbellifers do not get a chance to seed.

The diversity of native umbellifers is thus gradually disappearing unnoticed.

Umbellifers are perennial, herbaceous plants that occur mainly in temperate climates. This plant family often develops a taproot and can grow up to several meters tall.

Umbelliferous plants are an excellent food source for bees and insects of all kinds.

As you can see in the picture above, I leave umbellifers in my garden as a food source for insects.

Are insect waterers important in the garden?

Yes, insect watering holes are very important for insects. Just like trees, shrubs, flowers and our pets, insects suffer when it is very hot.

During dry periods, standing water is hard to find (puddles, pools, etc.) because these water sources have dried up. The animals are in danger of dying of thirst.

Now is the time to support the insects with water-filled bowls.

It is important that there is a landing site in the bowls. Whether you choose sticks or stones doesn’t matter.

The landing aid will help insects avoid falling into the water and possibly drowning while taking in liquid.

When it is hot, the water in the insect feeder can quickly become stale. If possible, renew the water regularly so that insects such as bees and bumblebees have fresh water available.

Seed mix bee pasture
Do you want to help bees and insects. Then plant a bee pasture in your garden. This will provide bees and insects with exactly the plants and flowers they need to gather vital nectar.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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