Dig it - July Tips From The Secret Gardener

HBHM in garden

In honour of this month’s Moth Night why not supplement your butterfly garden with some moth-friendly flora?

Not all moths drink nectar and those that do are likely to visit the same flowers as butterflies but they are most attracted to a strong scent or tubular-shaped flowers. There are quite a few pretty plants you can add especially to encourage moths.

Ensure you garden contains night-scented blossom such as Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum, Common Jasmine Jasminum officinale, Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis and Night-scented Stock Matthiola bicornis.

The Humming-bird Hawk-moth is a particularly prized garden visitor. This migrant species, that does indeed resemble a tiny hummingbird, has been reported to nectar on flowers including Buddleia, Busy Lizzy, Geranium, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lavender, Petunia, Phlox, and Red Valerian.

PenstemonFlowers of most Penstemon species attract a wide variety of insect pollinators including bees, wasps, bee flies and moths.  

Penstemons are a great choice for wildlife-friendly gardeners. Their tubular flowers on spikes of around 60cm high give them a similar appearance to their close family member - the Foxglove. They grow best in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade and will keep flowering from early summer to late autumn if regularly deadheaded. They are hardy perennials and will die down in autumn to return next spring.

Create an eruption of colour in borders or containers with three types of Volcano Penstemon: Vesuvius (purple with white throats), Etna (fiery red) and Kilimanjaro (mid pink with white throats). There is even a scented variety, Penstemon Palmeri, which can reach 2m tall. As a fan of Penstemons, I would be interested to hear of any specific moths nectaring on them.

Elephant Hawk-moth on HoneysuckleIn addition to nectar plants, you can cater for moths caterpillars with foodplants like Honeysuckle, which is consumed by caterpillars of the Early Grey and Twenty-plume Moth.

Mint Mentha spp is the foodplant for Mint Moth Pyrausta aurata and Beautiful Plume Amblyptilia acanthadactyla caterpillars.

There are many other moths you might find in your garden at this time of year – look out for the Burnished Brass, Garden Tiger, Elephant Hawk-moth, Swallow-tailed Moth and the day-flying Silver Y. Hopefully the weather will be kind for Moth Night and there will be plenty to see.

Enjoy your garden in July.

Happy Gardening!
The Secret Gardener