Activity

Wildlife-friendly plants to grow for moths

Moths are marvellous. They have fascinating markings, can be incredibly colourful and are tasty treats for bats and garden birds.

A Garden Tiger Moth perched on a twig.

There are around 2,500 types of moth in the UK and they’re a key part of the food chain. Sadly, they’re also in decline. But there’s lots we can do in our gardens to boost their numbers. 

You can start by growing scented plants, this helps moths find their food, nectar, even when it’s dark. Letting your grass grow longer, leaving thistles and knapweeds to flower is another easy way to provide moth food. You can also grow plants for moth caterpillars to feed on. Read on to find out how. 

Discover which moths are living in your outdoor space by exploring at night with a low-intensity torch – one that’s not too bright. This ensures you don’t interrupt the moths’ life cycle or risk attracting their predators.  

Wild Challenge

This activity can count towards your Wild Challenge, as the Schools Planting for Wildlife activity or the Families Amazing Moths activity. Head here to find out more.

Estimated time: 3-4 hours Season: Autumn, Summer, Spring Skill level: Easy

Instructions

Select a space

It can be in a border or in pots, you just need a spot where you have room to grow more.

If you have the space, you could grow a border filled with moth food, but you can also grow moth-friendly plants among your other flowers.

A lone Elephant Hawkmoth perched on a green leaf.

Plants for moths

So what do moths eat? Here are some suggestions of what to plant.

For night-flying moths in summer:

  • Tobacco Plant (Nicotiana alata) – for the flower bed
  • Jasmine – a climber to grow up a trellis
  • Native Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) – a climber to grow up a trellis or into a tree
  • Hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) – a perennial plant about 1m tall, with soft, lilac flowerheads that will form a bigger and bigger clump each year
  • Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) – you can grow this flowering plant from seed each year
  • Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) ‘Clotted cream’ – a highly scented plant to grow up a trellis
  • Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) – bright yellow flowers will bring colour to your borders.

For night-flying moths in autumn:

  • Ivy (Hedera helix) – make sure you let it get some sun and it will produce flowers that insects love
  • Michaelmas Daisy (Aster novae-angliae) – purple daisy-like flowers for autumn colour
  • Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile) – bright pink flowers provide an autumn buffet for moths and butterflies

Want a free wildlife-friendly gardening guide?

Our guide is full of ideas for welcoming nature into your outdoor space. Put a few of our tips into action and your garden will be buzzing with wildlife in no time. 

Download The Free Guide 

Partnering with

The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International.More