Rose bushes are a great addition to any garden. These timeless and elegant flowers have been a favourite for centuries. There is a rose bush for all with so many types and colours. But when you are considering creating a butterfly garden, do roses fit? Do butterflies like roses?
Roses may not be on the top of the list of butterfly’s favourite flowers, but butterflies do like roses a little. Sweet aromas from brightly coloured blooms call butterflies and lure them while an abundance of nectar-rich flowers keeps the butterflies happy and full.
What Else Do Roses Attract?
Roses come in a wide variety of shapes, colours, and sizes. With so many options, it is impossible not to think there is a rose for every insect. The alluring smell of roses and their bright blooms attract butterflies and bees throughout their season.
Not only are these shrubs a perfect addition to your garden, but they also are a great meal for many pollinators.
Bees and butterflies love when flowers are grown close together, making it less work for them to fly between plants. Since rose bushes have multiple blooms at one time, bees and butterflies spend less time flying from flower to flower and more time gathering yummy nectar.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that it’s not all good news. There is a range of garden pests which love roses. These predominately include aphids and thrips.
Any plant that provides nectar, leaf material, pollen and other nutrients will always benefit insects in some way or another. Roses are beneficial to a range of insects including bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and more!
Which Varieties of Rose Attract Butterflies?
When deciding which roses to plant in your garden, you must look closely at what you hope to accomplish with the bush.
If you are hoping to increase pollinators like bees and butterflies, choosing rose bushes that flower in orange, yellow, pink, purple, or white are the best choices.
Bees cannot see the colour red. For bees, anything that is red comes across as black, as they cannot read the wavelengths for the colour. Since bees see red as black, growing red roses, while beautiful, would not entice bees at all.
Butterflies can see red, and they will come to your red flowers. It is thought that butterflies prefer blue, purple, and violet coloured flowers because these flowers tend to have more nectar, however.
While you may not find purple roses at your local big box store’s garden centre, speciality nurseries can help you find these rare rose bush starts.
The most common rose bushes that are readily available at most American big box store’s garden centres are the “Knockout” variety. These specially grown rose bushes are hardier, easy to care for and bloom repeatedly throughout the season.
Even within the common to-find varieties, you will find both miniature and full-size rose bushes. Choosing a miniature rose bush and growing it in a large pot on your patio will add colour and detail to your outdoor space while attracting some winged visitors.
If you have the space, plant rose bushes mixed with other flowering shrubs and plants to create an entire garden space curated for pollinators. Roses tend to come in a few different growth patterns including drifting and climbing.
Drift roses tend to be viewed almost like ground cover. These roses will grow about 2-3 feet tall but continue to grow up to 5 feet wide! These are great for “filler” shrubs in your garden space. Place taller plants or bushes behind them and shorter ones in the front.
Climbing roses are beautiful as they twist and turn up a trellis. These bushes need support and something to grow on. A lattice is a great option to create a wall of roses as the backdrop for your garden setting.
Along with these two popular growing patterns, many types of roses have their own unique size and shape as they reach maturity.
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Why Do Butterflies Like Rose?
Butterflies like roses because they offer a large amount of delicious nectar with minimal effort.
Not only are these flowers flowing with an abundance of food, but they are also clustered close together, making it easy for the butterfly to eat its fill before flying away for the day.
Butterflies also love that most roses are shaped in a way that offers easy access to the nectar. Butterflies and other pollinating insects do not want to work to get their food when there are plenty of other options.
Rose bushes also protect butterflies thanks to their large and often woody stalks. Butterflies can take shelter in these bushes if bad weather arises or they need a solid place to rest.
It is recommended to plant some sturdy shrubs in or near your butterfly garden to create safe havens for butterflies and caterpillars.
The leaves on many rose bushes offer drinking water for butterflies after a rainstorm or thanks to early morning dew. Butterflies cannot swim, so smaller water sources offer hydration without worrying about drowning.
Although some roses are laden with nectar, they are not the most attractive plants for hummingbirds. You can use far better plants to attract them, such as catmint and hostas.
Yes, butterflies do like roses… But they don’t love them! The bright colours and strong aroma will draw butterflies in, but the nectar they contain is often hard to obtain which can be frustrating for a butterfly. Some roses varieties, with more open blooms, are better.
If you want to plant things for butterflies then roses won’t do them any harm but there are far better plants for them such as dianthus and zinnias.