Hedgehogs don’t much care for eating plants, they much prefer beetles, caterpillars, slugs and snails, So why are we looking at plants that are good for hedgehogs? Well, if you want happy hogs in your garden, you need to have plenty of the bugs they like to eat. That means growing the plants that the bugs like to eat. The right plants can provide important hedgehog habitat too. So let’s look at the best plants for hedgehogs in your garden.
What Plants Are Good For Hedgehogs?
There are hedgehog-friendly plants for all parts of your garden and all times of the year. Many of them are cheap or even free and very easy to grow.
The Clue’s in the Name
They’re called hedgehogs for a reason. Hedges are really important to them.
Hedges provide perfect hedgehog habitat. They offer cover from predators, places to rest and nesting materials.
Hedges can be great food sources too, as they offer plenty of hiding places for beetles, caterpillars and snails.
A good hedge can even help with your slug problem. Slugs will eat your cabbages and hostas, but they would much prefer to be munching on a decaying leaf under a hedge, just where the hedgehog is most likely to find them.
If you can replace your fences with hedges, then you also give hedgehogs and other wildlife the freedom to roam that they need.
If you are planting a hedge choose deciduous hedging plants:
- Field Maple
- Wild Cherry
These all lose their leaves in winter, providing useful leaf litter and nesting materials for hedgehogs. Caterpillars and other grubs love to eat their leave. Many have flowers in spring for the pollinators and berries in the autumn providing food for birds.
A hedge is a win-win for the wildlife gardener. But if you don’t have room for one, don’t worry. You can create similar habitats in smaller spaces and in different ways.
If you don’t have room for a whole hedge plant one of these species as a single tree. You will still get many of the benefits.
Or, if you are stuck with walls or fences, cover them with climbing plants. Ivy is great. Although it’s evergreen, its leaves are loved by many of our native insects. And a mature ivy also offers shelter for many species.
Native plants have evolved alongside native insects and animals. They are all perfectly adapted to life with one another. Native British plants provide the best source of food for native British insect and animal species. Some species of insect can only feed on one particular native plant.
Native British wildflowers, for example, can be used as part of a meadow patch, or in beds and borders. You might consider:
So wherever you can, choose Native British plants for your garden. They are best for hedgehogs, and as a bonus, you will often find them very easy to grow as well.
More Is More
The lazy gardener is the hedgehog’s friend. And the friend of all other wildlife too.
Hedgehogs and other wildlife will thrive in an abundant or even overgrown garden. Neatly trimmed and cut back is not so welcoming.
A fuller garden with more vegetation provides more habitat for everyone. And the less you are cutting and trimming, the less you will disturb the creatures in your garden.
Equally, all stages of a plant’s life support insect and animal life from seedlings through flowering and fruit, to dying and decaying. Beetles, for example, love decaying plant matter, as do slugs. And fallen leaves make perfect hedgehog nesting material.
So try to garden less. The hedgehogs will thank you for it.
For full borders providing plenty of cover try spreading, clump-forming plants like:
- Cat Mint
- St Johns Wort
Not only are these plants great for hedgehogs, but they will also provide plenty of ground cover, keeping the weeds under control.
Round the Clock and Through the Year
Hedgehogs are nocturnal and hibernate in the winter. But many of the creatures they eat have different lifestyles. They need to feed throughout the day and night, and all through the year.
Moths, for example, provide caterpillars which are loved by hedgehogs. So think of providing plants whose flowers open at night or in the evening, for example:
- Evening Primrose
- Tobacco Plant
- Night Scented Stock
To keep the food sources going year-round, be sure to have something for the insects in the winter. Try:
- Goat Willow
- Winter Flowering Clematis
- Christmas Box
- Snowdrops and Aconites
Keep It Simple
Caterpillars and grubs often feed on the leaves of plants. Butterflies, moths and bees go for the flowers, and the nectar they provide.
The simplest flowers provide the most nectar and attract the most visitors. Older varieties for popular plants produce, more nectar and “open-faced” plants, where you can easily see the centre of the bloom offer easier access.
So choose things like:
- Oxeye Daisy
Let It Grow
Your lawn, that it. You don’t have to go the whole wildflower meadow route – although certainly if you want to put a patch of meadow in that would be amazing.
Just leave longer between cuts and learn to love colours other than green. Plants will start to appear that are wonderful for the creatures your hedgehogs love to eat:
- While Clover
I struggle to stop myself pulling up dandelions, but we had buttercups in the lawn for the first time this year, and some little red field poppies which were gorgeous. I’ve got my mowing down to about once a month now, on the highest setting.
Something for the Water
Providing water in your garden for hedgehogs and all wildlife is essential. If you have a pond, you can go a step further and provide edible plants too. These could include:
- Marsh Marigold
- Water Mint
- Water Forget-me-not
- Yellow Flag Iris
A lily on the pond looks lovely, but these native species offer so much more for wildlife and add colour and interest too.
Last But Not Least – Buddleia
Often considered an invasive weed by gardeners and pulled up. Let one or two bushes establish. They are loved by butterflies, are butterflies mean caterpillars, hedgehog food!
When we think about plants that are good for hedgehogs, we focus on plants that provide cover for hedgehogs and food for the creatures that hedgehogs like to eat.
We’ve seen that you don’t need to have lots of time or money or be an expert gardener to grow the things that will help hedgehogs.
Hedgehog-friendly planting is simple and natural with options for any size of garden.
You just need to let yourself go a little wild and enjoy it!
We hope you’ve found this article useful and interesting. We would love to hear about the plants that you find are best for hedgehogs, or hear your questions. Leave us a comment below.
And for more on how to help hedgehogs, visit our hedgehog library here.