While my recommendation is to never use pesticides in your garden, your options are not as clear when you buy new plants. Most plants are not labeled as to what (if any) pesticides have been used.
I recently talked to a plant producer and they were very honest about what they did. They said that they do use neonics, but only on a reactive basis. They don’t use Neonics on a proactive basis, but if an area is infested, they will use the pesticides. It all comes down to economics. They have a lot of money invested in plants and need to protect their investment. They also indicated that because they use Neonics at times, that they had to take off the bee and butterfly logo in their catalogs.
The consumer will continue to have trouble buying plants unless they know who has grown the plants and know what their methods are.
The Xerces Society has an article titled, “Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees?” PDF – here
I’ll continue to post articles about this situation below.
This is a recent picture I took at the greenhouses at Forest Park.
The picture says it all, yet hundreds of people were jamming into the greenhouses to buy plants to give to mom for Mother’s Day.
While I know that Home Depot is marking their plants with pesticide labels, I wonder how many of the other plants we buy from other sources, have pesticides used in or on the plants and soil.
Note – a friend told me that she did buy some plants from Home Depot, but did not see the label. When she got home and took the plants out of the pots, she found the pesticide labels pushed down into the soil.
That’s the Catch 22 we face as gardeners. We want beautiful gardens that will attract pollinators, birds and wildlife, but we may be killing them by planting pesticide laden plants.
I was talking to a candidate for state office who was walking the neighborhood and he bragged about the fact that he raises bees. We talked about colony collapse disorder and I asked him if his bees had been affected. He told me that despite the mild winter, he had lost all four of his hives. I wonder if all of the pesticide protected plants that we are putting into the ground may be part of the problem.
Even the “Organic” label may not be enough to indicate safe plants. Here’s a document on the permitted and prohibited items for the organic label.
Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware – is something that we all need to heed when buying plants this year.