After picking out dead honeybees from a honeycomb frame recently, I pledged to use only plants that are neonic free. Neonics or neonicitonoids have been implicated in recent bee declines as well as other factors, such as loss of habitat and the bee parasite- the varroa mite. There are a number of studies that have conflicting findings and beekeepers aren’t convinced that there is a number one cause. See this article at The Huffington Post and you will be even more unsure what to believe. But I think that limiting the use of neonics will help.
Many gardeners have contacted me who say they are no longer buying plants from regular retail nurseries and seed companies because there is no way to tell if the pollinator-attracting plants they are purchasing have been treated with Neonicotinoids/imidacloprid, etc. As a beekeeper, I am interested in keeping my property free of these systemic pesticides.
Plant Nurseries that don’t use Neonics
Some are wholesale and some are retail; the wholesale ones sell to your local nurseries
Annie’s Annuals – CA
Arrowhead Alpines – WI
Behnkes Nursery – MD, If the plant is listed as Pollinator Friendly, it hasn’t been treated with neonics
Bluestone Perennials – OH
Brushwood Vines – GA
Dancing Oaks – OR
Dawn’s Wild Things – NY
Digging Dog – CA
EcoTulips – VA
Edible Landscaping – VA
Far Reaches Farm – WA
Fernwood Nursery & Gardens, ME
Forest Farm – OR
High Country Gardens – NM/CO
Hostas Direct – MN
Joy Creek Nursery – OR
Niche Gardens – NC
Prairie Moon Nursery – MN
Prairie Nursery – WI
Santa Rosa Gardens – FL
Select Seeds – CT ,They also sell plants
Streambank Gardens – DE
The Tasteful Garden – AL
Tripple Brook Farm – MA
Valley View Farms– MD, Read their policy concerning pesticide use at the link provided
Walters Gardens-MI, this is a wholesale nursery that provides a lot of Proven Winners Plants
Xera Plants – OR
Lowe’s garden stores and BJ’s Wholesale Club have agreed to phase out all neonic-treated products on their shelves. Home Depot has asked its suppliers to label any plants treated with neonics. Many local garden stores are doing the same.
Should you boycott nurseries that use neonicotinoids?
No! Many trees, conifers, ornamental grasses, ferns, and other plants provide habitat and tremendous wildlife value and don’t attract pollinators. There is no need to throw out the diverse array of plants available from these nurseries.
Neonics are both good and bad. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! The application process is relatively safe in comparison to spraying of the old-time organic phosphate chemicals. The old chemicals that were applied were a lot more toxic because they left a residue. The difference with Neonicotinoids is that they are watered in and taken up by the plant roots to permeate the plant internally, all throughout the plant tissues. For a great article disputing that neonics are causing pollinator problems, go to Financial Post. This article says that “Neonics are a minor issue for bee health and the continued false allegations are pulling resources away from stopping the real threat” and that according to an apiculture scientist there are three top reasons for bee colony death and they are “varroa mites, varroa mites, and varroa mites”. These tiny parasite like ticks suck the blood from bees and they can weaken the entire hive.
The problem for bees is the pollen that they collect. When plants treated with a neonicotinoid produce flowers and pollen, the pesticide is concentrated within the pollen and bees bring it home to their hive, where even small amounts can affect the health of the bee.
Many nursery owners who use neonics say they take precautions by not applying them when the plant is in bloom.Though growers who use neonics say they take these precautions, the chemical is still carried through the entire plant system-enough to harm honeybees.
Seed Companies that don’t use Neonics
- Adaptive Seed
- All Good Things Organic Seeds
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds
- Baker Creek
- Blue River Hybrids
- Botanical Interests
- Denali Seed Company
- Goodwin Creek Gardens
- Grow Organic
- Gurney’s Seed Nursery Co
- Harris Seeds
- High Mowing Seeds
- Horizon Herbs
- Hudson Valley Seed Library
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Maine Potato Lady
- Native Seeds
- Northeast Seeds
- Peaceful Valley
- Pinetree Seeds
- Renee’s Garden
- Seed Savers
- Southern Exposure
- Sustainable Seed Company
- Territorial Seed
Other plant sources that are usually safe
Local native plant sales (ask to be 100% sure). Local farmer’s markets ( many growers are not organic and so it is important to ask). If you shop at big box stores and aren’t sure where the plants come from, the grower’s label is usually applied to the pot.Where Can I Find More Information?
So much has been written on this subject and here is some further reading:Xerces Society
Buying Bee-Friendly PlantsHow Your Bee-Friendly Garden May Actually be Killing BeesA Native Bee RancherBeyond PesticidesHome Depot to Label Neonics
15 Replies to “Pesticide Free Nurseries and Seed Companies”
Seize each day ~ 🍀
Thank you for this list. I’ll pass it on.
Hello! I was wondering if you’d heard if folks have been notified about volunteering to decorate the White House.
No one has heard yet. Any day now!
How do we get on the list? The only pesticide we use is insecticidal soap. If that doesn’t work we burn the plants. We grow plants not manufacture them.
No pesticides here at Fernwood Nursery in Maine, would love to be included to such an important list! great post!
Will add! thanks!
Very valuable information. Thanks for posting this, Claire!
Such a helpful post and much appreciated!
Surprised I didn’t see Pinetree seed company on your list. I’ve been ordering seeds from them for years and have always appreciated their great service. I have a small community garden and they provide just the amount of seeds I need at a very reasonable price. I wouldn’t want to discontinue using their products. Could you possibly double check with them? Thanks for your wonderful and informative posts.
You are right! I order from them all the time. They are added!
I would like to have a list for Canada. Have not been able to find one.