Pesticide Free Nurseries and Seed Companies

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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.img_4460

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.

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Honeybees bring back pollen to the hive from flowers that could be contaminated with neonics

 

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

Greener Earth Nursery – OR

High Country Gardens – NM/CO

Hostas Direct – MN

Iseli Nursery- OR

Joy Creek Nursery – OR

Lazy S’s Farm Nursery – VA

Mountain Valley Growers – CA

Niche Gardens – NC

Plant Delights-NC

Prairie Moon Nursery – MN

Prairie Nursery – WI

Rolling River Nursery – CA

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

Big Box

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.

This is where it all starts-Monarchs mating
Neonics affect all insects, not just honeybees

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.

Every certified backyard habitat has a variety of plants-pollinator attracting ones and evergreens that shelter animals
Every certified backyard habitat has a variety of plants-pollinator attracting ones and evergreens that shelter animals

Neonics aren’t all bad. The application process is safe in comparison to spraying of the old organic phosphate chemicals.  Neonicotinoids are watered in and taken up by the plants roots to treat the plant internally, so when they are applied correctly, there is less potential for agricultural workers to be exposed to harmful chemicals, plus less residue left externally. 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.

Pollen is collected from flowers and carried by the bee to the hive
Pollen is collected from flowers and carried by the bee to the hive

Pollen is the problem with neonics. When plants treated with a neonicotinoid produce flowers and pollen, the pesticide is contained within the pollen and bees bring it home to their hive, where even small amounts can build up over time into a concentration that weakens or kills the hive.

Bumblebees are affected by neonics like honeybees
Bumblebees are affected by neonics like honeybees

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.

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Some seed companies that don’t use neonics

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
  • Burpee
  • Denali Seed Company
  • Fedco
  • 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

Ladew Garden Festival 2016

Ladew Topiary Gardens iconic scene of the flx and hounds
Ladew Topiary Gardens iconic scene of the fox and hounds

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Now in its 8th year, the Garden Festival at Ladew Gardens in Monkton, MD, has become the most anticipated specialty plant and garden ornaments sale in the region, featuring an eclectic variety of vendors who specialize in unusual and unique plants and garden related items.

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Beautiful arrangement greets visitors as they enter the Garden Festival
Beautiful containers dot the grounds at Ladew
Colorful containers dot the grounds at Ladew

Garden Festival guests can shop from more than 45 vendors offering hard-to-find perennials and annuals, unusual exotics and container specialties, decorative garden furniture, urns, statuary, and other architectural treasures. I attend every year and get lots of ideas, buy many plants, and meet like-minded plantaholics. You don’t get many casual plant shoppers here, but knowledgeable plant fanatics.

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An antique bird house for sale
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The gardens are in spring bloom
Unique garden items are for sale
Unique garden items are for sale

Attending the lectures and workshops is an added benefit, but I am usually so busy shopping that I don’t have time to attend. After shopping, I also stroll through Ladew’s beautiful historic gardens known for the sculpture of shrubs into fantastic shapes.

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Oversized bird houses are on the grounds

I am always searching for the latest and greatest plants and I am sure to find them at Ladew – at a cost though. The prices aren’t cheap, but you will find things here that you can’t find anywhere else, so I am careful about what I purchase. Since I usually buy wholesale plants, I always get sticker shock when I see retail prices.

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I picked up this yellow Salvia Madrensis which I love for its unusual color and furry leaves

 Forget carrying all those heavy purchased plants around as Ladew volunteers collect your plants in wagons and take them to the parking area where you can drive up and load them up. I still take my portable cart with me as once it is full, I stop!

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Ladew is always looking for quality vendors, and there is usually new ones as well as old favorites. The fairy garden vendor is especially charming and I always stop and admire the miniature gardens.

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Miniature garden for sale
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Verbenas in chair
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Peace Tree Farm booth
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Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm

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This year the Festival will be held Saturday, May 7, from 10 AM to 4 PM at 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD.  For more information, go to Ladew Gardens. This is your opportunity to find plants and ornaments that are rare and beautiful to make your garden a unique place.

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A beautiful spring container at Ladew
Venus Dogwood
Want a Venus Dogwood that has blooms as big as your hand? You will find this at Ladew
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Where else can you find miniature hostas?