Much of the discussion around neonicotinoids focuses on agriculture, but the horticulture industry also uses these chemicals. In a 2014 Friends of the Earth study of flowers for sale at garden centres in Canada, more than 50 percent of the tested plants contained traces of at least one neonicotinoid. Most shocking was that many of these contaminated plants were labelled “bee-friendly”.
Don’t fret. It is possible to source neonicotinoid-free plants that are truly bee and pollinator-friendly. Here are some tips:
- Purchase seeds and plants from organic companies like Urban Harvest and The Cottage Gardener, and from native plant growers, like Native Plants in Claremont and those listed here. Organically-grown native plants can also be purchased at the plant sales listed below.
- Ask organic-growing neighbours to share plants with you. Many gardeners divide their perennials every year or two and are happy to find new homes for their extra plants. Check out our Pollinator Pals poster for some of the most attractive plants for wild bees and butterflies.
Want to help get neonicotinoids off the market and encourage organic and pollinator-friendly horticulture? Here is a list of actions you can take:
- Ask your local big box stores and garden nurseries to source organically-grown and native plants? Then ask them again, and again. There’s some truth to the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” After more than one million people requested that Lowe’s, North America’s second largest home improvement company, stop selling products containing neonicotinoids and bee-attracting plants contaminated with them, the company announced a phase-out to be completed by 2019. See page 27 of this report.
- Forgo chemical pest control products, many of which contain neonicotinoids. Opt for organic or ecological methods of garden care. Your garden is a community of species living and working together. Take some time to observe and research the members of this community. Two excellent resources are Canadian Organic Growers and Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc.
- Write to your local MPP in support of the province’s neonicotinoid restrictions and pollinator health plan, and encourage them to go farther. Comments on the official proposal are due May 7th.
- Sign-up for our e-newsletter and visit our website to learn more about Ontario Nature’s Pollinator Campaign.
Spring 2015 native plant sales
Saturday May 9: North American Native Plant Society sale, Markham Civic Centre
Sunday May 10: High Park sale, Toronto
Saturday May 16 and Sun May 17: Artisans at Work, 2071 Danforth Ave., Toronto
Sunday May 24: Christie Pits, Toronto (this event includes a bike swap and a community arts fest)
Saturday June 6: Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club sale, Fletcher’s Wildlife Garden, Ottawa