Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dear Nursery Owners and Nursery Managers, We Need To know....

If the plants you sell are safe for bees.
Native bees, monarch butterflies and a host of other pollinators are in peril from habitat fragmentation and loss, the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides and herbicides (by the agriculture/horticulture industry and home owners) and the introduction of non-native species are known causes of both wide-scale losses in biological diversity and pollinator declines.(More about neonicotinoids Everywhere you turn people are talking about pollinators post.)

Gardeners are already working hard to help pollinators!

We're planting smarter.

We love beautiful blooms in our gardens, but, we don't stop there... We choose plants that are  attractive to the many pollinators that live in and visit our gardens.

We're planting lots of colorful flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen and are host plants for the offspring of butterflies, moths and other beneficial critters.

We're planting an array of flower shapes that appeal to hummingbirds, bees, moths, flies and butterflies.

We plan for bloom from late spring (native ephemerals) to early winter (witch hazels).

We plants native trees and shrubs because we know they are host plants for hundreds of important critters.

We provide nesting spaces for bees and other critters.

We accept that plants are beautiful even if chewed on by critters and we promise to never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides and herbicides in our gardens.

Dear nursery owners and managers, what are you doing to help gardeners help pollinators?

Are your plants pretreated with neonicotinoids?

If you don't know the answer to that question you should find out, because we cannot and will not buy plants that can harm bees and other beneficial critters!

If you do know the answer, then you need to let us know. Post signs near neonicotinoid free bee friendly plants. Inform your sales people, because smart gardeners ask questions and we expect honest answers.

It's the professional and responsible thing to do.


In case you want to read earlier pollinator posts~

Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees (
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)
Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All Be Pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Royalty In The Garden~Monarch Butterfly (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)

Got Wildflowers?(here)
It's Spring and A Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators (here)
The Wildflower and The Bee (here)
A Few Good Reasons To Plant Milkweed (here)
Got Shade? You Can Have Pollinators ( (here)
A Pollinator friendly Shrub (here)
Big Goings On at C and L (here

Where Have All My Pollinators Gone (here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~

Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hover flies (
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)


Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this blog entry! I'm forwarding the link to all my gardening friends - those who garden using no pesticides and herbicides like me, and especially to neighbors who do!

    1. Thank you Sandy. Forwarding links and sharing information about pesticides that are hurting bees is what we all have to do!

  2. You are oh so right. I am sure most nurserymen don't think about pollinators or their (our) woes. A good thing to happen. Love your photos.

  3. You go, Gail! Well said~ Nurseries should put up signs to celebrate being bee-friendly! Thanks for all you do for the #pollinators.

  4. All the plants I bring to our local farmers market are 100% pesticide free. I think this is a trend that will continue to grow over time. It's what most people want!

  5. Thank you so much for highlighting this Gail!

  6. Happy Pollinator Week, Gail! I agree, it's so important to know. We want to help the pollinators, and we don't want to buy plants that will harm them. Such an important issue--thanks for highlighting it!

  7. No neonics at New Moon Nursery, a wholesale propagation nursery in New Jersey. We sell deep plugs and many retail nurseries buy our smaller-sized plants to grow them into bigger sizes. So it's not only the nursery you buy from, but any nursery THEY buy from, if your nursery does not propagate all of their own plants.

    1. Whoops, I had my other hat on when I posted the comment. Verdant Landscapes is a design business I run in the Hudson Valley of New York, and I found New Moon when I needed lots of plants for large plantings. I became such a fan that they hired me. Sorry for the mixup. Edit twice, press "Publish" once. Sigh.

  8. Thank you for publicizing the concern, Gail. I hope all nurseries, at the very least, will declare themselves. Maybe, like restaurant ratings, they should post their status with "Bee" becoming the new A.

  9. The more I learn about this evil, the guiltier I feel for ever recommending and using it, but that was in another life, and hopefully I have built up a bank of good garden karma since then.

  10. Definitely! I was so sad when I found out that the plants I had bought from Lowes and Home Depot had likely been grown with these pesticides - and here I was trying to garden for bees and butterflies and other wildlife! This year I've grown most of my plants from seeds, or gotten pass-a-long plants from other likeminded gardeners. Then I know for sure!

  11. Good message.I have become more careful about what I use and plant, and when in my garden thanks to people like you spreading the word. I have also become more observant of the polinators' habits and activities, allowing me to make better decisions.

  12. Such an important message Gail! After all, the garden centres and nurseries are the ones to set an example. Thanks for highlighting this issue!

  13. Excellent post, Gail - thank you! This is so important - and we, as buyers, must always ask.

    On a happy note - this year we have seen so very many more bees and butterflies here. It is so heartening.

  14. In the UK we are in the middle of a two year experimental farming and home use neonicotinoid spray ban, but as far as I am aware that does not cover seed coatings and for how long the coatings are toxic for, it could well be longer than two years. Buying from Organic nurseries is one way to help and saving seed ourselves another. I am very glad you posted this, I hope more people will become aware.

  15. Great message set to the most beautiful photos - thank you again! Now I have to go forward this to a gazillion people.

  16. I was under the impression that these pesticides were just used on corn and soy and are now under strict laws in Ontario. I'm certainly going to give my supplier a call to see what's what. If the consumers don't buy the product, often that pressure is far more effective and speedy than anything the government could do. Good post. B.

  17. Thanks for the timely reminder, Gail! I've been plant shopping at all of our local garden centers--trying to keep them all in business:) And yet I keep forgetting to ask about this. Next time I shop, I promise I'll check!

  18. Yes.. My Nature Notes meme was in celebration of pollinator week. Hubby and I have planted over 50 native plants and removed non-natives the past 4 years and we are novice gardeners... Michelle

  19. Hello Gail girl and I totally agree with Barbara .. distributors should be a lot more proactive about pollinators and the plants they are attracted to ! .. customers that buy and NOT buy do have more power than legislation in the end .. so we can control what plants they come up with to sell !
    Love your pictures : )

  20. I have been very frustrated lately as many nurseries I visit would not answer my questions or were so evasive I knew the answer. I will have to do a lot of homework to find one who does not spray.

  21. Like, like, like! I just wish they'd listen to you, after all, you've asked so nicely.

  22. They're not safe. I worked with my local nursery this winter to try and bring in clean plants and wasn't very successful. They couldn't find any growers willing to grow without pesticides. They did manage to bring in herbs and a few annuals that hadn't been treated but everything else was packed with neonics. To solve the problem I turned to a few online nurseries that propagate their own plants and I grew most of my own annuals from seed. Until the public is willing to accept less than perfect plants, nothing will change. The public is as much at fault as the growers because demand dictates supply. While serious gardeners don't mind a few bug holes, the garden-lite masses fuel the nursery sales and perfection is in demand.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson