Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics!

| September 9, 2014 | 8 Replies

Bonnie is so bonny: No Neonics! When you go to a nursery to buy plants, do you ever imagine what goes into the effort of getting those plants on the shelves? Last March, I found out when I visited a Bonnie Plants regional nursery.

Bonnie is so Bonny: No neonics! - Wesley

Bonnie Plant Station Manager Wesley Pennington in one of the nursery buildings

On a cold, grey, snow-threatening day, my brother and sister-in-law were showing my son, Walker, and I around Abingdon, Virginia. I spotted what looked like a big greenhouse on a hill. I wondered what might be growing inside, so we drove up. A man loading a truck turned out to be the station manager, Wesley Pennington, and he welcomed me to take a look around. Inside were thousands of seedlings in numerous buildings originally owned by a flower grower before it was sold to Bonnie Plants.

Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics! - Thousands of nursery plants

Thousands of nursery seedlings in Bonnie Plants’ Abingdon, VA, nursery

There have been many articles linking the use of neonicotinoids – a class of insecticide – with bee colony collapse disorder (CCD). A Google search of CCD revealed about 511,000 results. Early in 2014, I was receiving an email a day about some of the large box stores, like Lowes and Home Depot, carrying nursery plants that had been tainted with neonicotinoids. (Too many people had trouble pronouncing the word, so they shortened it to neonics.) An unsuspecting buyer could be planting these seedlings into their food gardens. These emails were calls to action to pressure the box stores to stop carrying nursery plants that had been treated with pesticides containing neonicotinoids.

Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics - Roma tomato plants

Rows of Roma tomato plants

In case you are not aware, our hard-working honey bees are in serious decline. “The list of crops that simply won’t grow without honey bees is a long one: Apples, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, carrots, avocados, almonds … and it goes on. Without bees to pollinate many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, the United States could lose $15 billion worth of crops — not to mention what it would do to your diet,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) article, “Vanishing Bees.”

Think of the irony, a grower uses an insecticide on her garden or farm, which kills off the bees she depends on to pollinate the crops.

Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics - Bee & Borage

Honeybees love borage blooms in my garden!

The plight of the honeybee foremost in my mind, I asked Mr. Pennington about Bonnie Plants. He assured me they do not use neonicotinoids in their nurseries. Bonnie is so Bonny: no neonics! Bonnie Plants “Our Roots Run Deep” has been around since 1918.

Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics! - peppers

Nursery building full of young pepper plants

They have several nurseries spread around the country to supply different regions. However, according to Mother Earth News, “Unless you’re buying certified organic transplants this spring, you may be introducing persistent neonicotinoid insecticides into your garden — and thus into your food,” so it pays to inquire.

Read more:

Bonnie is so Bonny: No Neonics - Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants in Bonnie Plants Abingdon nursery

While much of the country is still deep in winter and gardeners are merely dreaming of their spring and summer gardens, plant nurseries are in full operation, in fact, this facility operates during six months of the year, and closes when all the seedlings are shipped out in spring. That’s when Mr. Pennington packs up his young family heads South.

Bonny is so Bonny: No Neonics! - Toys

Toys packed for travel

Have you visited or worked in a nursery? Are you amazed by the sheer number of plants? I am. Especially when you consider there are many companies producing seedlings for sale. Do you ask your nursery for plants that haven’t been treated with neonicotinoids?

In fact, Home Depot felt the heat of consumer pressure, and decided to ban or demand labeling, according to Environmental Leader. “Home Depot to Require Neonicotinoids Labeling,” July 1, 2014. In Canada, beekeepers are taking legal action. “Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides. We can make a difference! Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know and share with a friend. Thanks for your support! ~ Kaye

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Category: Bee Crisis, Community, Environment

Comments (8)

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  1. Sharon Carson says:

    I worked at a nursery a few years back .Their handling of toxic chemicans and the poor women they had working for them was criminal. I did not report them and should have.A few years back there was an aweful tomato blight caused by box store tomatoes . I never had any blight in my 20 some varieties of heirloom tomatoes but folks who bought plants from the box stores got it as well as huge feilds south of us in Virginia were black with the diseased plants. The solution is to grow your own or from a local organic grower you trust

  2. Claudia says:

    Today I bought some plants at Home Depot. When I got home I noticed the labels saying they are “protected” with neonicitinoids. I did a little research and returned the plants. I am grateful to Home Depot for requiring this labeling. I was not aware that the plants I buy could be contributing to killing bees. Thanks Sharon Carson for the info. I now realize the importance of growing my own plants from organic seeds.

    • Thank you, Claudia, for this contribution! It’s a big step for corporate to protect the consumer with labeling and a shame we have to fight tooth and nail, just for labeling! But, thankfully more people are waking up to the poisonous world that corporate has given us. Spread the word to your garden friends and thanks for supporting Late Bloomer! – Kaye

  3. Marlene Krantz says:

    I bought a plant at Home Depot and it has neonictinoids Right next to it was a bonnie plant. But I’m not sure if it also has neonictinoids or not??

    • Yes, this is a huge concern of mine, and I deeply apologize for not responding sooner. While it’s great that HD labels it’s products grown with neonicotinoids, does this not endanger any bee that pollinates a flower then moves to one of your other plants? I don’t know the answer, which is why I’ve been reluctant to buy plants at HD. If I find out anything conclusive, I will let you know. But, it seems like a risk to me, and with so many other nurseries that do not carry plants raised with neonics, I avoid HD plants. If you have no other option, I would contact Bonnie Plants for their response.

  4. Maria L. Russo says:

    But does the retail whom receive your shipment, use these pesticides/food to your plants. Buying Miracle Gro & using Vigo Fertilizer, someone said for me to ask so many questions. I believe, in Cinnamon/Chilies w/water. What will kill the insects can kill us. Please advise if your retail accounts use toxic procedures caring for the plants of which they have purchased. I think that a reputable company would follow up on their clients procedures. I am sorry I am so forward, I keep an Organic Garden & all of sudden I am recommended to use Miracle Gro. Thank you for your kindness.
    Maria RUsso

    • I hope they will answer. I don’t know. You are right to use natural methods! Miracle Gro, like many companies, is trying to cash in on the “organic” buying consumer. So, they carry “organic” products. I don’t know if they truly are. If you have natural methods that work for your garden, continue them! We have way too many chemicals poisoning our planet. Thanks for reading and writing!

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