Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why I'm NOT buying plants from Home Depot or Lowes

This weekend I stopped at Home Depot to pick up a few supplies for our latest DIY adventure.  I wandered to the garden center with hopes of picking up a new lemon tree and maybe a few new flowers for the garden. 

I was puzzled by a plastic label popping out of each of the plants.  "This plant is protected from problematic Aphids, White flies, Beetles, Mealy Bugs and other unwanted pests by Neonicotinoids."

That name sounded familiar...and why did their choice of wording sound like such a hard-sell?  Like the waiter who comes asking 8 times if I'm really sure I don't want dessert.

I've read up on the topic of Neonicotinoids, and its not pretty.  They are a category of pesticide that affect the nervous system of insects.  The pesticide is absorbed through the plants' root system, works its way through the plant, and usually finds its way into the nectar and pollen. Which is part of their danger - the pollen is where the "good" insects like butterflies and bees do their generous work.

This category of pesticides has been strongly correlated to Colony Collapse Disorder (which destroys entire beehives in a matter of days), declines in butterflies, and even been traced into the birds that feed on the affected insects.  Since the pesticide is usually applied through the soil, and only about 5% of it is absorbed, long-term soil contamination is also a major issue.  Resident earthworms are affected, as well as our water sources, and the plants take years to come "clean" of the pesticides.

Europe has already banned this category of pesticides due to their risk of far-reaching harm into the ecosystem, and The Harvard School of Public Health recently published this article further proving those suspected links between Neonicotinoids and bee scarcity.

With all that research in place and environmental risks so great, why would a national home improvement brand encourage and promote their use?  As it turns out, Home Depot has taken the action to at least be transparent about their use, though they're also silently being sold on plants from Lowe's and Walmart.  By encouraging the average consumer to plant pretty but contaminated flowers in our home gardens, these stores are turning unsuspecting consumers like myself into unwitting butterfly, bird, and bird killers.

I encourage you all to follow me in asking Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowes to STOP promoting and using Neonicotinoids in their Garden Center plants. 

In my eyes this is highly irresponsible, and I'll be loudly boycotting Home Depot until I see change.  With all the projects I have underway it will be a headache to go elsewhere, but I can't bring myself to support their decision to encourage such a dangerous product.  

Shop elsewhere, Tweet, and sign petitions like this one to help get national legislation in place to protect us.

Honestly, are a few aphids on a new tomato plant worth the risk?  I'll let the ladybugs take care of that.  As Joni Mitchell sang..."Give me the spots on my apples, and leave me the birds and the bees - please"

Did you know these chemicals were on your new plants?  What are your thoughts?


UPDATE:  I've continued to research neonics, talk with my local nurseries, and feel this topic out.  My stance has evolved a bit, and I've written about it at "Why I'm SOMETIMES Buying Plants at Home Depot...and How" - please check it out if you're interested in a bee-friendly yard!


  1. http://www.science20.com/jon_entine/part_i_bee_deaths_mystery_solved_neonicotinoids_neonics_may_actually_help_bee_health-149615

    Above link is to report noting that Entomologists and other academic and scientific authorities find the research supposedly finding Neonics to be the cause of CCD to be seriously flawed and not meeting basic experimental standards.

    1. Hi Natasha, thanks for your comment and opening the discussion. Whenever an article focuses on discrediting an individual scientist I find it extremely important to be cautious about of the argument presented. After all, we're talking about the scientific results not the personalitity traits of an individual. This is the same technique used by big tobacco back in the day so I'm a bit skeptical... The data presented doesn't look to be anywhere strong enough to stand against peer-reviewed studies supporting the connection, but is an interesting opinion. Thanks for sharing

  2. Why would someone argue for more chemicals in anything? There are other ways. Compost and rainwater and beneficial insects, etc. Balance and harmony. If the plants got a vote do you think they would pick a diet like the one the growing industry force feeds them?

    1. Hi Dustin, thanks for your comment and passionate response! I agree, plants do so well when grown in a respectful environment! Thanks for sharing your insight

  3. A step in the right direction... This week the EPA announced restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids! http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/epa-calls-halt-use-pesticides-suspected-killing-bees-n334936

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