Sourcing Bee-friendly Plants

Sourcing Bee-friendly Plants

WildNet - Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

It’s a gardener’s greatest joy, to watch the bees visit their flowers in the spring and to hear the loud buzzing of summer all around. Sadly, supporting our bees is not as straight forward as planting lots of lovely flowers.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a type of systemic pesticide. They have long been used to treat food and horticultural plants to protect them against aphids and other pests. Unfortunately, it was found that the neonics were also coming out in the pollen and nectar of flowering plants.  

Bees collect the pollen and nectar and are slowly poisoned. Thankfully, the three worst types of neonics for bees, were banned in 2018 for use on flowering outdoor crops however this didn’t include plants which are being raised in greenhouses, like so many of our garden center plants.  

A study by Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University, found that 70% of the garden plants sold at large supermarkets, DIY shops, and garden centers, contain bee-killing pesticides. This even happens in plants that are labeled with the RHS Perfect for Pollinators label. If the plant was sprayed with the pesticide at a nursery, the neonics will be coming out in the pollen and nectar of that plant for two years! 

So what can we do to avoid this? As well as not using any garden chemicals in our gardens, wildlife-friendly gardeners also need to be looking for pesticide-free or organic garden plants. This isn’t as easy as sourcing organic vegetables unfortunately but there are a few wonderful Kentish nurseries and online suppliers now offering organic flowering plants.  



Buff-tailed Bumblebee ©Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

In Whitstable, Enchanted Gardens nursery sell a wonderful selection of wildlife-friendly flowering plants, all grown organically. 

Victoriana Nursery Gardens is a lovely place to visit when you can again but they do sell their products online from their nursery in Challock, near Ashford.

B & Q garden centres haven’t used neonics on their garden plants since 2018.

Although an edibles nursery, Edible Culture in Faversham, is a delight for any gardener to visit and they go far beyond not using pesticides. They have developed the plastic-free posipot plant pot system and you can buy your grass seed and organic fertilizers loose or in your own containers. Their herbs and fruit trees are perfect for any ornamental garden. They are doing local delivery during the lockdown.

Just over the border in Peacehaven are Louvain Organic Nurseries, who are still open during lockdown.

Online, there are a few more options. Peat Free Plants from Caves Folly have a large selection and although the shipping is pricey, the plants make up for it by being good quality and cheap.     

Natural Bulbs produce and ship organic flowering bulbs from the Netherlands.

Tamar Organics produce a lovely selection of easy to grow seeds for perennial and annual plants. 

Learn more about insect-friendly plants and make the pledge to take #ActionForInsects here.  

You can also visit the Wild about Gardens page for more information on how you can create wilder spaces.