American Beauties Native Plants Statement on Pesticide Use

American Beauties Native Plants Statement on Pesticide Use


Concern for the environment is a top priority for American Beauties Native Plants and for all of our growers throughout the country. Since our inception, we have been passionate about education. Every year we donate a significant portion of our proceeds to fund environmental education and pollinator research. We are involved with and closely follow all emerging industry science and research on the subject of pollinator health. This is a very emotional and complex issue. We strive to separate science from sentiment and work toward a pesticide free future.

The horticultural industry as a whole is working hard to develop best practices to ensure the safety of pollinators and humans. It will take some time for the industry to adapt. One challenge is that there is no one study we can all look to that has empirical data about neonicotinoids one way or the other. The good news is; important research is now underway. The Horticultural Research Institute’s Grow Wise, Bee Smart TM initiative is beginning to bear fruit. And, many universities have important studies underway as well.

Dr. Raymond Cloyd, professor at Kansas State University is conducting a study on neonics in ornamentals1 (landscape plants). The study will track neonic residues in plants from time of application to when they’re sold at retail. This will be crucial information for nurseries. He says that many people are trying to pin neonics as “the smoking gun,” for bee decline but it’s too complex of an issue to narrow it down to one sole reason. We need to remember that habitat loss, Varroa mite, a fungus called Nosema, transportation, and poor nutrition also effect pollinator decline. Studies by the University of Minnesota2 and PennState3 suggest that when bees have good nutrition, they’re actually able to detoxify pesticides.

We’re not waiting for research results. Our growers are working hard to reduce and eliminate the use of all types of pesticides and they are making great progress. For AB growers the first line of defense is always Integrated Pest Management.4 IPM is an environmentally friendly approach to controlling pests. The vast majority of the time that’s all it takes to grow a healthy plant. Pesticides come into play only in extreme cases such as, defending plants from exotic, invasive, species of insects like; the Japanese Beetle, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle. It’s important to stop the spread of these Asian pests. Pesticide resistant whitefly is another concern. In some cases, pesticides are approved regulatory treatments for certification and interstate movement of nursery and greenhouse crops.

It’s also important to note that all of our growers have professionally trained, state certified applicators. Each person is required to attend pesticide safety training every year in order to become and stay certified. If pesticides must be used as a last resort, these pros follow label instructions exactly and they are never used when plants are in bloom or when pollinators are present.  Catastrophes like the one in Oregon in 2013 where 50,000 bumble bees were killed, happened because the applicators were negligent and applied the pesticide when the trees were “clearly in bloom.”

Scott Black, Executive Director of the Xerces Society wrote “We’re not a ‘no pesticide’ [organization], although personally I would love it if we didn’t use these chemicals, because I do think they’re harmful for the environment and I do think they can be harmful for humans, as well. But we definitely understand and take a nuanced approach by providing education on Integrated Pest Management.”5 We couldn’t agree more. We pledge to keep working diligently to eliminate the use of all pesticides while delivering a healthy, landscape worthy native plants.



1 Should We Nix Neonics?

Jennifer Zurko Grower Talks 2014

2 Dr Marla Spivak University of MN

3 Penn State Rescuing Honey Bee Hives

4 Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms, and the environment.

5 Should We Nix Neonics?

Jennifer Zurko Grower Talks 2014