Protecting wildlife is vital in the modern world. Gardeners are on the frontline of supporting our declining bee and other pollinator populations. We all have a duty to avoid the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides
Cut pesticide use to protect wildlife and pollinators
Protecting wildlife is vital in the modern world. Gardeners are on the frontline of supporting our declining bee and other pollinator populations. We all have a duty to avoid the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides.
How the RHS approaches chemical control use
The RHS avoids pesticide controls wherever possible, as we understand the risks that using these products poses to the wider natural environment and ecosystems. We use an integrated management control programme.
The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner. For example, where pests, diseases or weeds pose a serious threat to the wider environment, to important heritage specimens, to habitat, or to native wildlife. Notifiable species are regulated separately and government requirements must be followed at all times.
To drive forward our integrated approach, we encourage and manage wildlife in our gardens. By making our gardens a haven for wildlife, they provide a natural balance. We also actively accept some damage to plants as this is a vital part of managing a healthy garden.
The benefits of integrated pest management
The RHS wants everyone to reduce their reliance on pesticides to better protect the insects that benefit our gardens and protect the wider ecosystem. This can be achieved by using an integrated approach and using more cultural and biological control methods. For those who want to grow and buy organic plants for pollinators we have created a list of organic nurseries.
The RHS will continue to work with government on the National Pollinator Strategy, which sets out actions and goals to support pollinators and try to answer questions surrounding the causes of pollinator decline, which includes the over-reliance on pesticides.
We ask our members and supporters to avoid using pesticides. It is important to remember that our gardens are a vital ecosystem. Considerate and sustainable horticulture means looking after everything in our gardens for a better natural world. Where there is no reasonable alternative we urge anyone using pesticides to proceed with caution and never spray open flowers. Before considering the use of pesticides please read our guide on controlling pests and diseases without pesticides.
Supporting our pollinators – help by growing more flowering plants
The RHS is determined to provide the advice our members and supporters need to improve the situations for our pollinators. Two of the biggest threats facing our bees and other pollinators is a lack of flowering plants and the overuse of pesticides. Our charity’s research has shown that Britain’s gardens and gardeners are critical to support wildlife, including being a major food resource for pollinators, as there are often more of these insects thriving in gardens than surrounding agricultural land.
Our RHS Plants for Pollinators list has been created by RHS scientists and highlights the best plants to grow for these precious insects. We want everyone to grow more of these plants in their outside spaces to help pollinators to survive.
However, there is more to pollinators than just bees. The RHS has produced a guide for people to find plants that are good for pollinators. Ensuring that everyone has access to this knowledge is important to us as without pollinators our natural environment would suffer.
The charity has been active in promoting plants for bees and has a dedicated advice page on how you can attract some of the 250 plus species of bees and more than 1,500 other pollinator species found in Britain. We have also produced a fantastic top 10 list of patio plants for bees. This list helps everyone, no matter the size of your outside space, to provide bees the plants they thrive upon.
Educating people about pollinator decline
We take our role seriously as a trusted source of expert gardening information. This is why we urge people to read our different reports on protecting pollinators from pesticides. These include:
Our future ambitions
We will utilise the knowledge of our scientists, horticulturists, members, gardeners and work closely with our collaborators to drive forward change within horticulture. We will continue to work closely with the Defra in England and its devolved counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure we influence decision makers. The charity will work with the Chemicals Regulation Directorate and other organisations to find ways to minimise the risk of pesticide use to pollinators.
This is a journey we must embark on together to protect our pollinators. The RHS looks forward to supporting you in making the right decisions for your green space.