“One of the biggest problems for bees and other pollinators is a lack of flowering plants. Britain’s gardens, and gardeners, are critical to support pollinators and there are often more of these insects thriving in gardens than surrounding agricultural land.
“It is better for pollinators that gardens are crammed full of Perfect for Pollinator plants, providing them with vital nectar and pollen, than no plants, or plants without flowers.
“People concerned by the decline in pollinator numbers can purchase plants grown without synthetic pesticides from 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 and answer questions surrounding the causes of pollinator decline.
“We advise our hundreds and thousands of members and millions of other gardeners to avoid using pesticides. Where there is no reasonable alternative we urge anyone using pesticides to proceed with caution and never spray open flowers.”
Supporting pollinators and finding answers
In November 2014 the UK Government launched the National Pollinator Strategy (England). We are a key stakeholder of the Strategy, which sets out actions and goals to support pollinators and try and answer some of the questions surrounding causes of pollinator declines. Part of the Strategy encourages gardeners to choose plants that provide resources for pollinators and endorses the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list and logo.
As the country’s leading garden charity we know the crucial role bees and other pollinators play and we are committed to working with all parties to ensure that our members have access to the latest advice on how to protect and encourage pollinators.
We work closely with Defra, the Chemicals Regulation Directorate and other organisations and are careful with the gardening advice we provide too. We advise our hundreds and thousands of members and millions of other gardeners, to avoid using pesticides wherever possible. We urge anyone using pesticides to proceed with caution and never spray open flowers.
RHS Statement on Perfect for Pollinators following Research
We care passionately about a healthy future for our bees and other pollinators, which is why we created the Perfect for Pollinators logo – to help people select the best plants to support these important insects.
One of the biggest problems for pollinators is lack of flowering plants and the Perfect for Pollinators logo has been helping many thousands of people across the UK to select and grow more of these vital plants in their gardens and outside spaces. Our aim has always been to significantly increase the number of flowering plants available to pollinators.
However, we have been reviewing this initiative following a study of UK garden centre plants, which revealed that some plants carrying the pollinator friendly label contained traces of pesticides. For anyone concerned about the research we have created a list of organic nurseries.
The Perfect for Pollinator logo represents plants to grow in gardens that provide valuable resources for pollinators, but it cannot speak for the way in which each individual plant is grown. The RHS is a charity and cannot possibly police how hundreds of thousands of plants are grown within the Horticultural Trade, in the UK and across Europe, before the point of sale. We are, therefore, considering the future of the logo and whether we should withdraw it from the market.
One of the RHS’s key objectives is to help gardeners to garden responsibly and grow more plants; for instance, we promote non-chemical means of control for gardeners and provide extensive advice on alternatives to pesticides. We are currently involved in further research projects to provide evidence of the benefits of certain plants for pollinators. We also continue to work with industry and government to support pollinators through the National Pollinator Strategy.
Ultimately we believe it is better for pollinators that gardens are crammed full of plants that are perfect for pollinators than with no plants or plants without flowers. However, we need more time to continue to explore options for the Perfect for Pollinators logo to make the best decision for our precious bees and other pollinators. We want to continue to promote the planting of flowering plants for bees and other pollinators and are working towards the best route to do this practically.