Many rows of tables with several shelves, full of plants at the Friends School Plant SaleFriends School Plant Sale is committed to doing everything we can to bring you plants grown without the systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids. Until neonics are banned, we will continue to ask about neonic exposure in the plants that we order, particularly new plants from new growers, and to refuse to sell any plant we have concerns about. 

Fortunately, as growers have responded to public pressure against neonics, more plants we believe are neonic-free have become available, and we are able to offer you a wider selection of plants than we could when we first started looking at this question three years ago. 

For a more in-depth look at what we do and why, see our article on this from 2014

Because of the persistence of neonics in the plants over time and the complexity of some growing practices in the nursery business, we cannot absolutely guarantee that every plant at the sale is free of neonics. We can, however, guarantee that we will always take this issue seriously. We promise that we have done the necessary background research, and that we will never knowingly sell you a plant that has been neonic-exposed.  

If you’d like to find out more about our efforts, send us an email at [email protected] or talk with us at the Info Desk in May.

How can a gardener be sure any plant is free of ­neonic ­pesticides?

The only way to know for sure that a plant is free of systemic pesticides is to grow it yourself from organic seeds or to buy organically grown plants. The USDA Organic certification is the only standard that exists that restricts the use of neonics and documents it. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is working on a new state standard for neonics, but it is not available yet.

However, there are many growers whose practices we know and trust, and if they are buying untreated seed or cuttings from growers they know and trust, we can all be pretty sure the plant is not affected.

When you shop at other garden centers, ask them:

  • Have YOU ever used neonics on this plant or its soil? 
  • If you got the seed, cutting, or young plant from ­elsewhere, has it or its parent plant ever had neonics used on it?

Remember: neonics stay in the plant and in the soil. 


And what about jumping worms?