Everyone’s excited about Cheerios free seed give away through their #BringBacktheBees campaign. Cheerios Honey Nut is my favorite cereal, but I’m not excited about the free seed give away. It’s a good promotional tool for General Mills, but it doesn’t really promote good environment.
Wildflowers vs Native Plants
I know people in general think of wildflowers as good native forage for wildlife. But you and I both know the term wildflowers doesn’t necessarily refer to native flowers. A wildflower is simply a plant — often out of place and growing on its own.
Let’s examine the list of wildflower seeds provided in the General Mills seed packet.
Poppy, California, Orange
Aster, China, Single-Mix
Coreopsis, Lance Leaved
Baby Blue, Eyes
Sweet Alyssum, Tall White
Aster, New England
Since there are no Latin names provided, we are not able to determine if even the potential native plants are native in origin. Many are Eurasian in origin. Some are on state invasive plants lists. Those that aren’t cannot be expected to thrive in any soil and moisture condition. Most of these plants will be out-of-place which means the annuals won’t be able to reseed successfully and the perennials won’t be able to thrive.
Plant Native Bee-Friendly Plants
I have no doubt General Mills had only the best intention with this give-away. After all, they rely on honey bees for sweetening their cereals. But, if you or your family or friends have requested some of this free seed, please think twice about where you plant it. Please don’t create a new opportunity for invasive species.
See Xerces’ Eastern Great Lakes Region Seed Mix for native plants for bees and other pollinators.
USDA’s PLANTS database. (A green state means the plant is native, but check the Introduced, Invasive and Noxious Plants tab to see if the plant is on any federal or state noxious weed list.)
Heather Holm’s new book BEES An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide includes tree, shrub and perennial plant profiles for the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast Regions.
James Havel says
I actually emailed General Mills a couple weeks ago. I applauded their desire to do good, but encouraged them to do a little more research on the subject. I indicated the potential to do more harm than good and that there are plenty of native nurseries that would be more than willing to work with them. After all, they are headquartered in Minnesota. I haven’t heard back so I’m guessing they will just ignore the suggestion. Hopefully they reconsider their approach.
Donna VanBuecken says
Good idea, James. For those who may wish to contact General Mills regarding this matter on-line or via Phone: 1-800-248-7310 or Fax: 1-763-764-8330
Mary Umbaugh says
This seed mix sounds just about what the seed mix for free seeds from #feedthebees is made of. I really didn’t want some of these plants in my flower beds.
Donna VanBuecken says
Hi! Mary — it’s likely the Feed the Bees Native Mix is ok. But I agree with you, their Sun Mix is definitely not something we should using. If you’re from Canada, check out the North American Native Plant Society’s Native Plant Seed Exchange Program. I’ll bet that will meet your needs much better. Good luck!