Cheerios’ Free Wildflower Seeds Could Do More Harm Than Good

In an effort to save the bees, Cheerios sent out hundreds of wildflower seeds to cereal lovers everywhere. “We’ve exceeded our goal of giving away 100 million seeds—10 times over! But after giving away a 1.5 billion seeds, we’re all out,” the brand said on their website. Well, thank goodness for that! It turns out that some of the seeds they sent out were invasive species, not safe for planting in all areas.

Cheerios sent out generic seed packets to anyone who emailed. That meant, everyone got the same set of  forget-me-nots, poppies, daisies, lavender, hyssop, and roughly a dozen or so other seeds. The thing is, some of those flowers are not native to any part of America.

Now I need some flower friendly weather #honeynutcheerios #bringbackthebees #spring

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So, in essence, they may not be a good flowering plant match for the US honeybees. Forget-me-nots, for example, have been banned in states like Connecticut and Massachusetts for being an “invasive pest.”  

Some states have  also banned the California poppy, one of the poppy blends in the packets. 

Ecologist Kathryn Turner explained to Lifehacker that while technically plants are not a ‘bad thing,’ they can cause damage if planted in locations out of their native range.

Invasive species can out-compete the natives they encounter, they can take up all the space and use up all the resources, they can spread disease, and cause other physical changes to their new homes, all of which can have detrimental effects on native species, and on humans. It doesn’t happen with every plant and in every location, and scientists (like me!) are working now to figure out why that is, how to predict what will cause a problem, how to manage or prevent invasions.”

So far, Cheerios is staying quiet about the seed situation. If you did order the seeds, hold on planting or consult a local botanist to make sure they are safe for your area.

In the meantime, if you have a garden, lay off the pesticides, as that is part of the reason the honeybees are in danger. Also, when you do find the right seeds to set up your  flower garden, leave space for the bees to lay their eggs in and near the ground. 

Read More: Seed Bombing: Plant Wildflowers, Bluebonnets, and More in Seconds