Why I Hate Those Plastic Flowers in Yards and Cemeteries

April 2023

It’s not just because I grow and sell REAL flowers – it’s because I am a bird lover. That’s right. Plastic flowers are bad for birds (and bees and the environment).

Let me explain. Hummingbirds feed on nectar from all types of flowers. They don’t follow their noses to the blooms – they follow their eyes. Hummingbirds, and most other birds, find their food by sight, and it is the bright colors of flowers that attract them. They cannot distinguish between the colors of real flowers and plastic flowers.

Hummingbirds have a very high metabolism and they must eat about every 15 minutes. They may visit 1,000 to 2,000 flowers per day. If they encounter a lot of “fake” flowers, they may visit several times before they finally give up and fly away in search of real flowers with nectar. If they have spent a lot of time trying to feed from the plastic flowers, and if they have to fly very far to find real flowers, they may not make it.

In fact, some studies have shown that thousands of hummingbirds die every year in cemeteries that allow artificial flowers at grave sites. Think about it. A cemetery is usually quite large, and the artificial flowers would resemble a field of wildflowers. The poor birds will exhaust themselves, going from flower to flower searching for nectar, before they become too exhausted to fly to a spot that has real flowers, and they die.

Even people who are not real bird lovers are usually fascinated by hummingbirds, with their bright colors and unusual flight patterns. I’ll bet they would stop displaying artificial flowers outdoors if they understood the harm they might be doing.

In general, artificial plants do nothing to help the environment. They don’t remove carbon dioxide from the air and give us clean oxygen to breathe. They don’t break down into useful organic matter. In fact, they just become more plastic junk to spoil landfills and waterways. And they don’t provide habitat or food for bees and other pollinators.

So while a nice artificial arrangement may have a place inside your home, please, please don’t use them outdoors. If you think real flowers are too hard, there are plenty of places to find out about gardening, like your locally-owned garden center or one of your planty friends. And there are plenty of hardy, easy plants that are easy to care for, if you again, talk with your locally-owned garden center or local Master Gardeners or gardening friends. A nice bed with only bark mulch or some hardy evergreens is far better than plastic flowers.