Five trends that caught our eye at the HTA National Plant Show

The National Plant Show, run by the HTA, is the only UK trade show dedicated to British plants and is a key staple in the horticultural calendar bringing together UK growers, suppliers and garden retailers.

The show, now in its ninth year, took place on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 June at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry and Team HWPR went along to see new plants to the market, hear about the latest trends and to catch up and network with key peers in the industry.

Here are the top five trends that caught our attention at the show:

 

Convenience Gardening

One thing that caught our eye was a new concept called ‘Pop Plant’ which was being showcased on the KinderGarden/Ball Colegrave stand.  There has been a steady increase in convenience gardening due to the decline of basic horticultural knowledge amongst younger gardeners.  As outdoor plots and balconies also get smaller there has been a rise in demand products to suit today’s urban and rental lifestyle.

The Pop Plant, available in 11 assorted colours and plant options is an entry level gardening product, ideal for novice gardeners.  It offers a quick and effortless way of planting a hanging basket and already comes with plants, fertiliser and compost – it just needs to be popped into a container basket or hanging basket and it’s good to go, providing instant summer colour for the consumer with no effort.

Farplants were showing its new alpine range, Small Plants for Small Gardens.  The campaign is ideal for millennials with limited outdoor plots as alpines are compact are easy to grow and will bring a small space to life.

 Low Maintenance Plants

Following on from the convenience trend mentioned above, many growers were exhibiting low maintenance plants on their stands such as grasses, Phormium, Eryngium, Dianella and Cordyline all being offered as well as traditional gardening staples.

Houseplants were popular in the show also with many growers offering a range on their stands.  Houseplants are a key retail growth area, up 14.27% year-on-year according to latest Garden Centre Association data.   This sudden growth has been spurred on by social media users – in particular on Instagram so it was no wonder that Javado showcased its vast array of Phalaenopsis and cambria orchids, as well as the ever popular Zantedeschia Cala Lilies – all “Insta-friendly”.

With there now being an increasing awareness of the ways that plants can improve mental wellbeing and physical health, plants such as dracaena, chrysanthemums, potted herbs with aromatics like lavender and ficus were highly sought after, with the latter Ficus Elastica Petit Melany, one of the most effective plants for filtering the air, winning Best in Category in the Houseplants Awards.

 

Roses

Roses are set to see a boost this season with gardening writer and horticulturist Peter Seabrook spearheading a National Rose Festival from 23rd June – 1st July.   With over 60 garden centres signed up across the country, an abundance of roses was being showcased by David Austin, Burston Nurseries and Whartons Nurseries.

The beautiful Rose ‘Timeless Purple’ from Whartons was awarded Gold and Best in Category for Shrubs and Climbers.

From hybrid teas to floribundas, the roses were a feast for the senses as the inaugural festival kicks off next week.

New Plants

The New Plants are the heart of the HTA show and this year they certainly didn’t disappoint.  The winner of Best in Show was the eye-catching Laburnum anagyroides Yellow Rocket® from Frank P Matthews.  A very traditional plant, the upright and compact tree is ideal for containers and small spaces such as balconies and yards.  With beautiful, bright yellow flowers resembling bunches of grapes, it is the perfect pollinator plant for bees too!

One of our personal favourites in the New Plant area was the Hydrangea paniculate Polestar, entered by Lovania Nurseries and bred by Breeder Plants BV.  Hydrangeas were once considered to be old fashioned but are gaining popularity again due to the increase in their use across interior trends, fashion and design.  Polestar is a compact but delicate Hydrangea with blooms that go from white to pink through the gardening season and is ideal as a patio plant or in a border in a garden – truly beautiful!

Merchandising

Stands had really raised their game this year with their merchandising displays which provided plenty of inspirational ideas that can easily be replicated by garden centres.   Lovania Nurseries were in the World Cup spirit with a St George’s flag made from alpine plants on their stand, an idea that could easily be transferred in store.

Bransford Webbs stand was made up with colouring pencils with a vibrant colour wheel of blooms, simple but eye catching but could inspire children into gardening or recreated in a school garden.  Allensmore Nurseries had a patriotic Royal Wedding display with “Love” in neon letters, whilst Javado showcased an impressive way of merchandising houseplants which included planted up terrariums and jars, which could be used by garden centres to try and engage a younger and more design led audience.