The 10th HTA National Plant Show proved to be the perfect platform to raise the profile of the hottest new horticultural innovations that will help retailers to grow planteria sales.
Buyers looking for plants with wow factor cannot have failed to miss Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’ from Fairweather’s Nursery, which was crowned Best in Show as the annual horticultural industry extravaganza threw open its doors at Stoneleigh Park on 18-19th June.
“This is the first re-blooming bicolour agapanthus,” said Fairweather’s owner, Patrick Fairweather, who drew attention to the plant’s repeat flowering ability, which offers potential to extend the sales season and generate higher levels of impulse sales.
An improvement on its predecessor Agapanthus ‘Twister,’ the new evergreen South African-bred ‘Fireworks’ survived temperatures as low as -10C in trials, winning a coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit for its ability to fill pots faster and create better value for money plants for consumers. Judges at the HTA National Plant Show described the agapanthus’s profusion of blooms as “reminiscent of a firework display on New Year’s Eve”.
The New Plant Awards, the heart of the HTA National Plant Show, yielded a solution to the problem of impatiens downy mildew, which has seen the £40million UK impatiens market contract by 80% since 2003 as the disease wreaked havoc, wiping out the gardeners’ favourite, Impatiens walleriana, across the country.
New disease-resistant busy Lizzie ‘Beacon’ from Ball Colegrave won gold and best-in-category in the show’s Annuals section. Ball Colegrave’s business development manager, Mike Lewis, explained: “Beacon is highly resistant to downy mildew, a disease that has hammered the bedding plant industry. This resistance is a big selling point.” Available in six colours (red, coral, orange, salmon, violet and white), free posters are available to support retail sales of Beacon impatiens.
Buyers looking for novelties to drive impulse sales were drawn to new dwarf Clematis ‘Elodi’ from The Guernsey Clematis Nursery and The Bransford Webbs Company. General manager at The Guernsey Clematis Nursery, Paul Ingrouille, said: “It’s one of the few clematis that is mound-forming and doesn’t climb. Its dusky pink-red colour has attracted a lot of interest from retailers.” Growing to a height and spread of just 30cm, judges praised the plant’s ability to be cultivated as ground cover. It also opens up the clematis market to flat-dwellers who can grow the new Tudor Patio Series clematis in window boxes or on balconies.
Other novelties included Aloe zebrina ‘Danyz’, winner in the houseplant category, and noted for its sales potential to indoor plant-loving millennials. Topping the trees and conifers category was new Tilia ‘Golden Sunset’ – a striking golden-leaved lime tree from grower Frank P Matthews that was praised for its almost fluorescent bright coral red shoots and buds in the depths of winter, and glowing lime/golden foliage in spring.
Key retail trends emerge at the HTA National Plant Show
As awareness grows about the importance of plants and gardening for mental health, Farplants took the wraps off a new consumer-focused range called ‘Garden your way to Wellbeing’.
Available from June 2020 in new kerbside recyclable taupe pots, the range comprises 20 plant varieties selected for their sensory and mood benefits, and will be backed by supporting point-of-sale material.
Farplants managing director, Brett Avery, said the range would support the industry’s mission to promote the benefits of gardening: “We thoroughly researched the benefits that different varieties bring, to design an engaging range. It will help consumers to consider ways that plants can have an effect on mood and sense of wellbeing. The fresh and modern feel will appeal to new and experienced gardeners alike.” Farplants’ marketing manager, Neil Robertson, added: “We will encourage garden centres to stage wellbeing displays.”
Hot on the heels of the trend for grow-your-own, a new fashion for make-your-own was evident at the show. Key Essentials brand Love Tillys launched its Make Your Own Air Plant Kit – a stand-alone display aimed at the on-trend craft market as well as houseplant fans. POS will encourage consumers to choose a base, air plants and fixings.
Director Mark Smith said the air plant market was growing by at least 20 per cent year-on-year, fuelled by millennials who turn to social media to seek inspiration for indoor displays. Retail stands are “built to sell and to generate impact” and will provide links to handy YouTube videos to help consumers.
Javado was another exhibitor with ambition to cash in on the expanding make-your-own market. The company, which launched its ‘Make your own terrarium’ concept, showcased accessories including glass vases, corks, special tools, soil, pebbles and gravel.
The company said: “This latest urban jungle concept is becoming very popular. With the DIY terrarium concept, retailers only need a few square feet of shop floor to offer customers everything they need to get started. It offers great turnover from a small space.”
In line with consumer concerns about single-use plastics, Javado raised the profile of its new Nature’s Choice pots, made from “100% environmentally friendly” coconut residue.