Gardeners waste money with poor plant care


Figures from the Horticultural Trades Association estimate that around £1bn is spent each year on plants and as much as £5bn on other gardening products.

With Easter just around the corner, we are very likely to be going into our garden centres and nurseries to buy plants, yet according to award-winning Beth Chatto Gardens, anything up to a quarter of all plants sold each year are destined not to survive because of a lack of understanding about the plant and its cultivation needs. That can amount up to £250m wasted every year by the nation’s gardeners.

David Ward, Garden and Nursery Director at Beth Chatto Gardens, says the most common reasons garden plants don’t survive are based on a lack of understanding of the plant’s requirements. There are many reasons for plant failure and David cites the following as being among the most common:

*The soil is too dry, or conversely too wet or waterlogged for a particular plant
*Insufficient sun or too much direct exposure to sun
*Soil is either too acidic or alkaline (chalky)
*Plants are too young or tender to be immediately planted out and die of frost damage
*Lack of adequate soil preparation, just forking over and lossening the soil can significantly improve a plant’s chances of success, better still if you can mix in some form of organic matter to aid initial establishment.
*Realistic expectations – don’t expect annuals or tender perennials to survive the winter, or the plants to reach their full height within a year.

boxstrap-gardens-3“It’s a shame so many perfectly good plants don’t survive and people are spending money they can ill afford to waste,” says David. “Speaking to so many gardeners it is easy to understand how this happens, especially when there are so many lovely and unusual plants to be seen on television, on display in garden centres and even these days, outside your local supermarket. No wonder people are tempted and inevitably want to try and grow them, regardless of whether the plants are suitable for the conditions in their gardens.

David says we should all heed Beth Chatto’s advice – “Plants are like people and have very specific needs.”

To give your plants every chance of success, understand your own conditions and soil type,” continues David. “Do read the labels properly at the nursery or garden centre and make sure your newly-acquired treasures are going into the right place in your garden. Instantly you will save yourself a lot of worry, disappointment and some hard earned cash too.  And, most importantly, your plants will flourish. It’s a fact of life that some plants will inevitably fail, which is all part of gardening and some experimentation is necessary. Don’t forget even if you don’t have the right soil or conditions containers are always a good option as you can then control the soil type, drainage and move them into more favourable positions.”

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