Scott Rusch, product development director at Ball Colegrave sister company Pan American Seed, said durability is the most important attribute new plants need because people's expectations have increased as they expect plants to survive changes in weather including more flooding and drought. Rusch recommended plants such as calibrachoa, interspecific dianthus and impatiens alternatives such as Sunpatiens and Bounce.
Ball Colegrave managing director Sandy Shepherd said: "The industry has never had a better opportunity for growing plant sales. The market's growing - let's take advantage of it." He pointed out that housebuilding is rising and more new varieties are coming through, with containers the consumer preference for growing plants.
Ball Colegrave's summer showcase, which continues to 29 July, has a themed garden centre installation aimed at retailers to give them display inspiration. Shepherd said rather than having rows of plants, the showcase offered inspiration to retailers and consumers.
Top plants showcased include the Grand Daisy, Bidens 'Bee Alive', Verbena Enduroscape, Petunia Tumbelina in blue, Begonia Northern Lights, Begonia Shooting Star and Nemesia 'Scarlet Red'.
Ball Colegrave marketing manager Stuart Lowen said the grower's "Trends" themes bring together plant colours, pots and merchandising ideas to help garden centre sales. The 12 themes that can be recreated in a garden centre are "bridal bouquet", "tangerine twist", "brilliant bling", "city glamour", "Bollywood", "nautical", "urban jungle", "flame", "contemporary", "primary", "sophistication" and "blues".
Lowen said eye-tracking research has showed that customers are influenced by colour but feel overwhelmed in garden centres without the pulling together of plants into displays with colour theming. Hortipak has helped with the point-of-sale (POS) material and merchandising. Floramedia, Joy of Plants, Hortipak, Garden Connect, ICL and IML took part in a POS and merchandising debate at the event.