Q: What are the essential points to consider when selecting pots and containers?
A: Most growers will look at price, but there are lots of other factors to consider - important factors, too, because they can help speed production of quality plants and improve saleability.
It is important to think about the life expectancy of the pot and its durability, how compatible it is with the nursery's automatic and transport systems, the effect it might have on the plant's root system, whether the hole-pattern and size of holes provides suitable drainage or water holding for the irrigation system employed and the effect of temperature on moisture levels inside.
Look at the ease of handling and storage, the style and material for presentation of the plant and the possibility of overprinting.
Also consider disposal and collection for recycling. If the products are for retailing, find out about the accompanying point-of-sale material. And if the containers are for use outside in the landscape, they need to be strong, durable and frost proof.
Q: What's new to help growers produce top-quality plants, improve saleability and increase profit?
A: Soparco has added a 0.37-litre pot (8.3x8.3x9cm) to its square round range. It has a two-tier base, four label slots and is available with a shiny finish in black, terracotta, pine green or blue.
It can be used in potting machines and an open bottom tray has been developed to hold 10 0.37-litre square round pots and improve the presentation of plants in the garden centre. The trays fit nine units to a Danish trolley shelf.
This summer, Desch Plantpak is adding new products in the E-PLA range of injection moulded decorative pots, hanging pots and bowls, including Vera 19cm and 21cm bowls. The Sandra 22.5cm pot will replace the previous 23cm version to better fit on the Container Centralen trolley.
After a year of absence, the Desch thermoform 19cm hanging pot is again available in terracotta and white. Other new products from the company include a 2x10 Pack Low, 2x10 Pack High, 1x4 pack for 12cm pots and new 50-cell Stabilo trays.
At the Horti Fair in Amsterdam and IPM in Essen, Modiform presented a new tray for the 19cm pot. The tray, holding four pots, is now in production. Other new Modiform products include a 240-cell tray, 104-cell paper-pot tray, 18-module and 28-module packs and trays to carry six 15cm pots and 10 10.6cm pots.
Poppelmann's new Teku plant pot series has been designed for automated plant production. It starts with the 10.5cm pot and features a wider rim to ensure the pots pass through all pot dispensers as well as being safely picked up by pot forks. The U-shaped rim also adds stability to the pot so it does not lose its shape.
Again from Poppelmann, and designed as both a cultivation and sales tray, the Teku 2128/20 has also been developed with automation in mind. It features precision-cut holes in the base of individual cells and the edges enable easy stacking and separation. Each cell holds 105ml of growing medium and is slightly conical shaped to encourage the formation of healthy roots.
Yet another Poppelmann development, the EP 2328/20-10 tray enables the transport of 220 plants per Container Centralen shelf. This tray has 2x10 cavities and works with all tray fillers.
Q: What new products are available for garden centres to stock?
A: The garden market is simply enormous when it comes to propagators, pots, trays, baskets and planters - as a glance through any wholesale catalogue will show.
With the grow-your-own movement showing no signs of slowing down, garden supplies manufacturer The Stewart Company has extended its range of products designed for the experienced vegetable grower and the new enthusiast alike. This includes the Windowsill Propagator and the Electric Kitchen Garden Propagator, both supported by point-of-sale material.
New from Sankey is the Premium Deep Root Propagator. The first of its kind on the market, this propagator lets plants go straight to the bed. There is no need to prick out or pot on. An addition to the company's already extensive range of heated propagators, the 14cm-deep tray is ideal for raising deep-rotting plants and can also be used for starting off winter vegetables and plants with fast growing roots, such as beans and beetroot. It has a recommended price of £19.99 and comes with two free seed trays, baby watering-can and four 9cm pots.
Sankey, based centrally in Nottingham, is promoting green credentials with packaging and product that can be recycled. Where possible, the company has switch production to reprocessed materials. It has also come up with a new colour in its range of decorative pots. Anthracite replicates the beauty of natural carbon in both colour and texture, and can be found in the Trojan and Florence ranges.
A new collection from The Stewart Company, Zurbano Planters (pictured, left and below) are available in two colours, graphite and stone, and in round and square shapes. The 38cm-high planters are manufactured in ABS and feature a striking polished aluminium band insert and a curved wave running from top to bottom. The company has created accompanying point-of-sale materials to enhance consumer appeal and maximise sales.
The Stewart Company marketing manager Alan Slack says: "This launch represents something genuinely innovative for injection moulded planters. The metallic insert and stylish contemporary look is unlike anything else available in this sector of the market and we anticipate an enthusiastic response from trade and consumers."