Buyers' guide - Pots and containers

Innovative products can help growers and retailers to add variety and value, Sally Drury reports.

Orleans bowl: stylish planter from Haddonstone adapted from the Fontainebleau Urn - image: Haddonstone
Orleans bowl: stylish planter from Haddonstone adapted from the Fontainebleau Urn - image: Haddonstone

See our table of pot and container products and suppliers

Q: Are there new products to help increase plant sales?

A: Yes, as LS Systems head of business development and marketing Rick McKeever explains: "Retailers have always relied on new and innovative products to stimulate their markets and drive sales. It's the same for horticulture. While the focus of our sector has always been on improving and expanding the plant stock, focus has now moved to realising the commercial potential of products that surround the plants. Nowhere is this more apparent than the market for new and different pots and planters."

Having anticipated a growth in this market, LS Systems now offers an impressive range of pots and planters that combines fresh, contemporary styling and colours with robust, high-quality construction. With sole distribution rights for some of Europe's most popular brands, the company can supply a diverse range of trays, pots, bedding packs and hanging and decorative pots to give commercial growers, nurseries and garden centres an opportunity to add value and variety as well as creating visually striking displays.

"Colour and design in pots and planters is an exciting development for the horticultural retailer and digital printing gives us the ability to go further by personalising and branding pots," says McKeever. "New materials and manufacturing technology have turned a tired product into something that is as individual as the plant it holds."

Fargro also recognises increasing demand for containers that add value by offering many different colours, shapes and materials. Its new range of decorative galvanised containers has been a success this spring, allowing growers a quick and easy way to promote single plants or planted arrangements.

Recognising that coloured and printed pots need to be seen, LS Systems and Modiform have worked together to produce presentation trays with much lower sides than normal transport trays. "The trick with this tray from a design point of view is to make as much of the pot visible as possible," says Modiform UK sales manager Shaun Herdsman.

"We have achieved this by tilting the base slightly, making the pots and plants face the customer. The tray potentially would be weakened by the lower lip, but the tilt of the pot, together with high-quality manufacturing and material, overcomes any problems, providing the grower with confidence from production to retail display." The range of presentation trays will be expanded in the future.

Modiform has also worked with LS Systems to produce a multi-pot carry pack that holds five 9cm pots or four 9cm pots and one 13cm pot. The pack sits 14 per trolley shelf and allows growers to offer customers a chance to reach a lower retail price point compared to the standard 6x9cm carry pack.

If it is twoor three-litre pots you want to display, try the new slimline 3x17cm and 3x19cm trays from Modiform. These present plants well - seven per trolley shelf - and additionally offer growers increased handling speed.

H Smith Plastics also has new carry trays. A 6x9cm square/round carry pack and a 10.5cm round carry pack are now in production following excellent reception in grower trials.

Soparco has also been busy bringing new products to market, including the 'Read to Go' carrying handle that simply clips to containers to provide a practical means of transport. In all, Soparco makes some 2,000 different products, but the company's SX pots are fast becoming the flagship.

For this season, 2L, 3L and 3L pots are additionally offered in fuchsia, violet, green, yellow and red.

Q: What about reducing losses and increasing shelf life?

A: Modiform has introduced a couple of great ideas to solve the problem of losses in the retail sector. The Aqua Pad in Tray, for instance, can reduce loses by up to 10 per cent as well as prolonging the life of the plant by up to 30 per cent.

Another solution from Modiform is based around an injection-moulded patio pot. The idea is for the retailer to be able to offer customers a refillable planter. The grower produces the plants in a standard black 27cm pot that has a hole through the bottom and has water wicks attached. On despatch, the grower places the 27cm pot into the new patio pot. The wick sits in a water reservoir, keeping the plant watered for much longer and so increasing shelf life in store and also reducing reliance on the consumer to remember to water regularly. The pot is available in seven pastel colours.

Q: Is there anything new for garden designers to use in their schemes?

A: Each year companies such as Haddonstone bring new styles to the market but particularly exciting are the Orleans Bowl, a stylish planter adapted from the Fontainebleau Urn, and the Promenade Box. The latter provides a generous square planting area and is an elegant design to suit any landscape.

Incidentally, if you have projects that include kitchen gardens, you might also like to take a look at Haddonstone's Rhubarb Forcer. Traditional in appearance, the forcer is actually made from Haddonstone's TecLite material rather than terracotta. This means that it has a thin-wall construction so it is easier to move while also being frost-resistant. Fargro's position in the market enables it to offer a wide range of pots and containers to the landscape sector as well as to growers and retailers. Having seen a growing interest in containers being integrated into design work for both garden and interior projects, the company is offering Triangolo and Scudo collections to provide something different in shape and design when creating a focal point. New contemporary designs such as the Cassava and Saturn ranges are complemented to the more traditional look of the estate range of decorative plastic containers.

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