Drought-tolerant plants eyed by growers

Nurseries look for plants to cope with dry conditions as they assess the future impact on sales.

Bedding growers are beginning to opt for more droughttolerant species as a result of the dry conditions in parts of the country.

Following hosepipe bans being announced by a number of water companies, growers are considering switching to plants that cope better with dry conditions.

Roundstone Nurseries managing director Peter Cook said the nursery was already including more drought-tolerant varieties in its range. "We will be trying to communicate that to our customers," he said.

"We are growing plants such as begonias and geraniums, which do better in dry conditions than things like impatiens. We are not growing impatiens anyway this year because of the downy mildew issue and we are substituting more volume in drought-tolerant plants, which hopefully will help.

He added: "It is very much wait and see. The last time there was a hosepipe ban we saw a dip in sales but nothing material."

Colour Gro company director David Beadsmore said: "I'm not sure whether the drought is having an effect at the moment but all the talk in the press is bound to be having an impact.

"We will have to change our product range accordingly if there are consistent changes in the weather. We just have to monitor the situation."

Baginton Nurseries managing director Will Lamb said the drought had led to the loss of some contracts. "Some contractors that deal with local councils ordered hanging baskets and bedding and cancelled them, which is a bit of a blow. Severn Trent Water has not issued a hosepipe ban, but the drought is having an indirect effect."

He added: "We are led by our market and we didn't know about the drought back in September and October when we decided what we were growing. But it's something we'll be thinking about for next year. This time we're growing the same range as last year."

Conservation move - Compost additive

Baginton Nurseries is implementing improvements to its water conservation and storage systems, including introducing water management compost additive Celcote across all its products.

The product is supplied pre-mixed in its compost from William Sinclair Horticulture. The grower also has plans for rainwater harvesting.

Managing director Will Lamb said: "We are being careful with water and Celcote has been a benefit."

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