Familiar herbaceous perennials have shown potential to be over-wintered to encourage flowering earlier in the season, without the use of any special equipment or techniques other than the application of heat, which could provide growers with a new marketing window.
Scabious, campanula and silene all have potential to be market-ready for early March, if grown under glass with some heat.
The trials have been conducted at the National Bedding and Pot Plant Centre, at Baginton Nurseries in Warwickshire.
Centre management group member Mike Smith from W D Smith & Son said: "As soon as the temperatures begin to warm up many people are itching to get into the gardens, yet most traditional summer bedding lines are still relatively tender. We often sell lines with the warnings of protecting from frost. The modern gardener doesn’t want to be worrying about fleecing plants, they want instant colour and want to plant it straight away.
"Garden centres are increasingly becoming days out with coffee shops and play areas, so we see customers all year round, they may not necessarily be filling their pots and containers, but if something is looking great, they can become impulse sales".
ADAS Horticulture consultant Jill England said: "The aim of the trials was to increase the range of products available for marketing in early spring as impulse purchases, using herbaceous perennials that don’t naturally flower at this time of year.
"We’re now working with the industry to see how we can further develop this work with other crops or through exploring new temperature regimes and different potting dates."
Growers are invited to attend the Bedding and Pot Plant Centre summer open day on 20 June 2017.