Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said 'seasonal plants' with instant-buy appeal covered a much broader range than they used to, This could be seen as including echinachea, dahlia, hydrangea, gallardia, salvia, hebe, lavender, lupins, festuca and even roses.
He said retailers should accompany growers on trips to shows when looking for plants.
Plants for Europe's Graham Spencer said retailers had to take more notice of new plants as they became available so they could capitalise on publicity around their launches.
Ferndale Garden Centre's Neil Grant said Aldi, Sainsbury, Ikea and Next threatened garden centre plant sales unless garden centres can show their expertise. He said selling plant collections rather than plants as "tins of beans" was the way forward.
He said growers needed to work more with retailers on growing what customers want.
Gardenworks' Kevin Waters said 'cultivated collections' was what garden centres should be selling rather than A-Zs.
David Denny and Boyd Douglas Davies presented Eyetracker research from Hilltop Garden Centre, which identified how consumers shop using a head camera.
Conclusions to help sales included moving point of sale behind plants and removing hoses from plantareas.
See more in Horticulture Week next week.