Autumn bedding could run out early this season, with sales up 20 per cent on 2012. This suggests outdoor plant sales could top 2012 despite a freezing spring filled with rejected orders.
Young Plants managing director Alex Newey said: "Sales have been strong. We don't have any availability and are turning orders down daily. I also think local authorities have been late to order, which has impacted heavily on trade surpluses. Sales are up by more than 20 per cent on 2012."
Delamore Young Plants marketing coordinator Adam Parry says polyanthus and pansies have been in much greater demand than in the wet autumn of 2012 and that stock "is on its way to running out - a lot of stock is already ordered; we've had massive demand".
Parry says the big uplift in August has followed hot weather, making summer bedding in gardens go over. Garden centre footfall has remained high into August.
Some growers are producing less after a tough 2012/early 2013 and are resisting any price increases.
Hemel Hempstead-based Bryants Nurseries director Richard Bryant said: "The cyclamen market is fairly buoyant this autumn. There's demand from gardeners who didn't plant earlier in the year."
Bryants is growing 100,000 9cm and 10cm plants this year to sell at the same price as 2012, when it grew 130,000. Bryant added: "Because this spring has been difficult, we didn't want to jeopardise sales on price."
WD Smith director Mike Smith said: "Garden centres have cleared summer product out quicker than they expected and need to fill the shelves. We're chasing flowers at the moment."
Arden Lea office administrator Sarah Fairhurst said sales are good for the 40,000 cyclamen it is growing.
A Dobbies representative said: "We've witnessed people grabbing the opportunity to get their garden autumn-ready by planting up some instant autumn colour. There is strong demand for bedding plants, which can be planted easily."
But Kernock Park Plants business development manager Mark Taylor said herbaceous perennial sales had strengthened because garden centres wanted to buy plants that would last all year rather than seasonal stock.
He said the plant trade has been buoyant through July and August.
Garden Centre Association figures show July outdoor plant sales were up by 22.6 per cent.
British Protected Ornamentals Association chairman Ian Riggs said the market could end up five per cent above 2012 this year, despite a poor start.
Bedding supply chain - Rejected orders
Bryants Nurseries director Richard Bryant said it was "extremely difficult to judge where next week's sales were coming from". He added: "If the weather's not there, we don't want to enforce contracts or push retailers to take the stock."
WD Smith director Mike Smith said: "Having some kind of agreement before growing is the right way to go about it. It's not fair if all the risk is on the grower. It would be great if there was some kind of agreement and it stood up in court if anything went wrong. But if someone doesn't grow it, someone else will."