Bedding growers will be looking for more concrete commitments from their customers next year following the March plant sales wipeout, says British Protected Ornamentals Association chairman Ian Riggs - but fear they might not get them.
Spring bedding growers lost most of their season because of cold weather, while garden centres saw plants and gardening sales plunge by half.
The NFU flagged the issue, which received national coverage earlier this month when growers were pictured dumping unsold spring bedding plants.
Alton Garden Centre owner Andy Bunker said plant sales are 50 per cent down this year. "Trade is slowly picking up but we've still got the hangover. We're doing buy-one-get-one-frees because there's been so much around, which works as a sort of loss leader to bring people in to the centre."
Riggs said: "If a retailer tells you to grow one million plants, you grow a million. There are varying degrees of responsibility being taken by retailers. The danger is after two bad weather years people might get out of the habit of buying plants.
"Next year, growers will look to but might not get more concrete commitments. To keep pushing it onto growers puts a strain on them." The NFU plans a grower-retailer supply chain meeting for early summer.
Quinton Edwards director Simon Quinton Smith said: "After last year's wet and this year's cold, this could prove difficult for a lot of businesses. It's not good news."
Grower RC Smith said he resorted to selling bedding at a car boot sale. Baginton Nurseries managing director Will Lamb said: "It has got markedly better with the weather. It's a difficult time."
Upturn in weather needed for season to get properly started
"Our key customer, Homebase, put a four-day half-price offer in store and agreed to delay main season stock by at least a week. We moved quite a bit of stock. We had no room for the main season plants, and now we've been able to shift the spring stock. It's supplier and retailer working together."
Ian Howard, sales director, Ornamental Plants
"We're continuing to throw plants out because we need more space. We've had huge wastage. It's looking like £100,000 worth of stock and that may be an understatement. At the back of the greenhouse we've got another £100,000 worth. You can't give it away. But if the weather perks up we'll be really busy."
Philip Sanders, sales manager, Blue Ribbon Plants