Speaking during a debate on supply-chain issues at last week's HTA Garden Futures conference at Kensington Roof Gardens, London, Hewitt said they could not afford to be complacent about planterias: "I am often disappointed by plant quality, the way stock is looked after and over/understocking. There are variable standards, particularly as we say we're experts."
Conference panel member Geoff Caesar, chief executive of Bransford Webbs, said: "We do see that happening and it ends up being a concern. But it is up to us as growers to do something - it's our product."
Caesar pointed to his company's Campaign Plants competition, in which retailers win champagne for the best displays. He said the contest has helped raise standards, as has the HTA's plant of the month scheme.
Hewitt added: "I feel passionate about the plant side and I am shocked by poor standards in planterias. A plant deteriorates unless you look after it. As an industry, we need to work harder to make our standards the best."
Giving a positive example of garden centre practice, Garden Centre Group chief executive Nicholas Marshall said the planteria is the garden centre's unique selling point. He highlighted a promotion in June and July of David Austin roses, which had sold 24,000 compared with just 7,000 in 2008.
Marshall added: "Our ground is garden centres and the best bit is the planteria where DIYs can't attack us because they don't have the space or anything else."
- See retail news, p11.