Why peat-free is important
For decades, peat-based potting composts have been used to raise and grow-on plants. Blue Diamond share the concerns about the damage done to the environment, and some gardeners are now reaching for peat-free or reduced-peat products as an alternative.
Progress is continuous, and significant progress has been made in developing peat-free and peat-reduced alternative products for plants to grow and thrive, new products are coming onto the market all the time. Alternative materials such as composted bark, coir, wood fibre, and green waste can all play a role in developing growing media that replicates the properties of peat, an adequate supply of these is key.
Working with our grower supply base, we are committed to becoming peat-free before the 31st December 2026 deadline, but this will need to be done in a realistic and sustainable way. This relies on consumers accepting that the quality of peat-free media is of equal quality and reasonably priced.
We have offered peat-free alternatives for as long as we can remember, but consumer conversion has been weak, until now, it is improving. This is due to the fact manufacturers have improved the quality of peat-free growing media and lowered prices, which in turn has allowed us to offer very competitive peat-free multibuys to our customers, this in itself has not been an easy challenge for suppliers to surmount.
Blue Diamond Nurseries
Blue Diamond owns 6 nurseries, which grow and supply over 11 million plants exclusively for its 44 garden centres. Most of Blue Diamond's home-grown plants are growing in peat-free compost and we aim to eliminate peat usage entirely, on the nurseries by the end of 2025. Home-grown plants means more control in developing compost mixes and plant care techniques from nursery to our customers, as these are refined for the post-peat era. The 6 nursery sites are Bridgemere, in Cheshire; Badsey, Broome, Offenham, Westmancote and Worfied.
The Bridgemere nursery produces many of the Blue Diamond hardy plants and is entering a 3rd season growing with 100% peat-free compost. Worfield Nursery, a new addition to the Blue Diamond Production Nurseries, will be growing all new production in peat-free compost from January 2024. For 2024, our seasonal nurseries will grow all our vegetables, herbs, 1 litre and 2 litre pot bedding in 100% peat-free compost. The remainder of the seasonal plant production is grown in reduced peat, with the intention to be 100% peat-free by the end of 2026.
On the pots and labels on many of our plants, including our National Trust range of plants, it will say; "Growing in peat-free compost". This means that in the majority of cases, the plug plant was grown in a peat-free medium and then re-potted into a larger pot, in peat-free compost, thus making it 100% peat-free. However, in some cases, the plug plant is grown in a mix which includes a small element of peat, but is then grown on and potted in peat-free compost. This means that a very small percentage of peat makes up the overall percentage of the product.
Fryer's roses and National Trust roses
Our own brand of Fryer's roses, which includes our range of National Trust roses, is 100% peat-free.
British grown, peat-free houseplants
As Britain’s largest garden centre group, Blue Diamond is committed to developing best practice in environmental sustainability as well as responding to growing, eco-conscious customer demand. The company is therefore proud to be launching a new range of British houseplants in 2024 which are grown in a variety of tried and tested peat-free medium. Over the next year, this range will expand to over 200,000 British houseplants on sale throughout its 44 garden centres, representing a significant shift away from the current, predominantly Dutch-based supply.
Blue Diamond is leading the way on this initiative through its collaboration with The Horti House, a collective of growers committed to peat-free cultivation. Its founding partners are Double H nurseries and Bury Lane, two family businesses with a rich heritage of growing and sourcing plants. Double H has made the transition to peat free across all its production, specialising in British Orchids, green plants and indoor flowering plants. Bury Lane, meanwhile, brings its range of foliage plants such as ficus, calathea and monstera varieties. Rather than competing against each other for a share of the UK retail market, these nurseries are working in harmony, and with other growers, through the Horti House platform to complement each other’s strengths and produce a larger range with more depth. Blue Diamond has been keen to support this innovative approach, showcasing the best of British growers and their environmental credentials.
Peat-free media sales
In addition to committing to 2025 as our zero-peat target, we will aim to reduce our overall peat consumption year on year. Currently our total growing media sales consist of 90% peat-free materials and our goal for 2025 will be to increase this to 100%. We will be will achieving this by finding suitable replacements for the final three peat-based products within our range. In addition to our zero-peat commitment, we will be looking to introduce regional suppliers, which will allow us to reduce the amount delivery vehicles on the road and thus further reducing our carbon footprint.
We believe we are now at a tipping point, although consumers overwhelmingly desire and have bought peat-based growing media to date, now suppliers are producing peat-free products at a quality and at a price that will attract a consumer; progress to the desired aim of zero peat production will be more rapid.
Year-on-year sales of growing media
Our growing media core range consists of 37 different skus. Of the 37 available lines, 90% (34 lines) are completely peat-free, which has increased from 80% in 2023. Our Peat-Free and Reduced-Peat range offers a suitable alternative to every garden plant cultivation activity/need.
By looking at a sustainable supply in the volumes that are needed to satisfy customer demand on growing media, Blue Diamond are continuing to look at the feasibility of Anaerobic Digestate, British Wool & Straw based products, which will allow for a wider peat-free proposition.
Educating and supporting our team members and our customers to make the change to a peat-free, reduced peat & organic growing media for all their growing needs.