One-third of UK plant growing firms say they fear going bust by the end of the year because of coronavirus, according to an industry survey.
Fewer than one in five growers has received help through the government’s business support measures, says the Horticultural Trades Association.
They face binning millions of plants and shrubs for lack of buyers.
The government aid package “does not work for the horticultural industry”, the HTA said.
With garden centres closed across the country because they are deemed “non-essential” shops, highly perishable plants cannot be offered for sale.
The HTA said garden centres should be allowed to reopen “as soon as possible” and the government should find a way to compensate growers.
“Current UK government support does not consider the total loss of annual income for growers, which is largely seasonal from March to June,” the HTA said.
“Meanwhile, over three-fifths of growers (62%) said that they were not eligible for business support grants, while nearly four in five (79%) growers are not entitled to any kind of rates relief.”
The HTA said just 1% of growers had received financial support from the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans scheme (CBILS).
It expressed concern that the sector was vulnerable to foreign competition.
“In the Netherlands, the government has announced a scheme to help its industry while at the same time leaving garden centres open, meaning that Dutch growers will be perfectly positioned to supply the UK market if the British sector collapses,” the HTA said.
Celebrity gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh backed the HTA’s call for government action, describing its findings as “shocking”.
He added: “If the government is unable to offer a compensation scheme on the lines of that already put in place by the Dutch government, and independent garden centres remain closed, then our beloved British garden industry is on the brink of destruction.
“The longer the delay continues, the more costly the solution.”