Our trickiest plants are cared for with peat-free materials

Close-up of Rhododendron 'Creek's Cross' flowering at Trengwainton

With more than 35 years’ experience of growing plants ‘peat-free’, our team at the Plant Conservation Centre has successfully switched to using peat-free materials to propagate botanically and culturally significant plants from original specimens growing within our gardens across the country.

Chris Trimmer, Nursery Manager at the Plant Conservation Centre, tells us about how he and his team garden peat-free. 

When I first started, we mixed our own potting compost by hand using a blend of coir, loam, leaf mould and potting grit, but it soon became difficult to keep up with the demand.

In 2004, whilst conducting compost trials with ADAS, a replacement was found that out-performed our own mix: Petersfield’s T 2 blend of fine grade bark, wood waste and loam. We’ve successfully been using this blend now for over 10 years for everything we grow from Acers to Zanthoxylum. 

All the plants we grow are ‘peat free’ from day one, using coir plugs for rooting cuttings, bio-degradable wood fibre pots for growing on and Air Pots for the final stages. With expert care, even ericaceous plants such as Rhododendron & Camelia are produced using the same blend. 

The service we provide can take more than a decade to successfully save a plant from extinction. We've shown how it's possible to protect precious peatland habitats whilst replenishing our gardens with treasures you’d expect to see on a visit to a National Trust garden.