Plants grown in peat-free compost in the propagation department at RHS Garden WisleyIt is vital that we seek to change gardening practices to protect these precious ecosystems.

By the end of 2019 we will no longer sell peat-based compost. This requires us working with suppliers to enact this change. In the meantime, the majority of the composts we sell are peat-free and we have improved the information available to buyers at the point of sale about the impact of peat and its alternatives.

We also publish advice on our website about how you can create your own peat-free mixes for those plants, such as carnivorous plants, that have traditionally been grown in it.

While we can ensure the growing media that we sell in our retail outlets are peat free, as a charity, we are not able to confirm the long and complicated production cycle of the plants that we stock, being grown by third parties and in many cases originating abroad. However, we will continue to work with suppliers to explore how we can minimise or eradicate its use. This stands for our shows, although we already require that exhibitors and designers do not use peat in the mulching and dressing of beds.

Across the RHS’ five gardens we are peat-free except for a handful of rare and exotic plants important for industry and specialist growers where there is, as yet, no proven alternative.

The above highlights the need for industry to work together to find a sustainable growing media and why we are an active member of the Growing Media Initiative and the Project 4 Responsible Growing Media taskforce which are intended to promote the use of alternative products.

The RHS also continues to lead practical research into existing and new alternatives. This includes a decade-long organic matter experiment that found that peat-free products were as good as those containing it and a partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London looking at developing non-peat growing media for use by the industry. The outcome of this research will be shared with gardeners and the horticultural sector in order to provide a robust, evidence-based case for the use of peat alternatives.

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