Over the coming weeks and months, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the UK’s gardening charity, is more committed than ever to continue to help and support the nation to get gardening and grow a new generation of gardeners.
The RHS believes that there are thousands more people taking up gardening as it sees visits to some of its advice pages on rhs.org.uk increase almost as much as 500%.
With over 1 million visits to RHS gardening advice pages, there are hundreds of thousands more users looking for help from the RHS to grow plants and garden, compared to the same period last year.
My RHS log ins, where people can find jobs to do and RHS members can ask the RHS gardening questions had over 50,000 pageviews in the first 9 days of lock down (24 March – 1 April) – up by 450% last year.
To meet the growing thirst for more gardening knowledge, the RHS is launching ‘Grow at Home’ to share more exclusive advice for its members and promote additional ways and ideas to keep more and more people in the wider public gardening.
The number of RHS members using the personal Membership Advisory Service, online or by phone, has also grown, with a noticeable rise in first time enquirers and beginner gardeners, compared to the same time last year. New subjects hitting the top most questions asked included composting, sowing seeds outdoors and perennial dividing.
The key gardening activities people across the UK are researching online are composting, which is nearly 500% up on last year, how to manage moss on lawns is 40% up and nearly 500% more people compared to last year are looking at how to divide perennials. Sowing seeds outdoors follows closely behind with 40% more people researching how to do this.
The Nurseries pages, where people can use the nursery search to mail order plants was in the top 10 pages of site visits.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “Our overriding charitable remit is growing gardeners, which we do through sharing expert gardening advice, amassed over 200 years, to help and encourage everyone, from beginner to professional, to garden and grow plants.
“Over the coming weeks we will increase our video advice content and social media to help everyone, including this new generation of gardeners, to grow.
“We’ll also be doing more online and exclusively for our members who are the lifeblood at the very heart of our organisation and we are more grateful than ever for their support during this time.”
The appetite to grow food in these times of uncertainty continues to increase, with a third of a million people visiting RHS Grow Your Own pages advice for Grow Your Own jobs to do this month 316% up. Container growing vegetables is up 219%
The top three visited Grow Your Own pages since the start of lockdown, have been Potatoes, 191% up with 27.5k page views, followed by Tomatoes, 172% up and Strawberries, 70% up.
Sue continued: “In light of some reduced green waste collections, people are definitely more interested in composting, which is great for wildlife and the environment, not to mention producing garden compost, the best ‘soil improver’ there is. Dividing perennials is a great way to get free plants and keep beds and borders healthy.
“Gardening, and getting back to nature, is we know good for our health and wellbeing, especially our mental health, and so we will do all we can to provide advice and ideas for people to keep growing, whether this be in their garden, or balcony or window sill. We also have lots of advice on house plants and how to use your cut flowers indoors.
“Sowing seeds now, provides immense satisfaction and beauty for the future.
“Grow at Home is all about encouraging people where they can to stay home and garden.”
RHS ten top tips for April:
- Sow seeds, lettuce, carrots, leeks, wild flowers and garden annuals such as nigella and pot marigolds outdoors
- Sow tender plants, cosmos and zinnia for example and vegetables such as courgettes, melons, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash indoors to plant out in six weeks
- Plant artichokes, potatoes, onion sets and shallots before the middle of the month
- Propagate shrubs and climbers by layering, bending shoots to ground level, covering with soil and leaving until autumn when the shoot can be severed to make a new plant
- Take cuttings form new shoots, delphiniums, asters and chrysanthemums for example, as well as tender plants such as fuchsias and geraniums, to make new plants
- Pot up seedlings and divisions to help them grow into healthy robust plants
- Repot potted plants that have finished flowering such as camellia and those which are not yet growing – canna for example, to keep then m strong and healthy
- Support UK nurseries and search RHS find a plant, to buy plants from nurseries online. Now is the time to plant tender bulbs and tubers such as begonia, dahlia and gladioli, towards the end of the month in the north
- Weed Lawn as required, but leave some for wild flowers to grow if possible. Thicken thin lawns by ‘overseeding’, sprinkling on grass seed and raking to cover it
- Winkle out seeds now before their roots go deep or they set seed. Leave them as long as you can in wild areas to feed wildlife