The nursery and ornamental sector produces a wide range of plant material; bedding, hardy shrubs, herbaceous perennials, trees and pot plants. The most up to dates technologies and equipment are used to grow high quality products to meet market demand, produced in increasingly shorter timescales. The farm gate value of the sector is estimated to be worth in excess of €40 million per annum. There is scope for import substitution and to increase supply to the substantial market in UK. Between the years 2007 and 2014 there had been much rationalisation of the market, with the top 5 producers in the sector making up 40% of the market. The main outlets for this sector are garden centres, DIY stores and there is increasing demand from the landscaping sector. Online retail sales are in their infancy but show annual increases.
Labour and distribution remain key costs in production systems, making efficient plant handling critical to profitable production. The use of IPM and biological control agents in protected growing environments is now well established. Due to withdrawal of plant protection products and the sustainable use directive growers continue to be challenged to keep weed, pest and disease control costs low while producing a competitive quality product.