Halting a horticultural crisis

children and horticulture

Created in partnership with others in the horticultural sector the Horticulture Matters report outlines steps the industry and Government should take to address the growing skills crisis in the sector.

Key priorities include:

  • Improving the perception of careers in the sector,
  • Supporting schools in the delivery of horticultural qualifications,
  • Working with Government to secure funding for plant-science research.

Speaking at the YoungHort conference in London, which was attended by 300 young horticulturists, RHS Director General Sue Biggs said: “As a sector, we want to share our passion for what I consider to be one of the most rewarding, important and life-affirming professions in the world, horticulture. And it is this love of horticulture and an understanding of the economic, scientific, cultural and social benefits it brings that brought the sector together to launch the Horticulture Matters campaign in order to highlight and address the growing crisis we face.

Horticulture contributes £9 billion to the UK economy every year and employs around 300,000 people across a variety of disciplines. However, 70% of businesses say that they struggle to find the skilled workers they require and 83% put this down to the poor perception of horticulture in schools and colleges."

“The horticulture sector has worked hard with Government, employers and educators to reverse a potentially terminal trend. We’ve made some significant advances, which are highlighted in our report, but we can’t rest on our laurels – there is much vital work that needs to be done.”

Pledges and promises

The report highlights the horticultural industry aims including:

  • Recruiting industry ambassadors
  • Delivering horticultural 'test drives' to schools and colleges
  • Promoting the GrowCareers website
  • Delivering GrowCareers days
  • Supporting horticulture and guidance for schools
  • Facilitating businesses to work with schools
  • Promoting apprenticeship opportunities
  • Encouraging more take-up of horticultural courses
  • Delivering a public information campaign regarding plant health
  • Notifying Government of emerging threats

Train at our world-class gardens

Apply for one of our full-time diplomas and rotate through all areas of one of our gardens, learning from horticulture experts as you get your hands dirty. Choose to specialise in a  specific group of plants as you shadow experts on our specialist horticulture placement. Improve our understanding of plant health as you work alongside our team of researchers - and so much more

Work-based training

RHS Campaign for School GardeningCampaign for School Gardening

The RHS is committed to sharing our love of horticulture with young people - through our Campaign for School Gardening, we have reached thousands of children in UK primary schools. Read more about the campaign and join in to receive support to develop a sustainable garden for young people’s learning, health and wellbeing.


Investment in post-graduate research

The RHS recognises the need to develop research skills in horticultural science and supports a number of post-graduate research projects in collaboration with universities across the UK and abroad.

The following table details some of the projects we currently support:

Title Collaborating organisations RHS Contact Start & Finish date
Do front garden landscapes influence health and well-being? University of Reading / University of Virginia / RHS Alistair Griffiths 2016–2019
Investigating the impact of plants on indoor air quality: a multi-scale cross-disciplinary approach University of Reading / RHS Tijana Blanuša 2016–2019
The accumulation of regional diversity in the Anthropocene: insects on plants University of York / Centre for Ecology & Hydrology / RHS Andrew Salisbury 2016–2020
Pathogen-induced changes in plant-insect interactions for crop and ornamental species in the genus Solanum University of Cambridge / RHS Gerard Clover 2016–2020
Urban Buzz: quantifying and enhancing the resources available to pollinators in urban landscapes University of Bristol / RHS Stephanie Bird 2017–2020
Benign enhancement of natural defences: BEYOND University of Sheffield / James Hutton Institute / RHS Matthew Cromey 2017–2020
Understanding the current status and protecting the future of the UK rose sector University of Newcastle / Fera Science Ltd / RHS Gerard Clover 2017–2020
Investigating the use of endophytes to induce resistance to honey fungus (Armillaria) University of Bristol / RHS Jassy Drakulic 2017–2020
The impact of climate change on UK garden plants – can we avoid a new Japanese knotweed? University of Reading / RHS John David 2017–2021
Slug and snail diversity in uk gardens University of Newcastle / CEH / RHS Hayley Jones 2018-2021

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