A technology revolution will change the way gardeners shop for plants and products.

Hi-tech barcodes, called ‘QR’ codes (quick response), are appearing on items from plant pots to fertiliser and compost.

Smartphone user Toby Buckland is putting QR codes on his Planting Powder

When shoppers scan the codes with a mobile phone, they are directed to websites or videos explaining how to use the product.

Editor of trade magazine Garden Retail, Matthew Appleby, said: “QR codes are increasingly available on plant labels and at places such as RHS Garden Wisley. They give consumers much-needed advice.

“Garden centre customers are often seen as elderly and not tech-savvy, but silver surfers and the younger grow-your-own generation are using the codes,” Matthew added.

Seed and young plant firm Thompson & Morgan said it was turning to QR codes.

T&M’s Vicky Ager said: “We introduced QR codes to our Kitchen Gardener and Fruit Catalogues in September as a test on products where we felt that customers, particularly beginner gardeners, could benefit from more information than we have room to include in our catalogues.

“The codes link to how-to-grow advice on raspberries and potatoes, and how to stop potato blight.

“We’ve seen an increase in customers viewing our website by smart phones and tablets.
It was a natural progression to test QR codes and we plan to do more,” Vicky explained.

AG’s Toby Buckland will shortly launch his own-brand of ‘Planting Powder’ (mycorrhizae). QR codes on packs will link to a web page. Toby said: “The link on the tub takes people to a film of me using it in the garden.

“Watching someone else is the best way to learn a new skill and in the film I explain how much to use and why it works,” Toby said.

“When out in the garden or on an allotment, few gardeners will have scales to measure out Planting Powder, but chances are they will have a phone in their pocket,” Toby added.

Garden firm Sinclair, which produces the New Horizon and Growing Success brands, has launched QR codes that take customers to short films by Gardeners’ Question Time’s Matthew Biggs.

The Horticultural Trades Association’s Andrew Maxted summed up: “QR codes provide information that gardeners are looking for on pests and diseases, new varieties and planting tips, for example.”