Gardeners must not be “snooty” about bedding plants and should fill plots with a riot of colour, telly gardener Alan Titchmarsh has said.

Alan said gardeners should not be ‘snooty’ about bedding

Former Ground Force host Alan told AG that gardeners will be forced to try different bedding plants this year, as retailers stop selling Busy Lizzies due to the downy mildew crisis.

“It’s time to look again at bedding begonias and cast aside our ancient prejudices of brown leaves and shocking-pink flowers,” Alan said.

“There is no need to be snooty about replacing busy Lizzies with French and African marigolds. They are damn good plants.

“At Waddesdon [the National Trust manor in Oxfordshire] they have sensational displays of African marigolds.

“Last year I planted a couple of hundred busy Lizzies in my garden and they were a damp squib within a fortnight – the mildew went through them like wildfire.

“So we’re all going to have to do without them this year. Besides, who wants to grow the same plant every year?” he asked.

Alan said he may look at alternatives on Love Your Garden, his ITV1 show that’s set to return this year.

The six episodes are being expanded to an hour each, while the format will be tweaked.

Busy Lizzies are under threat from a lethal strain of mildew

Alan explained: “I will still be visiting small gardens but there will be a big makeover in each programme.

“Last year I fixed small parts of gardens but now I will makeover a garden for someone who really deserves it.”

Mr T hinted that makeovers would make a comeback due to the economic climate: “When Ground Force and Changing Rooms first aired, the country was in recession. People were not moving house and were looking to improve what they’d got. That’s where we are now.”

Alan will finally let fans see his Hampshire home plot. His new book, My Secret Garden, is out this autumn looks back at the last five years in his garden.

He was speaking to launch his third year as ambassador of B&Q, which will spend £12million this year improving its gardening offering.