A daffodil shortage has seen gardeners scrambling to get hold of bulbs after the first lockdown saw a renewed interest in horticulture.

Surging demand and an ungenerous harvest have caused retailers and suppliers to sell out of bulbs, rosemary seeds, and other ‘grow-your-own’ greenery, months earlier than normal.

The gardening trade has reported between 2.5 and 3.5 million new gardeners in the UK since the first lockdown was introduced in March.

Byron Lewis, the owner of the Lichfield Garden Centre in Staffordshire, is among the business owners to find themselves with nothing left to sell.

"Because people are spending more time at home, they want to keep the colour going and get planting more bulbs ready for next spring,” he said.

“With people worrying about the shops being closed again, people did buy a lot more this year, and a lot earlier on.”

Retailers expect a similar situation as late as next spring with at least some level of restrictions likely to still apply.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Janson Lotery, director of the World’s End Nursery in Chelsea, said the business ran out of seeds for the first time since it opened shortly before the first lockdown, and Mr Lotery said it has “been playing catch up ever since”.

“It’s been a funny old year. No one’s been spending a lot of money but it’s lovely to be selling lots of herbs and pretty colours so adults and kids can do that together.”

Ben Haggitt, plant area manager at Kentish Town’s Boma Garden Centre, cited specific difficulties among his British growers after the hot, dry conditions of April and May.

“This year suppliers reported their booked supplies sold out quickly and the reserved stocks were soon gone as well, leading to unfulfilled demand,” said Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society.

“This has applied to plants, bulbs, seeds, and sundries since March. Potting media was also in short supply – the ingredients have to be prepared in advance often from foreign sources, and ramping up production at short notice is difficult.

“The surge in demand has stressed suppliers and so did the period when garden centres were required to be closed. Although many attempted to switch to delivery services, there were understandable difficulties in pivoting their businesses at short notice.”

Mr Barter added that shortages were compounded by dispatch problems after some packing staff were forced to self-isolate and factories introduced costly Covid compliance measures.