Climate Change to bring Tropical Look to UK Gardens

New research shows that a third of the nation (30%) claim to be excellent when it comes to gardening, but climate change could be making it more of a challenge for us to keep our plants thriving due to fluctuations in temperatures.

The study, from UK polytunnel manufacturer, Premier Polytunnels, examined the plants we love to grow at home (and in allotments) and how global warming may impact the varieties of plants we will be able grow going forward.

Met Office data shows that the UK’s average annual temperatures have increased by around 3.9% since 2015, with some months showing an average temperature increase of almost fifty per cent (49%) when comparing 2015 and 2020.

Not only this, but with temperatures estimated to increase a further 1.5 degrees in the UK by 2050, our gardens may look a little different in the years to come.

Experts advise that waterlogged gardens caused by excessive rainfalls, combined with the harsh conditions brought about by the droughts of British summertime, both pose a challenging terrain for plants in equal measure.

The UK’s average annual rainfall across the winter months has increased by a substantial 11.3%, from 429mm in 2000, to 470.4mm in 2020.

Although it is believed that many of the plants and vegetation are learning to adapt to the changing conditions, there are some quite noticeable changes.

Citrus fruits, figs, grapevines and even palm trees are becoming a more common feature in British gardens, flourishing in recent years due to the change in weather conditions.

In more unusual cases, bananas trees were found to be growing in both the Northern city of Stockport and in areas of the South of England, albeit not always bearing edible fruits.

Jack Wallington, landscape designer, conservationist and gardening writer, shared some further insight as to the affect that climate change might have on our gardens; “Global warming and climate change is having a noticeable impact on plants we grow in the UK.

“Our winters are wetter with more rainfall, combined with warmer temperatures leading to less snow and frost. Soil remains waterlogged rather than freezing over which leads to more plants rotting or drowning, as well as increased flooding particularly in northern parts of the country.

“At the other end of the stick, summers are hotter with extended periods with no rain making gardening increasingly difficult in south eastern areas.

“Dahlias were traditionally dug up in winter to store indoors but with soil temperatures increasing, in many areas of the UK there is no point as they can now survive – and thrive – outside. Many warm climate fruits are performing better too, including figs and peaches.”

While these changes point to a more tropical outlook for UK gardens in the future, avid gardeners still favour traditional plants over tropical varieties. The top plants grown in 2020 in UK gardens, yards and even in pots on balconies, were tomatoes (49%), roses (42%) and daffodils (39%) all of which thrive in typical British weather.  

Whilst chamomile (4%), zinnias (5%), grape vines (7%), cornflowers (10%) and allium (12%) rounded up the less-favoured plant list amongst UK growers. 

The top 10 plants grown by green-fingered Brits in 2020 were:

  1. Tomatoes (49%)
  2. Roses (42%)
  3. Daffodils (39%)
  4. Mint (36%)
  5. Strawberries (33%)
  6. Potatoes (32%)
  7. Fuchsias (31%)
  8. Tulips (31%)
  9. Sunflowers (30%)
  10. Rosemary (25%)

Despite their green fingered attempts, almost ten per cent (7%) of UK adults currently fail to keep their garden plants alive, and a further 63% stated it very much depended on the type of plant as to whether it will survive their care.

Deborah Wood, Company Director for Premier Polytunnels commented on the findings:

“It’s so encouraging to see the popular varieties of plants being grown in gardens across the UK, as gardening can help us to feel calm, especially in such turbulent times.

“Whilst the substantial changes brought about by climate change are certainly becoming more and more noticeable, by learning to adapt – as our plants have done – we can provide an environment in which a wider variety of plants can flourish and thrive.

“We recommend spending time doing some research and introducing structures such as an orangery, greenhouse or polytunnel (if you have the space), which can provide shelter and a more stable environment for your plants to blossom.”


Premier Polytunnels is a family run business with more than 30 years’ experience in the design and development of polytunnels.

Premier Polytunnels use their expertise to bring you a stronger, more reliable polytunnel – the quality and materials of a ‘Premier’ polytunnel cannot be matched.

But this company does not just offer quality products at great prices – it also prides itself on offering a ‘Premier’ service, including after sales support. A construction helpline is available, together with a collection of online videos.

A polytunnel is a great growing investment and dealing with Premier Polytunnels ensures your experience will be a great one.

All of our polytunnelsfruit cagessheep houses and cloches are manufactured in-house by a highly skilled and experienced team, with all of our products regularly updated and tested on site. 

At Premier Polytunnels we are constantly looking to improve our designs to give you the best possible product. Our latest model was originally launched in 2009, updated in 2011 and 2013, and once again updated for 2016.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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