Pentland Plants

Pentland Plants Family Picture

The Spray family have been growers since just after the First World War when Joseph Spray started a market garden in Leamington Spa.

His son Bob studied at Writtle College and worked at Kew Gardens before joining the local authority at Southend and afterwards moving to Kirkcaldy to manage their parks department. In 1957, he then started his own business in Bonnyrigg growing Tomatoes and cut flower Chrysanthemums and his wife Irene had florist shops throughout the Lothians.

Their son David and wife Hilda joined the company in the 60’s and it expanded to grow shrubs, bedding plants and a small retail shop. Bedding plants became the big thing in the early 80’s and they travelled all over the USA learning from the growers at the cutting edge of bedding plant plug production. They are now one of the largest producers in the UK.

Pentland Plants Ltd is a family owned business specialising in the production of various formats of bedding, basket and perennial plants.  All plants are sown or rooted in the UK and grown onsite by their experienced team. 

Their daughter Carolyn now manages the garden centre and Richard their son runs Pentland Biomass which offers biomass wood fuel.

Pentland Plants

It is a little known fact that Pentland were one of the first nurseries in the UK to grow the now ubiquitous Poinsettia. 

Poinsettias are part of the Euphorbia family and known as Euphorbia Pulcherrima. Joel Robert Poinsett introduced the plant to the US in 1928. He was a botanist, physician and the first US ambassador to Mexico. 

In its native Mexico they are a wild plant growing up to 3m and the coloured parts are not actually flowers but modified bracts or leaves. The actual flowers are the yellow cyathia in the centre and when it is in full flower you can see the bottle brush flower covered in pollen. We treat them with growth retardant and pinch them to keep them compact.

Pentland Plants Poinsettias

In the early 60’s, David Spray’s father Bob read about them in an American journal and had some sent across from Florida. In those days we bought in dry woody plants which we coaxed back to life to produce cuttings. Now of course we import soft green cuttings from Kenya as air travel has made the world a much smaller place so anywhere is just a day away. 

The cuttings arrive in July and are potted into various sizes of pots in a very special open compost with lots of food and trace elements included. They are pinched to produce side shoots and spaced out regularly to give a good all round shape. They are grown in a warm, bright, draught free glasshouse and watered and fed until they change colour in November. 

There are many colours available such as whites, pinks, variegated and burgundy so they can be kept well after Christmas as a normal houseplant!