'We believe this move will make it more affordable for people to green their gardens', director general says.
The RHS has launched a petition calling for VAT on all ornamental plants and seeds to be reduced from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent, bringing them in line with other 'green' goods identified by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"We believe this move will make it more affordable for people to 'green up' their gardens, participate in safeguarding their local environment and help to combat the effects of climate change," the RHS said.
Under the current tax laws, all ornamental plants and seeds are classified as standard-rated items (17.5 per cent).
Speaking from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the campaign was launched, Inga Grimsey, RHS director general, said: "Gardens are the way to connect people to the environment, but there is little Government incentive to encourage more people to green up what is on their door step. Research shows that people on lower incomes are less likely to use their gardens.
"It is an anomaly that the Government makes 'green' provisions for building materials but not for plants. Having a garden is seen as a luxury, rather than fundamental to our lives, and what could be more essential to a sustainable future than investing in plants and trees?"
If the RHS is successful in its petition, the plant-buying public will save £175 million a year, the RHS said.
Inga Grimsey added: "If every person was given the means to plant up their garden, window box or patio tubs, just imagine what could be achieved. Unless more people are encouraged to grow plants, the Britain that was once known as a nation of gardeners faces the likelihood of a bleak, brown future."