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gardening trends

Gardening Trends Taking Off in 2020

Be a trendsetter by embracing these new gardening ideas, including mushrooms, grains, and double-duty plants

When the National Garden Bureau picked lavender as its perennial plant of 2020, it was hard to determine whether the organization was actually looking back or looking forward. Lavender has been a timeless favorite for centuries, but it’s suddenly becoming new again because of the beautiful color of its flowers. In September 2019, the Garden Media Group (GMG) declared indigo, a color similar to lavender, the trending color of 2020. This year, you may spot other similarly blue- and purple-colored plants like salvias, hydrangeas, and blue false indigo, and foliage plants with bluish leaves like sedums. Beyond color, what other trends are on the rise this year? Keep an eye on these: 

1. Build Healthy Soils 

Soil is our second most valuable resource, right after water. Soil is a fragile living system and needs a lot of TLC. In fact, building healthier soils is at the core of the regenerative gardening trend because soil is such a crucial factor in plant health. The topsoil-building method is to go organic with soil amendments, fertilizers, and pest control. Regenerative gardening takes it a step further with no tilling, more composting, and growing cover crops as green manure. 

2. Grow Your Own Grains 

Ancient grains continue to rise in popularity, so why not grow your own? Cereal grains, such as rye, wheat, barley, oats, rice, corn, millet, spelt, amaranth, quinoa, and sorghum are easy to grow in gardens. Books, including “Gardening with Grains,” by Brie Arthur, and regional workshops, such as those offered by the Artisan Grain Collaborative, can help gardeners learn about planting, growing, harvesting, threshing, winnowing, hulling, and baking with home-grown grains. 

3. Think Right Plant, Right Place 

Plant programs provide reliable recommendations to help gardeners avoid the trial and error of deciding what to plant where. Programs like the National Garden Bureau and other national and regional plant programs evaluate and introduce “best of the best” plants each year, like All-America Selections winners. Along with lavender, the National Garden Bureau added lantana, iris, corn, and hydrangea to its 2020 “Plants of the Year” list. Using the recommendations of reputable organizations that trial plants is a smart way to garden. 

4. Use Smart Gardening 

Speaking of smart gardening, in 2020, the use of technology to improve planting, growing, and harvesting will continue to increase. Sensors, drones, and robots are part of the move toward precision agriculture. And for home gardeners, smartphone apps offer expert advice, gardening tips, and plant, weed, and insect identification. With apps like Garden Answers, users can submit images of plants and have them identified. Another app, iScape, uses augmented reality to map out landscaping designs. 

5. Have Fun with Fungi 

Mushrooms are another major 2020 trend identified by the GMG, and with good reason. The fungi represent a billion-dollar industry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and greater interest in plant-based diets has sprouted a mainstream appreciation for mushrooms. They’re praised as a low-calorie, fat-free, and nutritious source of vitamins and minerals. Other uses for mushrooms include cleaning toxic chemicals from soil and water; some varieties can even eat plastic. Gourmet varieties, such as shiitake, can be grown in bags of sawdust and soybean hulls or on inoculated logs, proving just how versatile and adaptable mushrooms can be. 

6. Put the Garden to Work 

Garden design is trending toward plants that serve double duty in the landscape, according to newsletter Garden Design. Instead of planting an ordinary ornamental shrub, gardeners plant blueberry or raspberry bushes that render pints of fruit. Evergreens planted on a house’s north or northwest side can act as a windbreak and help with cooling, and a rose climbing an arbor near the patio offers shade and attracts beneficial insects. In addition, drought tolerant groundcovers can serve as a living mulch and replace lawns to conserve water. 

7. Grow Fruit Indoors 

The passion for houseplants is evolving to include different kinds of plants, and dwarf citrus trees are in the spotlight, according to Southern Living magazine. With their shiny green leaves and fragrant flowers, potted citrus trees make beautiful additions to home decor. When carefully tended, dwarf citrus trees will grow to just a few feet tall when planted in a right-sized container and placed in a sunny southern-facing window, and produce delicious clementines, tangerines, lemons, or kumquats. 

8. Plant Trees Everywhere

Every tree contributes to property values, storm water remediation, energy savings, carbon benefits, and air quality. And Science magazine supports planting more trees as a way to help combat climate change. All areas of the country can benefit from a denser tree canopy, especially cities.