Gardening trends for 2020? Think unconventional and sustainable

Ask the Expert Gardening
Different varieties of Huecheras grow around a birdbath and a split-rail fence near Langley, Wash. Plants with red, purple, or black leaves are striking additions to any landscape, making them a popular plant trend for the upcoming 2020 gardening season. Dean Fosdick/Associated Press/File 2015

Gardeners in 2020 will veer from the beaten path, opting for unconventional varieties and eco-conscious surroundings, according to a plant trends study by horticulturalists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Their forecast is based largely on market observations and feedback from people seeking information from Extension offices.

Interest is strong for native plants, dwarf hybrids, “re-wilding’’ gardens, edible settings, wildlife-friendly landscapes, dark foliage, succulents, novel greens, landscaping for natural disasters, and softer, leafier floral arrangements, the horticulturists said.

“More and more folks are wanting to think about sustainability,’’ said Mark Tancig, a agent with the Florida institute who is based in Leon County.

“They’re wanting to plant things that don’t require as much water or fertilizer,’’ he said. “Plants that resist disease and insects. Plants that provide for wildlife use and need less maintenance and input. That not only saves money but it looks good, too. It’s restorative to the environment.’’

Breaking down the study’s trending top 10:

1. Native plants These plants original to a specific place generally are lower maintenance, requiring less water, pruning, and fertilizer.

2. Dwarf varieties Gardeners without a lot of living space increasingly are choosing the dwarf varieties of their favorite plants. They also require less pruning.

3. Re-wilding gardens To encourage beneficial insects and the health of your garden, allow shrubs to return to their natural shapes, let grass grow longer and permit a few weeds to flower, said Theresa Badurek, horticulture agent for Pinellas County. “Some of those volunteer weeds may be great wildflowers.’’

4. Edible settings Fruit-bearing plants, ornamental vegetables, and edible flowers do double duty, adding beauty as well as nutrition to the home landscape.

A dwarf hybrid blueberry plant grows in a container on a residential sidewalk near Langley, Wash. Growers without a lot of living space increasingly are choosing the dwarf varieties of their favorite plants. —Dean Fosdick/Associated Press/File 2015

5. Plants for wildlife “Most contemporary landscapes lack diversity, so gardeners should choose a variety of plants that flower and fruit,’’ Badurek said. Plants with berries attract birds, and layering plants of varying heights provides hiding places for other species.

6. Dark foliage Plants with red, purple, or black leaves are striking additions to any landscape, making them attractive to gardeners looking for something new in 2020, said Marguerite Beckford, a horticulture agent in Sarasota County.

7. Succulents People are reaching out for lesser-known succulents that offer interesting shapes, textures, and growth habits, the University of Florida horticulturists say.

8. Novel greens Vegetable gardeners will be looking to diversify their harvests with leafy greens generally grown outside the United States — bok choy, mizuna, and komatsuna among them, according to the horticulturists.

9. Landscaping for natural disasters “Storms are becoming more erratic and more feared,’’ Tancig said. “Plant the kinds of trees around your home that reduce risk.’’

10. Softer, leafier floral arrangements Flowers combined with foliage are gaining in popularity. “We are going away from the bundle bouquet of solitary flower blooms to the soft, organic feel of greenery,’’ said Karen Stauderman, an Extension horticulture agent for Volusia County.

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