Garden Trends

12 Gardening Trends for 2021


What do I see in my crystal ball in the home gardening world for 2021? On this first day of the New Year, let’s take a lot.

  1. Gardening Will Be Huge

It grew by leaps and bounds in 2020 (see yesterday’s blog for more information on that subject). There is no sign it is even starting to decline. Everyone is gardening (and that’s only a slight exaggeration). I predict yet another banner year for home gardening in 2021.

2. Gardeners Will Shop More Online

Shipping plants in boxes
Plants delivered directly to your door: how wonderful! Photo: Territorial Seed Company

Shopping online, already a major trend in other fields for a few years, exploded with the COVID-19 confinement. The theory was that, if you can’t go out to shop, you can order online. However, even when the stores reopened, shopping online actually increased and then increased again as confinement began setting in again with the approach of Christmas. US consumers bought 29% of their retail goods online in April, but 36% when stores were open again in late May. The statistics aren’t yet in for the 4th quarter of 2020, but most online stores are already reporting record sales.

Gardening supplies are easy enough to order online and seed sales online went through the roof in 2021. Lagging behind are online plant purchases, but as consumers get used to online shopping and realize you can ship a plant just as easily as a vase and perhaps even more so, that will pick up too.

3. Houseplants Will Remain Hot

Houseplants in a home office
Houseplants are everywhere, especially in home officies. Photo:

They were terribly trendy in 2020, boosted by the COVID-19 crisis, long periods of confinement and increased remote working. People want and need greenery in their environment and are discovering that houseplants are an easy way of getting it. Maybe we’ll start calling houseplants “home office plants,” as that is certainly one way they’re being used. And when you have that Zoom meeting, you’ll want to show you’re in on the trend by putting a houseplant or two in the background. You may be in your underwear from the waist down, but you’ll have that plant on view!

4. Parks and Gardens Will Be More Popular

Parks and gardens were once places you mostly went to on weekends or after work. Not any more. Not as many people are locked up in office buildings and factories for hours on end these days. With telecommuting, you don’t have to take that coffee break in the cafeteria: going outdoors, for a stroll a nearby park or to sit on a bench and breathe in some fresh air, will be big. Suddenly, there are yoga and Pilates classes, even dance lessons, outside in city parks and more and more people participate. Being outdoors is good for you and wouldn’t you rather be in a park or garden than standing on a sidewalk surrounded by concrete buildings? 

5. More New Gardeners

The 16 million new people who joined the gardening world in 2020 will be influencing their friends and family. They showed off their homegrown veggies and offered their surpluses to neighbors who are already more than a little jealous of the great, fresh, wholesome food that seemed to grow so easily next door. Many of them too will give gardening a try in 2020. 

6. Gardeners Become Influencers

Two women gardeners standing in front of a camera.
You might be the latest garden influencer! Photo:

Social influencers, often linked to pop culture, food and clothing, have been a trend for years now, but if you have garden experience, expect that you too may be seen as an influencer. People notice what you do and will be after you for information. Start a web site, offer consultations: there may well be a new and very different career in it for you. Edible-garden influencers have seen up to 400% growth on their channels and are being inundated with questions. That could be you!

7. Food Gardening Remains Ever So Trendy

raised bed of vegetables
Grow your own veggies: it’s just so trendy! Photo: The Home Depot

It’s the Victory Garden effect again (see yesterday’s blog): confinement, worries of food shortages due to COVID-19 border closures and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from supplying your own food are pushing people to want to grow their own veggies, herbs and fruits. Recent news that there will be major price increases in fresh produce in the coming year will also boost interest in growing your own food for economic reasons. 

8. Reducing Lawns

There is also a return to the backyard. It’s more and more the personal paradise of the owner, a place where you can have a confinement staycation … but a backyard is no longer just about lawns. According to a recent survey by the National Garden Bureau, 67% of respondents 35 and under may want some green lawn, but they also hope to see the rest of their yard planted with a wide variety of other plants: food plants, pollinator plants, native plants, flowers, etc. Creating a wildlife habitat for birds, bees and butterflies is seen as more desirable than a vast green space of mown lawn that, frankly, supports little life.

9. Mini-Plants Are Trending

‘Micro Tom’ mini-tomato plant in a pot
‘Micro Tom’ tomato. Photo: World Tomato Society

More people are gardening, true, but they don’t necessarily have huge yards to garden in. So, smaller but productive plants will be gaining ground. Here are some suggestions from Garden Media Group:

  • ‘Micro Tom’ tomato (the world’s tiniest tomato plant) 
  • Mini bell peppers 
  • ‘Dwarf Yellow Crookneck’ squash 
  • ‘Romeo’ and ‘Short Stuff’ carrots 
  • ‘Baby Ball’ beets 
  • Cucamelon
  • ‘Windowbox’ mini basil 
  • ‘Striped Guadeloupe’ eggplant 
  • ‘Hearts of Gold’ cantaloupe 
  • ‘Tom Thumb’ peas 
  • ‘Crunchkin’ pumpkins 
  • ‘Mini White’ cucumbers 
  • Sprouts and microgreens.

Mini-houseplants, too, are very trendy. You can now buy a miniature orchid for the cost of two cinnamon dolce lattes at Starbucks. And miniature succulents are so cute. And neither will take up much space on a corner of your desk. Miniature houseplants also fit easily under the currently ever-so-popular LED grow lights and some adapt wonderfully into even all but the smallest terrariums.

10. Container Gardening 

Container gardens on a deck
You can grow any plant in a container. Photo:

A trend carried over from previous years, but getting stronger all the time, what with condominium and apartment dwellers, ever more numerous, having no in-ground space to grow in. But even suburban homeowners, who have plenty of growing space (or will soon, as they cut back on lawns), are putting containers everywhere: decks, stoops, stairways, etc. Container gardening gives you the freedom to garden where you want to … and don’t we all need to feel a bit of freedom in our lives right now? Plus, containers that can move indoors and out are great for those exotic fruits (kumquats, dwarf avocados, bonsai olive trees, etc.) that are so in style these days. 

11. Instant Result Plants

As you may have guessed, this is closely linked with the horde of new gardeners moving into the market. They want instant results. Flowers need to be already in bloom when they buy them; herbs and vegetables, ideally, already producing the fruit and leaves they can harvest. Even berried shrubs, that old-fashioned gardeners like myself used to plant young and watch grow for a few years before even thinking of harvesting, are now being sold in larger containers and in full fruit. Even seed-grown plants need to be up and in production mode tout de suite. Patience is a virtue most gardeners only learn over time, so with so many new gardeners joining the league of home gardeners, expect to see lots of ready-to-harvest edible plants and heavy-blooming flowers in nurseries this spring. 

12. Going Green

The new wave of gardeners also wants solutions to gardening problems, but they want green solutions. Preferably home-made remedies, at that. After all, gardens these days are not just man-made structures you pop plants into, they’re “environments,” with living insects, birds and animals to consider. Organic is one way to express this, but just “green” often does the job. One or the other on a label can certainly boost interest … and sales.

Two smiling gardeners

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

13 comments on “12 Gardening Trends for 2021

  1. The Resourceful Gardener

    Fab post. I have grown seeds with grow lights because I couldn’t go to the garden centre. I wonder if seed germination and propagation will be a trend.

  2. It all seems accurate; but the last few annoy me.
    I never liked mini plants, even if they are more practical for many situations. I installed a dwarf apricot tree, and still have not taken to actually ‘liking’ it. It is just as productive as a normal apricot tree maintained at that size, but it just too . . . weird.
    Container gardening is great for those who lack garden space, but is overrated for those with plenty of space to grow things in the ground. That has always annoyed me in regard to those who move to the Santa Clara Valley, and insist that the soil (which is of excellent quality) is no good. Also, container gardening has more potential for problems than gardening in the ground.
    Instant results? Gardening is not like that. Florists sell cut flowers that are already blooming or about to bloom. It takes time and effort to grow those same flowers in our own gardens. Plants that provide instant results are mostly forced unnaturally, and are likely temporary.
    Going green is something that should have always been popular. I mean, it never should have been unpopular. It has been gaining popularity for years, and it is great that it will become even more popular. However, it is something that can be capitalized on, by means that are contrary to green gardening. For example, the illustration depicts people planting dianthus, presumably in an environmental responsible manner. Perhaps they will use environmentally responsible products to control whatever disease or pests infest it. However, if they were really going green, they would not be planting something that grew in plastic containers and consumed so many unnatural products while it was growing in the production nursery. The best way to go green is to no grow much more than is necessary. Bedding plants would be the first to be on the outs.

    • True on most of your comments, but… I think some of those are clearly trending. Time will tell if they last or if, especially, new gardeners go on to become serious ones who really learn how to grow plants.

      • Oh, they are all trending. That is obvious. Most trends are good and justifiable. Even mini plants are a ‘good’ trend. I just dislike trends, and how some of them are exploited in a manner that is contrary to the purpose they should serve. For example, the popularity of living Christmas trees as a more environmentally responsible option to cut trees is just weird. No one seems to be aware of all the copious resources, such as plastics, pesticides and fertilizers, that are consumed by the production of living Christmas trees, or that they are exotic species that, if planted, are more likely to interfere with an established ecosystem than contribute to it.

      • I totally agree on living Christmas trees. I’d be interested in hearing what percentage are even still alive the following spring. I’d guess less than 5%.

      • There are several factors involved. In the urban part of our region, perhaps slightly more than 5% get planted into urban back yards, because most people who live in urban situations do not venture from them. Unfortunately, some of such trees survive long enough to get detrimentally big, and are then very expensive to remove. People think that they will stay as cute and innocent small trees, so plant them right off the back porch, typically right next to the foundation. Italian stone pines and Canary Island pines are almost never installed into landscapes as such. They are not even available from nurseries as nursery stock. (I had to special order some from Southern California a few years ago.) Therefore, EVERY problematic Italian stone pine and Canary Island pine that I encountered in home gardens was formerly a live Christmas tree. Clients invariable tell me so when I inspect them. Although such trees are less than the original 5% that get planted (and in the big picture, are not very many), they are numerous enough to annoy me that they are even available as live Christmas trees. A few years ago, I noticed that Trader Joe’s was selling them with flashy labels that informed those who acquired them that they grow into big trees. In the less urban part of our region, many more get planted into forested areas, perhaps 10%. However, without irrigation, almost all die the following summer. Their roots are just too confined, and they have too much foliage. There is a house in town that had about six Italian stone pines around the perimeter of the backyard, but because it is such a big back yard of a corner lot, with frontage on a road on one side, the trees are working out nicely so far.

  3. Hopeful times! Most lawns are environmental disasters I am delighted that the trend is to reduce the!

  4. nancy marie allen

    Yes, I so hope gardening becomes more popular than ever in 2021. After all, gardeners are such wonderful folks to hang out with!

  5. That is an interesting consideration. But there is something to it. All my good friends already grow a few tillandsias just like me. I wish you a beautiful whole year.

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