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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
- ‘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
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.