Q. What trends in gardening/landscaping are you seeing for 2021?
A. It appears it will take awhile for things to return to normal.
I would expect demand for seeds, plants and garden products to continue to be high as folks prepare for the spring gardening season. Many seed companies are already running out of inventory for 2021, especially organic seed which is in high demand. Order now to lock in your seed orders. Prices will only go higher as spring approaches. Many companies offer the choice of seed or transplants of vegetables at reasonable prices for the moment.
Many younger gardeners have taken up gardening as a way to save money and grow nutritious food for themselves and their families. These younger gardeners are especially interested in sustainable gardens that integrate vegetable gardens, cooking areas, entertainment and relaxation areas, along with areas for children to play – all in one place.
There is a continued emphasis on permaculture methods that integrate landscapes as a whole, with organic pest control, companion planting, planting of native plant communities in front yards and park strips and developing communities of gardeners to share resources.
The use of raised beds made of alternative materials such as galvanized metal is growing in popularity.
Growing fruit as a part of the landscape and garden is also a growing trend.
More individuals are growing and purchasing houseplants – in part because they make a nice backdrop for Zoom calls and conferences as many people are still working from home.
Garden blogging and virtual education seminars are very popular and will continue to be popular. Gardeners often use social media to post gardening questions. The issue is that sometimes “experts” can give incorrect or partial answers that may not be research-based.
New perennial plant introductions are heavy on native plants – though native plant purists' frown on improved native varieties – often called ecovars. Many new annual flower varieties have focused on heat and drought resistance. Interest in plants that attract pollinators is huge.
I would encourage folks to continue to use mass plantings of perennials to reduce lawn areas. Use least-toxic pesticides to control pests and disease and build soil health by using compost and Canadian sphagnum peat moss as soil additives. Continue to use fallen leaves as soil builders and mulch.
There was a trend toward using “real” Christmas trees this past season because people were nostalgic for the past and they were more likely to better care for a real tree when spending more time at home.
After the holidays, the tinsel should be removed and the tree placed in the backyard for a shelter for birds. Adding a popcorn strand will help provide food for the birds. The tree can also be chopped up and the residue can be added to the compost bin, and the needles can be used for mulch.
All in all, the trend in gardening practices leans toward a more sustainable approach to co-exist with nature.
The Plant Medic, written by Ricky Kemery, appears every other Tuesday. Kemery retired as the extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County Purdue Extension Service. To send him a question, email email@example.com.