Gardening trends for 2020? Think unconventional, sustainable

New plant-trends study sees gardeners veering off the beaten path

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 (UF/IFAS).

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 UF/IFAS agent based in Leon County.

Breaking down the study’s trending Top 10:

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

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

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

--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.

--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.

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

--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.

--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.”

--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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You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.net