BEYOND LOCAL: Landscaping for disasters and unusual succulents among 2020 gardening trends

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Gardeners in 2020 will veer from the beaten path, opting for unconventional plant 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, “rewilding” 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.

“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.”

Here are the study’s top 10 trends:

Native plants

These plants, original to a specific place, are generally 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 favourite plants. These also require less pruning.

Rewilding 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.”

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 provide 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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