Hey, Minnesota gardeners, if the prospect of another long, polar vortex winter has you thinking about what you can grow on your kitchen counter or in your basement, you’re not alone.
Year-round, indoor kitchen gardens are the hottest thing in gardening.
“House plants are still popular, but what is rising and trendy is growing food indoors — especially herbs and lettuces,” said Katie Dubow, creative director for the Pennsylvania-based Garden Media Group, which produces an annual garden report, “Grow 365.”
So many of us are placing a high value on health, wellness and clean living, she added, and growing our own produce year-round promotes all three.
Here’s a preview of the trends that will be influencing gardens — and showing up in garden centers — in the year ahead:
Peak season. Thanks to technology, you no longer need to be a seasoned gardener to produce food indoors. New, user-friendly hydroponic, aquaponic and grow-light systems make indoor gardening easier, and indoor gardeners more successful. Some systems are even automatic.
“You don’t have to have a green thumb, and you’re not battling Mother Nature,” said Dubow. “You have the ability to control lights, temperature and humidity by pressing a button.”
Even rookie gardeners have ready access to everything they need to succeed, from products to how-to information, she added. “YouTube is just a click away.”
Wellness hot spots. Healthy is the new wealthy, according to the report, as more of us realize and value the benefits of spending time in and with nature. “Forest bathing” is the new yoga, and workplace wellness, enhanced by gardens and indoor plants, is a coveted benefit, particularly among millennials.
“Plants make us happy,” said Dubow. With trees and the urban forest threatened by emerald ash borers and other pests, we’re also increasingly aware of the importance of trees and the benefits they provide, from “soundscaping” (buffering urban noise) to serving as nature’s sunscreen.
Tidy gardens. Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo (“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) is influencing more than our closets. Her less-is-more aesthetic is finding its way into our gardens, as well.
“Blame Marie,” said Dubow. Tidy gardens don’t mean neatly trimmed hedges, she added. They reflect a global shift toward reduced consumption and downsizing, as the population shifts from suburbs to cities, which often means gardening in smaller spaces.
Look for more dwarf plants with compact growing habits, and succulents, which create a clean, tidy look with little or no maintenance. Consider reducing garden clutter by creating one big “wow” container, rather than lots of little ones.
Clean gardening. Demand will continue for organic, locally sourced food, and products that are free of pesticides, antibiotics, preservatives and cages, including “clean” lawn and garden products that don’t expose family members, pets or the environment to unnecessary hazards and pollutants.
Uber-ization. The revolution in the service industry is spilling over into the garden, especially among younger gardeners who are already comfortable with this new model. “Millennials are service junkies,” said Dubow. Look for more garden subscription services, such as home-delivered seed or plant-of-the-month programs. Uber-izing is more than delivery service; it’s also about the experience. Gardeners who want to stay abreast of today’s trends and technology will also be subscribing to regular hands-on classes where they can learn about trending topics.
Buzz off! As the Zika virus spreads, home gardeners will seek better and natural ways to control mosquitoes, including bats, birds and mosquito-repelling plants. Adding a bathouse to your garden is a great mosquito repellent, according to Dubow. “A single bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects every hour,” she noted, plus they’re good nighttime pollinators. Or add birdhouses, feeders and habitat to attract mosquito-eating birds, such as barn swallows and purple martins. Some herb plants, such as basil, chives, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, lemon balm and thyme, also repel mosquitoes naturally.
Golden age. Gold is the metal of the moment. Gold-hued metallic materials and textures have been trending in home decor, and 2017 shows them melting into the outdoors as well. “Think of your garden as a room,” she said, and add gold accents just as you would accessorize an indoor space. Plants with golden foliage, such as Forever Goldie arborvitae, can warm and brighten garden palettes.
(To download the entire trend report, visit gardenmediagroup.com/trends)