There may have been one bright spot among the gloom of 2020: The pandemic turned out to be great for horticulture. Experts estimate the industry gained 16-20 million new gardeners during the pandemic.
They’re predicting 85% of those gardeners will continue this year.
If that prediction holds true, experienced gardeners will be competing with new gardeners for seeds, plants, potting soil, mulch, tools, accessories and anything else that helps with planting and growing.
Last year seed catalogs, online retailers and garden shops couldn’t keep up with the overwhelming spring demand. More than a few had to shut down their online systems so they could catch up with orders.
Even though companies say they’re better prepared this year, gardeners should plan ahead and order their favorite varieties yesterday.
Backyard, front yard, patio and balcony food growing will continue to engage new and newer gardeners. Those who had some success last season will be anxious to expand their gardens; those who wished they would’ve started last season will get growing this year. They’ll be on the lookout for heirlooms and all kinds of organic options.
Some plants will sell out sooner than others because of special marketing and promotional programs. That’s especially true for the National Garden Bureau’s Plants of the Year for 2021.
Every year the national organization selects and promotes its Crops of the Year plants. The selections are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile, according to the NGB.
The 2021 Plants of the Year include:
Bulb crop: Hyacinths
Edible: Garden beans
Shrub: Hardy hibiscus
Plant Select has three new introductions for this year that include Drew’s Folly Hardy Snapdragon (Antirrhinum sempervirens), Hokubetsi (Helichrysum trilineatum) and Blanca Peak Rocky Mountain Beardtongue. The Plant Select website features a list of retailers that offer Plant Select plants so you can call ahead to check on availability.
Smaller garden varieties are part of All-America Selections winning plants this year. Goldilocks squash and Pot-a-peno peppers are meant for small-space gardens. The AAS’s Gold Medal winner is Profusion Red Yellow bicolor zinnia that’s sure to be in demand.
The Perennial Plant Association selected Calamintha nepta (calamint) as its Perennial Plant of the Year for 2021. A nice rock garden and border plant, tiny white flowers bloom on a bushy low mounding plant that attracts pollinators to the garden.
Houseplants will continue to be in demand to fill home offices and windowsills that have turned into miniature greenhouses. New offerings include plants that drape over pot edges and tiny plants for tiny places.
Pantone’s colors of the year will show up in plants, flower colors, pottery and other garden accessories. Look for combinations of Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray at big box stores, garden centers, the plant sections at grocery stores and wherever else gardening supplies are sold.
New gardeners will continue searching for resources, help and advice. CSU Extension master gardeners will need to be extra-creative when it comes to cultivating community from a distance, encouraging new gardeners to reach out for reliable information and finding ways to reduce the fear of failure for beginning gardeners.
If you have any gardening predictions for 2021, look into your crystal ball and add your forecast here.
By Jodi Torpey
CSU Extension master gardener since 2005
Image provided by Pixabay