Gardening trends for 2020

Which plants, designs and activities will prove popular with the UK’s 27 million gardeners in 2020? RHS Chief Horticulturist Guy Barter has some predictions

Drawing on an abundance of knowledge from the horticultural experts at RHS gardens, retail centres, science and communities teams, here are my predictions for what the new year has in store for homes and gardens up and down the country.
As we enter a new decade, gardening takes on an ever more important role in helping us to create healthy and happy places to live. Houseplants will maintain their allure, while a greater appreciation of the role plants play in supporting the environment and local wildlife will see renewed interest in soil, the ‘naturalising’ of plots and food growing.

While many gardeners will celebrate the return of some old favourites there is much to be excited about in the way that we’ll all be growing in 2020.

Houseplants get supersized: As houseplants migrate from shelves and windowsills to more central locations in the home, buyers will increasingly seek larger, show-stopping varieties. These include Alocasia with its giant leaves and contrasting stems and Monstera with its deep green, patterned foliage. However, buying smaller 6-9cm plants and growing them on remains a popular pastime for many.
Soil steals the limelight: Gardeners will increasingly consider what their plant is grown in, turning to more sustainable growing media such as wood fibre and green waste compost, sowing cover crops to increase nutrient levels and quality, and adopting the ‘no dig’ philosophy to limit damage to soil structure and wildlife. New research showing the benefits of soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccea on the immune system could also see the welcome return of mud pies, helping to tempt younger people into the garden.
Going back to the 80s with nemesias and diascias: Eighties favourites nemesias and diascias will see something akin to a resurgence owing to their flexibility as a bedding, basket or container plant, compact size, long summer flowering period and sweet scent that attracts bees and butterflies. New breeding programmes that have resulted in a wider range of sensational colours such as the dark and mysterious Nemesia ‘Berries and Cream’, 'Aroma Rhubarb and Custard' and more delicate ‘Wisley Vanilla’ only add to their appeal.

A more natural aesthetic takes hold: An increasing awareness of biodiversity loss means gardeners will look for ways to support wildlife. This could include growing more and a greater variety of plants, accepting the presence of some damage and not being too tidy, for example, by leaving seedheads as shelter and food for visitors. Bee hotels, wildlife ponds, log piles, plants for pollinators and compost heaps will continue to increase in popularity. Clipped box and fine turf may well fall out of fashion as this more natural aesthetic takes hold and gardeners shun pesticide use to deal with problem areas and creatures such as box tree caterpillar.
Grow your own heats up: Food growing becomes an obvious route for many in helping to support the environment, by reducing plastic use and countering food miles, as well as building connections in more communal settings. Chillies remain a popular choice owing to their ease of growing, colour and varieties boasting names such as ‘Etna’ and ‘Meek and Mild’. Beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans and other legumes also become a staple of the vegetable plot, pushing out more traditional choices such as parsnips and calabrese.

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