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Supersized plants and soil science: RHS reveals gardening trends for 2020

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has today revealed what plants, designs and activities it expects to prove popular with the UK’s 27 million gardeners in 2020.

Drawing on the expertise of horticultural experts from its gardens, retail centres, science and communities teams, the charity has shortlisted what it thinks the new year has in store for our homes and gardens.
 
Houseplants are predicted to maintain their allure while a greater appreciation of the role plants play in supporting the environment and local wildlife sees renewed interest in soil, the ‘naturalising’ of plots and food growing.
 
Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturist at the RHS, says: “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. 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.”
 
2020 RHS Gardening Predictions:
 
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.
 
Back to the 80s with nemesia and diascias: Eighties favourites nemesia 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’ and more delicate ‘Wisley vanilla’ only add to their appeal.
A more natural aesthetic takes hold: An increasing awareness of the decline in wildlife means gardeners will look for ways to support them, 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 the number one choice owing to their ease of growing, colour and varieties boasting names such as ‘Etna’ and ‘Meek and Mild’. Beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, soya and other legumes also become a staple of the vegetable plot, pushing out more traditional choices such as parsnips and calabrese.
In 2018, the charity predicted the return of ferns in the home with RHS Retail going on to see a 96% increase in sales year-on-year. In January, RHS Garden Wisley will host the Giant Houseplant Takeover in its glasshouse.
 
For more gardening advice and inspirational events in 2020 visit www.rhs.org.uk.

Notes to editors

About the RHS:
The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.

The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2020. We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. For more information visit www.rhs.org.uk.

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.