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What's trendy in gardening this year? Gardening itself

Expect just as much interest in plants during 2021, with some refinements

Plant with one red strawberry
Strawberries as trendy? That's one prediction for this growing year. (Photo: Kathy

Hey, we're trendy! But that's no surprise, is it?  We've all been in the thick of it, trying to find the seeds we want or the fruit trees we envision, jumping onto new online sites for our favorite plant sales -- with curbside pickup! -- and sharing soil and amendment sources.

Most of us are still at home more than we were in 2019, thanks to the coronavirus, and we want to build on what we tried last year.

Mostly out of curiosity, I took a spin through several online sites that featured "garden trends for 2021." Not too many surprises for anyone who's been paying attention, but in general, they include:

Houseplants will be more popular. (Yes, they're great backgrounds for Zoom meetings.) Succulents remain hot, with tropicals right behind. Urban gardening continues to grow, as folks with only balconies or patios find ways to add plants. This goes along with more container gardening in general, and raised beds, too. And of course, vegetables and other edibles are big, big, big.

More interesting notes:

Better Homes and Gardens cites real numbers for last year's gardening explosion. Gardeners in the United States went from 42 million people to 63 million in 2020 -- a 50 percent increase. Suppliers just weren't ready for that boom, which is why seeds and transplants and fertilizers were so hard to find last spring. But companies will be better prepared this year. BHG quotes Bonnie Plants CEO Mike Sutterer as expecting at least 80 percent of those 21 million newbies to continue this year.

Another intriguing stat from that story: A majority of the new gardeners were men 35 and younger. Since home gardening tends to be dominated by women, especially among younger people -- it evens out among retirees, I've noticed -- that could mean the trend away from growing merely ornamental annual flowers will speed up.

For , writer Mark Wolfe talked trends with Katie Dubow, president of Garden Media Group. Among her observations: Gardening space is a hot selling point for homebuyers. (Sacramento says, "No kidding!") Creating a habitat, rather than merely a collection of plants, is getting more attention. And experienced gardeners, with more time available, are taking on more ambitious projects.

Of course California gardeners, because we can grow for so much of the year, and grow so many things, have been ahead of many trends going national. These include planting for pollinators, sustainable gardening, removing lawns in favor of edibles or low-water plants, and using environmentally safe products in our gardens. SummerWinds Nursery , which has outlets in the South Bay, notes these trends, and also predicts that newbie gardeners who jumped into vegetables last year will add fruiting plants this year: Strawberries and patio-size fruit trees are likely to get snapped up quickly.

If you've wanted to try growing strawberries, check out this guide on choosing a variety in the California GardenWeb (I'd add the Albion variety to that list) and this planting and pest-management guide from UC Integrated Pest Management. Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply ( also offers a video on growing strawberries .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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