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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
Morrison)

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 BobVila.com , 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 (groworganic.com) also offers a video on growing strawberries .




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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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