With gardening riding the crest of a wave during the pandemic and sales of plants and seeds going through the roof, Candide asked leading green-fingered experts to gaze into a crystal ball and predict the gardening trends that will be hot in 2021.
Houseplant sales at garden centres rose by 33 per cent in January, 81 per cent in July and 48 per cent in October 2020, according to the Garden Centre Association. Indoor plant expert Anne Swithinbank, a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time, described the resurgence as “heart-warming”, adding: “Plant-lovers in flats are flexing their green fingers by growing ‘green pets’ without annoying their landlords. Their presence is calming and owning a collection of plants opens up a world of social media opportunities.”
Anne added: “Stars of 2021 could be Peperomias, as they are collectable and behave like leafy succulents. Epiphytic cacti such as Rhipsalis and Epiphyllums are great for hanging baskets. Anything that grows itself out of all recognition will be popular. Think Golden Polypody (Phlebodium aureum) which starts off as a modest fern but develops amazing rhizomes, and neat Ladder Ferns (Nephrolepis) which morph into crazy plants with metre-long fronds. Orchids are ripe for more attention but maybe not the ubiquitous Moth Orchid.”
Broadcaster Peter Seabrook, a gardening editor of The Sun, said strong autumn demand for in-flower Pansies, Primulas, Violas, small Cyclamen and Poinsettias has prompted growers to increase the production of spring and summer-flowering plants for 2021.
Peter explained: “Spring-flowering bulbs sold out earlier than usual and so Hyacinths, Narcissus and Tulips will be adding to this kaleidoscope of flowering. New-season seed orders with mail-order companies indicate that demand for popular edibles, including Beetroot, Peppers and Tomatoes, is well up on previous years. Prices for garden furniture imported from the Far East are set to rise with the cost of shipping having doubled in recent months. The strong colour for 2021 will be yellow and orange, due to interest in Sunflowers and vegetatively propagated Rudbeckia .”
Grow-your-own expert Rob Smith, winner of BBC TV contest The Big Allotment Challenge, predicts that more ornamental edibles will come onto the market in 2021; perfect for gardeners with limited space and those who crave potager-style gardens.
Rob explained: “I’ve seen people willing to experiment more and have a go at growing things for fun, not just for food. Luffa are a great example of this with ‘the Luffa challenge’ becoming a thing on social media. The fact that most people think Luffa come from the sea, it really blows their minds when you tell them you can grow it like a cucumber in the greenhouse and that you can actually eat the young fruit like courgettes! Fruit is also big; not only tree fruit but soft fruit, especially patio-sized berries and thornless varieties which make picking easy.”
Rob’s comments were echoed by Simon Caney, editor of best-selling weekly gardening magazine, Garden News, who said gardeners were becoming “more adventurous”. Simon added: “Gardeners want to try new things – especially grow-your-own. Less common varieties of fruit and veg will be grown and we may see more greenhouses go up as people try to extend the gardening year. New gardeners are environmentally conscious so expect peat-free to be high on the agenda, along with fewer plastics and more pollinator-friendly plants.”
Director of Organic Horticulture at Garden Organic, Don Murray, said eco-friendly gardening would be big: “2020 showed how important the environment, biodiversity and sustainability are, and now gardeners want to know how to play their part in their own patches. Sustainable plant sourcing, home-made compost, organic seeds and peat-free will top the agenda.”
Chair of the Growing Media Association, Neil Bragg, said demand “exceeded supplies of various ingredients” for compost in 2020. Neil predicted: “In 2021 there will be more peat-free on offer. By March there will be clearer point-of-sale information to give a responsibility score to compost and list ingredients in the bag. This will be followed in 2022 with such labelling on all packaging.”