The Top 3 Gardening Trends for 2013

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In most parts of the country, winter is a time for gardeners to peruse seed catalogs, surf nursery websites and dream of spring until the weather permits more hands-on activities. If you can’t wait to break out the hoe and shovel and get your hands dirty, you’ll want to know what landscapers and garden designers predict as the hottest trends for 2013.

Whether your garden is an acre, or a few pots on your windowsill, there is something on the horizon to suit your gardening needs. Check out what these gardening experts had to say about emerging trends in 2013.

2013 gardening trends succulents container gardens colorful foliage

Trend #1 Grow Your Own

With the ever-increasing emphasis on healthy eating, organic produce and sustainable living, gardeners everywhere are trying their hand at producing their own fruits and vegetables. Stella Otto, the “Backyard Fruit Gardener”, says the trend is really taking off with younger gardeners.

“As the generation of mid 20s to early 30s grows up, they are coming full circle and embracing the roots of their post-hippie generation parents. They are returning to the homestead concept, but with a decidedly urban flair of their own. Many are digging into the urban homesteading and farming movement with the intent to become food self-sufficient and ecologically sustainable.”

Otto is particularly excited about growing unusual berries not commonly found in the supermarket, such as:

  • Yellow raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Lingonberries

Other less-common fruit suitable for the backyard gardener are blueberries, kiwi, grapes and currants. Of course, every gardener needs to choose varieties suitable to his or her own climate and lifestyle. Pablo Solomon, artist and designer, whose historic ranch home in Texas has been nominated for a land stewardship award, agrees, saying,

“Gardens will be more and more recognized as a symbol of independence, common sense, wholesome food for the family and of self-reliance--we are returning to the ‘Victory Garden’ popularity of WW2.”

He particularly favors heirloom varieties of vegetables, such as:

  • Brandywine tomato
  • Kentucky Wonder green bean
  • Lemon cucumber
  • Jimmy Nardello sweet pepper
  • Speckled Trout lettuce

Solomon predicts a fusion of edible and decorative landscaping, with attractive varieties of vegetables such as kale, lettuce and beans grown right in the flowerbed. An appreciation of the importance of soil, nontoxic, natural pest control, native species and water conservation are other trends he sees moving to the forefront as gardeners become more interested in organic, sustainable gardening techniques.

2013 gardening trends succulents container gardens colorful foliage

Trend #2 Color

Christopher Reynolds, of Reynolds-Sebastiani Design Services, sees a move towards softer foliage colors as a reaction to the variegated brights that have been so popular in recent years.

“Subtle contrast is a big trend. Foliage colors in the new millennium tended to have tons of variegation and contrast, using red, yellow, and white variegation for a carnival of colors. As a reaction to that, subtle contrast is popular. Pairing silver foliage with blue or wine red foliage is very hip.”

Some excellent plants with silvery foliage include:

  • Lamium
  • “Jack Frost” brunnera
  • Dusty miller
  • Rose campion
  • Russian sage
  • Sea holly

Reynolds also forecasts rising interest in succulents, as new, colorful varieties fill the nurseries. Not only are there brightly tinted varieties of aloe, euphorbia, echeveria and sedum available, but today’s busy gardeners “want plants they can forget to water.” Though succulents DO need some care, they are far less demanding than many other garden species.

Related: Common Types Of Succulents

2013 gardening trends succulents container gardens colorful foliage

Trend #3 Solutions for Space Limitations

Not every gardener has a big plot of land to work. Some have nothing more than a tiny backyard or even a balcony. Reynolds sees continued interest in vertical gardening as a way to work around the limitations of space. Not only does growing vertically reduce land use, but,

“Also the cooling effect of the plants protects buildings from UV radiation and make the buildings greener, literally and figuratively.”

Other gardeners are finding space by removing their water and maintenance-intensive lawns in favor of vegetable or ornamental gardens. If you want to get rid of your grass, but still like the look of a lawn, ask your local nursery about your area’s suitability for:

  • Perennial sedge
  • Moss
  • Clover
  • Creeping thyme
  • Dymondia

Related: Grass Lawn Alternatives

Gardeners limited to a balcony or small patio will be happy to find that as container gardening continues to surge in popularity, plant developers are obliging by breeding miniature versions of many garden favorites, including butterfly bush, agapanthus, Crape Myrtle, citrus and euryops.
For those who have no outdoor garden at all, Reynolds says,

“Aeriums are very popular for indoor gardening. We are seeing a lot of tabletop and hanging options that are great for folks with no outdoor space but the will to have green.”

An aerium is similar to a terrarium in that it is a garden under glass, but unlike a terrarium, an aerium includes plants that do not require soil to grow. Common aerium species are bromeliads in the tillandsia genus. Often called air plants, tillandsias absorb nutrients and water through their leaves, using roots only as anchors.

Gardening has always been one of the most popular hobbies in the country, but with increasing interest in frugal living, healthy eating and simple lifestyles, many gardeners are turning from the traditional interest in roses or annual flowers to edibles, easy plants and small-scale greenery. Take advantage of one or all of these trends in 2013.


A special thanks to Christopher Reynolds, Pablo Solomon and Stella Otto for their contributions.

Last Updated: January 24, 2013
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening and home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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