Garden trends for 2020 are about sustainability

With California now officially experiencing another drought, water-wise gardening is more important than ever before. PHOTO COURTESY VISIT CALIFORNIA
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A plant trends study by horticulturalists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences revealed gardeners nationwide, as well as the Santa Clarita Valley, will be looking for new and unconventional plant varieties, as well as a new found emphasis on sustainability in 2020. 

Among the hottest trends

Dwarf hybrids

Dwarf hybrids require less pruning and less space. Popular dwarf hybrids include varieties of peaches, apples, plums, apricots and cherries. However, it is important to choose varieties that do well in our relatively mild winters. Purchase your dwarf hybrids locally for the best results. Local garden centers are familiar with which plants grow most successfully in the SCV’s unique microclimate. 

There is only one true dwarf variety of avocado tree. It is known as Wurtz or by the nickname “Little Cado,” and is a hybrid of Guatemalan and Mexican varieties.

Edible gardens

Consider adding fruit-bearing plants, ornamental vegetables and edible flowers to your landscape. In addition, not all edibles need be for humans, for example plants with berries can attract birds.

Edible flowers include pansies, carnations, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, roses and marigolds. 

Everyone can grow food of some kind, you don’t need a sprawling back yard or acreage to grow fresh food. Container gardens of tomatoes and greens on a balcony can be a good way to unleash your inner “farmer.” 

The easiest vegetables to grow in the SCV are tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, green onions, radishes and beans.

Another option to consider is straw-bale gardening. This garden option is gaining in popularity.  As the straw begins to break down, it turns into a rich, compostable planter that’s ideal for growing vegetables, much easier than trying to coax veggies from the SCV’s heavy clay soil. 

Dark foliage

Many gardeners want to stand out with unique and different plants to replace cookie-cutter suburban home gardens. One trend is the idea of including plants with red, purple or black leaves. These striking plants can include purple cultivars of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum). Dark plants are most noticeable in full sun, so plant them accordingly. 

Unusual succulents 

Water-wise gardening is continuing to gain in popularity, especially throughout the southwest. However, gardeners are increasingly looking for lesser-known succulents that offer interesting shapes, textures and growth habits. Succulents are also perfect for small-space gardening, on a balcony, patio or that unused “side” yard. 

With California now officially experiencing another drought, water-wise gardening is more important than ever before.

One suggestion is Aeonium tabuliforme, or dinner plate aeonium, which grows round and flat and makes a wonderful container plant. Bishop’s cap (Astrophytum myriostigma) is perfect for walkways because it has no thorns and Copiapoa tenuissima is a beautiful succulent, suitable for any garden. 

For more information on succulents visit OASIS Water Efficient Gardens in Escondido, www.oasis-plants.com.

Landscape for a changing climate

In Southern California fire-proof landscape education has taken on new importance with the recent spate of wildfires. If you haven’t taken down that huge Mexican palm tree growing next to your home, the one that turns into a blazing roman candle during a brushfire, now is the time. If you won’t cut it down, at least keep it trimmed. 

Other tips: on’t plant ornamental grass or high-resin plants — junipers, conifers or evergreens — close to your house, choose low-growing plants with a high moisture content that makes them less flammable.

Attract butterflies and bees

Butterfly gardens have been a “thing” for a while. Now bee gardens are getting a lot of buzz. To attract butterflies and bees plant bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, hosta, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod.

Wilder gardens

Highly manicured lawns and gardens are a thing of the past. Longer lawns and wilder, more natural-looking gardens are gaining in popularity. Experts suggest these changes will encourage beneficial insects and improve the health of your garden.

Instead of trimming or pruning shrubs, allow them to grow to their natural shapes. In addition, allowing a few weeds to flower is no longer a gardening taboo.

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