With record-breaking summer heat, worsening droughts, and constant reminders of climate catastrophes, it’s easy to get down about the state of the global ecosystem. Fortunately, this next year of gardening brings an abundance of hope! As sustainable gardening and renewable energy go mainstream and youth become especially interested in eco-initiatives, there are a lot of plant positivity and inspiring gardening trends to embrace.
Eco-optimism is the theme of this year’s Garden Media 2024 Trends Report. From unique tech advances and digital plant ordering systems to goth-inspired gardens, living tapestries, and neon foliage, you don’t want to miss out on these 13 gardening trends to make 2024 your best growing season yet!
13 Exciting Gardening Trends for 2024
Garden trends are a perfect way to match your style, interests, and botanical selections with global sustainability trends. The goal is to unite plant lovers and set the stage for contemporary green living and landscape design. These unique concepts and ideas will help you create a garden that wows your neighbors and grows excitement for the future.
Quality Over Quantity
Millennials and Gen Z embrace sustainable products, reducing environmental impact.
Finally, cheap consumerism is out of style! The most exciting garden trend for the Earth is switching to durable, long-lasting products that hold up in the garden. Surveys reveal that millennials and Gen Zers are willing to pay more and wait longer for sustainable products. Investing in quality garden tools and supplies can reduce the waste in landfills and your overall carbon footprint.
For example, we designed Epic 6-Cell Seed Starting Trays to replace the flimsy single-use plastics often used in seedling production. We wanted to create seed-starting trays that will withstand dozens of seasons of use. These rigid cell trays are so unbreakable that our founder even laid them on the ground and stepped on them, yet they held strong!
Better yet, they are made in the USA from UV-treated and BPA-free recycled plastic. The air pruning slots on the side encourage “root pruning,” which means the plant roots stop growing when they reach the planter’s edge. This prevents root circling and binding for healthier transplants.
More ways to jump on the sustainable durability trend include:
- Avoiding single-use plastic garden supplies
- Reducing the number of plants you start indoors by experimenting with direct sowing
- Purchasing quality tools with strong handles that won’t break
- Investing in quality raised beds that will last for 20+ years in the garden
- Using a Garden Oya watering system to reduce plastic and save water
- Practicing “dry farming” or xeriscaping to reduce the use of irrigation supplies altogether
Drought Tolerant Plants
Rising droughts drive demand for trendy drought-tolerant plants, expanding to various climates and natives.
Speaking of droughts, they are becoming more frequent as summers get hotter and more intense. Drought-tolerant plants have been important for a long time, but they are especially trendy now, thanks to a widespread obsession with succulents and cacti.
Fortunately, these arid-climate plants are no longer reserved only for tropical gardens or indoor containers. In many climates, you can plant temperate succulents (many hardy to zone 5) in rock gardens that can stand against intense summer droughts.
Great plant choices include:
- Hardy sedum (stonecrop) species
- Hardy Opuntia
- Sempervivum species (hen and chicks)
- Some Agave species
- Delosperma species (ice plants)
Another great way to build a drought-proof garden is to plant native species. Native plants have been trending for several years, and native plant nurseries are growing in popularity.
This is great news for birds, butterflies, and bees that rely on wild indigenous plants for their life cycles. Remember that native plants are specifically adapted to certain regions, so you should search for species that are native to your part of the country.
Some of my favorite drought-tolerant native plants include:
- Black-eyed Susan
- Blue false indigo
- Butterfly weed
- Common sunflower
- Purple coneflower
- Fragrant sumac
Combat eco-anxiety by taking small actions, like mindful nature time and gardening.
People feel a lot of stress and bleakness about the state of our beautiful planet. Unfortunately, this has become so common that the American Psychology Association (APA) termed it “eco-anxiety,” or the chronic fear of environmental cataclysm and intense concern for future generations.
Luckily, the quickest and easiest way to combat eco-anxiety is to take action, even on the smallest scale. Activities that instill hope for environmental restoration help protect the plants while improving mental health. This is especially important for younger generations, who may be constantly bombarded with saddening news and statistics about nature’s destruction.
Here are some actionable ideas to replace eco-anxiety with eco-optimism:
- Spend more mindful time in nature. Pay attention to all five senses and be as present as possible.
- Join a community garden or gardening club to connect with like-minded plant lovers.
- Turn off technology and phones while in the garden.
- Calm your nervous system with meditation and walks around your yard or a botanical garden.
- Avoid overloading your mind with excessive “bad news,” and focus on positive steps forward.
Infuse sci-fi fun into your garden with futuristic plants like dragon plants and orchids.
Futuristic plantings are a fun and bright way to bring sci-fi fun into your garden. The Philadelphia Flower Show set the stage with The Garden Electric, a stunning and colorful spark of floral excitement merged with futuristic hope. Instead of seeing modern advancements as bleak and hopeless, we can imagine homes, gardens, towns, and cities lit up with vibrant plant life!
Bring this futuristic vibe to your garden with fascinating plants that infuse a sci-fi vibe, such as:
- Bizarre dragon plants (Dracunculus vulgaris)
- Alien-like pitcher plants (Saracennia)
- Rough horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) plants, which are considered living fossils
- Oriental poppies with their otherworldly seed pods left in place
- Striking slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum sukhakulii) with their strange veined labellums
- Sci-fi closed ecosystem terrariums with mini ivy, orchids, Peperomia, Fittonia, and tiny ferns
Ordering Plants Online
Ordering plants online is now trendy and convenient, with faster, reasonably priced shipping options available.
After so many years of growing plants from seed or finding them at a local nursery, it may seem strange to order plants online. However, new advancements have made plant shipping faster and more reasonably priced.
Companies now offer a unique online marketplace where you can buy and sell a wide range of plant species. This allows local nurseries to contact new plant parents across the country. If you are seeking rare or unusual specimens, ordering online may be the trendy and convenient way to go.
Survivalist gardens address food shortages and climate uncertainty, promoting self-sufficiency with essential crops.
With threats like food shortages in grocery stores and climate uncertainty, survivalist gardens are an emerging trend rooted in practicality. By prioritizing essential foods, you can ensure a sustainable source of fresh produce even in challenging times or emergencies.
You don’t have to be apocalyptic to be prepared! The best place to start is with your kitchen’s staples, like potatoes, roots, greens, onions, squash, herbs, and fruit trees. Start by stocking your seed bank with as many basic, easy-to-grow varieties as possible. Prioritize storage crops like carrots, alliums, winter squash, and nutrient-rich greens with a quick turnover. If you don’t already have one, consider building a small greenhouse or a root storage room to enhance your self-sufficiency. For a great guide to getting started on your own homestead, check out Epic founder Kevin Espiritu’s new book, Epic Homesteading: Your Guide to Self-Sufficiency on a Modern, High-Tech Backyard Homestead.
Survivalist gardens are also a fun trend for kids to engage with. You can challenge them to think creatively about the few tools and foods they need to survive on a deserted island. In the process, they may realize how many of their favorite snacks are processed foods. You could work together to grow crops that you can use to make homemade versions instead!
Embrace the trend of otherworldly plants with species like lunar begonias and carnivorous plants.
Unusual “alien” plants are particularly stylish thanks to their new-age appeal. Like the sci-fi gardens, otherworldly plantings focus on silver-hued or star-flecked leaves and weirdly shaped flowers and fruits. You can grow an outer-space-inspired garden indoors or out, using species like:
- ‘Sterling Moon’ Lunar Light Begonias
- Dragon lily (Dracunculus vulgaris)
- Carnivorous plants like Drosera and Venus flytraps
- Lithops (pebble plants, aka “living stones”)
- Jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)
- Creepy doll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda)
- Darth Vader plant (Aristolochia salvadorensis)
These eerie and sometimes creepy plants are a delight to grow and observe. Though many look like they came from other planets, it’s exciting to know they are actually from our beautiful, diverse Earth!
Neon Neon Neon!
Cyber lime, the horticultural color of 2024, dominates gardens with neon foliage trends.
Cyber lime is the color of the year in the horticultural world! Bright, bold, neon-hued plant foliage will take center stage in 2024 gardens and indoor plant displays. With the ever-popular grass wall and neon sign trend, it only makes sense to incorporate more neon-colored leaves.
Pair neon plants with dark green foliage to create a striking contrast.
Popular neon houseplants include:
- ‘Golden Violin’ philodendron
- ‘Lemon Lime’ philodendron
- ‘Selloum Golden’ philodendron
- ‘Limelight’ dracaena
- ‘Neon’ pothos
- ‘Lime Soda’ syngonium
- Pink nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis)
- Coleus spp.
For outdoor gardens, here is an intriguing array of electric-hued flowers and perennials:
- ‘Delta Pro Neon’ violets
- ‘Neon Nites’ cineraria
- ‘Miniature Neon’ amaryllis
- ‘Blue Bird’ or ‘Azurri Satin’ hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii)
- ‘Green Spice’ heuchera
- ‘Lemon Lime’ hosta
- Euphorbia spp.
- Primula x Polyanthus ‘Green Lace’
- Joseph’s coat (Amaranthus tricolor)
Invoke the goth gardening trend with deep purple flowers for a mysterious, dark-hued garden.
Although no natural flowers can technically be completely black, deep purple hues are usually enough to trick the human eye. Blackish-hued flowers have been popular for a while, but this trend is reemerging under the guise of goth gardening!
Gothic-style gardens typically include a lot of mysterious dark-hued blooms and foliage grouped in the same area. Despite their dark color, most of these plants still require partial to full sun.
Avoid growing a goth garden in the shade because the reduced amount of chlorophyll due to the blackened hue means plants will have difficulty photosynthesizing. Also, keep in mind that many dark-colored flowers still have green leaves.
Our favorite gothic flowers include:
- ‘Queen of the Night’ tulip
- ‘Black Magic’ viola
- ‘Black Prince’ snapdragon
- Black bat flower (Tacca chantrieri)
- ‘Blood Red’ sunflower
- ‘Black Peony’ poppy
- Black Cherry’ Floribunda rose
- Hellebores ‘Pine Knots Select Strain’
- ‘Chocolate’ cosmos
- ‘Black Velvet’ petunia
- ‘Before the Storm Iris’ (my personal favorite!)
For dark-colored foliage backdrops, don’t forget to add:
- ‘Colorblaze Dark Star’ coleus
- ‘Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Purple’ sweet potato vine
- Black mondo grass
- ‘Black Coral’ elephant ear
- ‘Mystic Dreamer’ dahlia
Deadwood and Dead Flowers
Shift to natural, eco-friendly gardens with less pruning, benefiting wildlife and simplifying maintenance.
Manicured, heavily pruned gardens are out, and eco-friendly, natural aesthetics are in! This is great news for local wildlife and makes your garden maintenance much easier. Leaving deadwood and dead flowers creates space for valuable insects, beetles, beneficial bats, and native birds to nest and overwinter.
For example, a fallen birch tree may create a home for hundreds of critters while making your yard feel more like a native forest. Leaving dead flower heads provides winter interest and seeds for birds to feast on. These passive techniques don’t have to look ugly or unkempt and can even help your garden stay prettier by attracting beneficial predators that keep insect pests at bay.
Small Space Planters
Urban gardening thrives in small spaces; balcony gardens can easily host diverse plants.
Just because you live in an apartment or a city doesn’t mean you can’t garden. Growing plants in urban areas is more important than ever because those areas are where most people live and where botanical life is most needed! Small-space gardening may seem intimidating, but seeing how much diversity you can incorporate into a patio or a small yard can be exciting.
My very first garden was on a 5’ x 10’ apartment balcony where I fit in over 80 species of lush, thriving plants! I had herb planters lining every part of the railing, tomatoes trellising up the side of the building, grow bags full of peppers and greens, and hanging planters loaded with flowers and strawberries!
Modern innovations in container gardening and trellis systems make small space growing more accessible than ever. Plus, there are countless dwarf vegetable and fruit varieties designed to grow compactly.
If you don’t have much yard space yet and still want to grow plants, I highly recommend reading Grow Bag Gardening or Field Guide to Urban Gardening to kickstart your mini garden!
Draping Vines and Living Tapestries
Opt for low-maintenance living tapestries by training vigorous vines on flat surfaces indoors or outdoors.
Living walls have been around for a while, but they require a lot of infrastructure and maintenance. What about living tapestries? This method of trellising and draping vines across flat surfaces creates a gorgeous backdrop to any room, office, or exterior wall.
You can grow vining plants like pothos and philodendron in pots on the floor or in big hanging baskets, then train the vines upward using tacks, twine, or even velcro.
The best vines for living tapestries are ultra-vigorous and lush. Be sure to plant them in full sunlight so they grow lots of leaves to fill the gaps without becoming leggy. Flowering vines are especially exciting because they create a wall of colorful blooms to keep buildings cool in the summer and fill your garden with vibrant colors.
Some great outdoor options include:
- Trumpet vine
- Virginia creeper
- Star jasmine
- Cypress vine
- Morning glory
- Scarlet runner beans
Urban Tree Planting Initiatives
Cities embrace tree planting for eco-resilience, catalyzing positive action and fostering community bonds.
Trees have always been trendy in my eyes, but cities are finally catching the buzz! Did you know Seattle recently implemented an ordinance project to plant 88,000 trees across the city?
Urban tree planting initiatives are a positive way to catalyze positive action towards eco-resilience while bringing communities together. New studies and technology make it easier to calculate the benefits of trees, creating more municipal funding opportunities.
On a home scale, tree planting is a rewarding way to invest in the future while adding beauty, shade, wildlife habitat, and more oxygen-rich air. However, city trees must be resilient to withstand exposure to pollution and compacted soils.
Some excellent urban tree options include:
- Ginkgo biloba
- Japanese maple
- Flowering dogwood
- Magnolia spp.
- Sugar Maple
- Gymnocladus dioicus
- Apple and pear trees
- Bald cypress
- Weeping willow
Before planting a tree, always consider its mature size, soil requirements, and water needs. Take the time to prepare the planting hole properly and set your baby tree up for a happy life!
Optimistic, bright, gothic, and eco-conscious are the 2024 garden vibes! Like fashion, gardening trends offer a creative and artistic way to merge culture and plants. The continuous progress toward greater sustainability, self-sufficiency, and eco-consciousness seems to catch on more every year.
Embrace the excitement of new plant varieties, bright colors, exotic flowers, and new planting methods to help connect with fellow plant lovers and create landscapes that inspire hope for nature in our modern world.