University of Vermont
Department of Plant and Soil Science

gmg logo Winter/Spring News Articleline


Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus
University of Vermont

Each year, the Garden Media Group ( a marketing firm for the home and garden industry—identifies key gardening trends for the coming season. For 2017 they’ve pegged eight of these around the theme of Grow 365, reflecting “people’s desire to bring health and wellness into their everyday lives all year long.”
The first gardening trend they list is growing food indoors.  “From growing arugula to bok choy, clean fresh food will be available to plant, pick and plate every season…. From herbal tea gardens on the window sill and healing herbs under lights to vitamin-packed microgreens on the kitchen counter, medicinal gardens are blooming indoors.” 
Already, “37% of Millennials and 28% of Boomers are growing herbs indoors.”  They cite the statistic that two-thirds of parents feel children should be involved with activities relating to healthy food. The indoor gardening market has grown 8.2 percent in the last five years.  “According to the 2016 IKEA Life at Home Report, 60 percent of people worldwide grow vegetables or flowers indoors…Growing under lights is forecast to grow 6.3% each year through 2021.”
The second trend relates to using nature for wellness.  One way they predict many will do this is through “forest bathing”—“a cornerstone of preventive health care and natural healing in Japanese medicine”, developed there in the 1980s.  “Forest bathing is the medicine of being in the forest and spending time in nature awakening all five senses.” 
Using trees to “soundscape”—adding pleasant sounds or reducing annoying ones—is another wellness trend.  Trees also act as a sunscreen, providing the equivalent of an SPF10 lotion.  Plants in workplaces, they predict, will continue to be added.  “Indoor office plants create healthier and happier workers, lower healthcare costs, increase productivity, lower absenteeism and reduce turnover.”
Trend three is “tidying”.  Taken from the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, and the book by Marie Kondo, “tidy gardens does not mean trimmed hedges and clean corners. It simply reflects a global shift toward reduced consumption coupled with finding bliss in what you do, not in what you have.”  As the author states, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”
Some of the tips given for tidy gardens includes getting rid of plants that are overgrown or past their prime; creating boundaries and defining spaces; using a limited palette of plants and non-plant (hardscape) items; thinning the garden; getting rid of garden clutter; eliminating synthetic chemicals, whether fertilizers or pesticides.
Related to the last tip is the fourth trend—clean gardening.  Americans are increasingly growing, and buying, food that they know where it comes from, and what has been used (or not) in growing it.  “Clean gardening means using only products that come from natural origins – no synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic pesticides and no GMO seeds.”  The top three challenges gardeners listed in 2016 were cost, time, and concern about chemicals. 
Uber-izing” is the fifth trend they list.  “People want to buy from trustworthy sources who have done the research, curation and personalization for them.”  Subscription services are a key part of this trend, and “can range from seeds of the month and artisanal microgreens to heirloom bulbs and new plants.”  They’ll help beginning gardeners know where to start and with what, as well as introduce those more experienced to new plants and products. Products and services delivered to one’s door will offer convenience, and save time, perhaps money too. Subscriptions also can include gardening classes and workshops.  The report states that “65 percent of Millennials would attend a class or workshop at a store to enhance their growing skills.” 
Natural pest control is their sixth trend.  Using nature to keep your yard free of harmful insects can be economical, education, fun, and doesn’t harm the environment.  Essential oils, as from many herbs, help repel mosquitoes.  Helping bats, whose numbers are threatened, is another aspect to natural pest control.  One bat house can hold up to 25 bats, which could eat 150,000 or more insects each night! 
Birds are HUGE insects eaters as well, including robins, mockingbirds, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, in addition to those noted for this—barn swallows and purple martins.  Stopping synthetic chemical use, providing water and feeders and houses, and planting flowers and trees are all ways to encourage more birds in your landscape.
The “golden age”—using more metallic materials and textures in the garden, as has been a trend indoors—is the seventh trend.  This can include metallic trays, lights, accent furniture, and even plants with golden foliage such as a mass of the golden carex sedge perennial.
The final trend is the effort by many professionals in the gardening industry to promote the benefits of gardening, to create a garden culture in the United States.  This is being done by two organizations in particular—the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (, and Seed Your Future with their emphasis on youth (  These professionals seek “to increase awareness that gardening is important to create a healthy life, healthy community and healthy world.”

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