If you’re the type who lives for not just what’s now but what’s next, then the 2023 Garden Trends Report from the Garden Media Group will be right up your alley. Katie Dubow, president of Garden Media Group, presented what’s on tap for next year at this summer’s Cultivate’22.
The title of the 2023 report is “I Believe in Me,” explaining in its introduction “The ‘90s were about me, the early 2000s, Treat Yo’Self and self-care (or self-indulgence), and 2023 is self-reliance.” The entire concept comes on the heels of more than two years of pandemic, during which we learned we can’t control external things – but we can control what we do, what we think and what we buy.
“These are about big driving movements – the individual and access, wild and wonderful and different and eclectic,” said Dubow. “It’s not self-indulgence but self-reliance. Consumers feel empowered when they use and buy our products. And the best garden centers are the ones that reflect the owner’s personality … Self-reliance is positive.”
Garden Media Group developed seven major trends for 2023: The Tesla Effect, the Backdoor Revolution, Accessible Gardening, PlantTok, It’s All Greek to Me, Redrawing the Map and the Color of the Year.
The Tesla Effect
This trend focuses on the fact that technology advancements are occurring faster and more frequently, and that includes the horticulture sphere. Dubow noted the lawn and garden industry is at times ahead of the curve on this, with more electric battery-powered equipment available.
The report noted, “Silicon Valley tech investors are moving in on creators and brands to help accelerate growth, modernize operations, enhance capabilities and make gardening much more accessible.” For example, Roomba, the company that created the meandering vacuum cleaner, is working on developing a robotic weeder called Tertill®.
The days of simply selling plants and produce on-site changed a lot during COVID protocols, and so omnichannel commerce will also continue to evolve. According to McKinsey, grocery e-commerce sales have grown 60% since 2020 – and horticulture sales are similar. The report said that people also like the convenience of online shopping and prefer home delivery.
Following that finding, since more people like to fill their baskets online, the report predicts an app revival. From Seed to Spoon by Park Seed allows you to shop, log plants, calculate planting and harvesting dates and find recipes, for example. Dubow added that customers tend to spend two to four times more in an app than they do in person.
The Backdoor Revolution
The revolution revolves around the lack of available housing for those looking to purchase homes. This is where accessory dwelling units (ADUs) come into play. ADUs are self-contained living units that can be attached or detached from single-family homes – creating shared backyards for many.
“There will be more backyard growing with these new buildings and shared spaces, but privacy will be key,” Dubow said. That means arbors, trellises and plants that grow upward, creating green walls and vertical spaces. It will also mean smaller plants in containers rather than large, lawn-filling gardens.
“In 2023 and beyond, 100 is the new 50,” the report stated. More and more elderly people are “super-agers,” whose brains function as if they were 30 years younger (even if their bodies don’t). However, housing and other options haven’t caught up to where they are yet – thus the need for accessible gardening. Dubow suggested offering classes on different ways to garden and creating more growing spaces that are kinder to bad backs.
There’s also the concept of “down-aging,” which means people of all generations – from Boomers through Millennials – are nostalgic for things from their youth, finding comfort in familiar pursuits and products from decades past. The report said, “Brands who tug at the nostalgic heart-strings of Down-Agers will win their business. Enact a throwback logo for an anniversary, revive a bestseller or relaunch a product with a smart spin.”
“You can’t ignore this anymore and it’s not just influencers anymore,” Dubow said of the wildly popular TikTok app. The average user spends 52 minutes a day on the app, 90% of users visit it more than once a day and globally, there are more than a billion monthly active users.
She added that you can’t know which plants are trending if you’re not on TikTok. Specifically, she mentioned users @flockfingerlakes, @nativeplanttok and @learntogrow1 as those who are using #PlantTok effectively. Your return on investment from using the app comes back with recognition.
Digging deeper, PlantTok is “fueled by those looking to create unique spaces that speak to their identity.” Examples listed included #gnomecore, #WitchTok and #moongardens – which all provide new ways to frame these “older” trends for new consumers.
According to Great Grow Along, 85% of customers purchase products or services after seeing them reviewed on social and 79% take gardening advice from online sources. This gives an air of community spirit when gathering inspiration and entertainment. Social commerce has a big influence on purchases.
It’s All Greek to Me
The return to Classical decorating and landscaping is being embraced by today’s youngest consumers (Gen Z). It’s all about Romantic beauty and choosing the right plants. The report stated, “A garden to suit the Greek gods: stone walls, archways and a pale-colored backdrop are typical features of a Greek garden; add statuary and terra cotta, and use symmetry; use plants to shade seating areas with climbers around arches and tall trees; create impact by elevating raised beds and patios; key plants are hardy, water-wise succulents, boxwood and roses; [and] grow bulbs, such as agapanthus and cyclamen, for a natural, timeless look.”
“Gravel gardens are having a moment,” Dubow said. They give a feeling of “high style.” Gravel gardens, a staple of Greek design, look amazing in heat and drought and require 80% less maintenance.
Redrawing the Map
Since the USDA hardiness zone map was last updated in 2012, nearly half the country is at least half a zone warmer, Dubow reported. Researchers believe the lines will continue to creep northward at a “climate velocity” of 13 miles per decade. Because of this, trees – a critical part of the landscape – can’t adapt as quickly as they need to.
Fortunately, trees are part of the climate solution as well. The trees we plant today will have an effect until 2123 and beyond. In the report, Dan Herms, Ph.D., a scientist at Davey Tree, said we need to make informed decisions about which trees to plant for the changing climate because trees are one solution to battle a warming planet.
It’s about the right tree in the right place. For example, in central West Virginia, oak and hickory are predicted to increase in dominance as sugar maple, beech and gray birch decrease in abundance, per the report. In northern Maine, spruce-fir forests will transition to maple-beech-birch forests, which will be replaced by oak-hickory forests in New York.
To learn more about which trees are best for your area, visit daveytrees.com/climate.
Color of the Year
The Garden Trends Report claims terra cotta to be the Color of the Year for 2023. “Earth tones are having a big moment,” Dubow said. Terra cotta specifically evokes the spirit of many different cultures: orange is the color of transformation in Confucianism, the color of perfection and illumination in Buddhism and a color used in Hinduism dresses of Krishna. In Western culture orange is associated with feelings of warmth, excitement and amusement.
“It adds warmth and vibrancy,” Dubow said of the shade. She suggested thinking “outside the container” to utilize the color. It can be a highlight color amongst a more gentle, contemporary color palette. It can be a flower color. You could even partner with an artist to paint terra cotta pots – or offer a class letting your customers create the artwork themselves.
To download the full 2023 Garden Trends Report, visit grow.gardenmediagroup.com/2023-garden-trends-report.
by Courtney Llewellyn