Photo Credit: Kerry Stober
By: Kerry Stober
Question: Are there any new ideas or plants that work well in Alabama you would recommend in my garden this year?
Gardening is one of the oldest and most popular hobbies around the world. There are multitudes of ways you can adapt gardening to your tastes and space available, which is what makes it so fun and accessible! After reviewing the predicted gardening trends from several sources, I have compiled a small review of these ideas, plants, and trends that we may see more in Alabama this year.
As far as the 2018 color palette is concerned, purple is predicted to be the most fashionable this year. Thankfully there are hundreds of purple flowering plant varieties available if you want to incorporate it into your garden. Moreover, there are many plants with purple foliage you can utilize to add a pop of color amidst the usual green. Also this year we will see more woodland greens, eggshell blues, redwood browns, and neutral tans; all of which work perfectly for a southern garden. Some newer purple plant options include:
|Plant Variety||Hardiness||Bloom Time|
|Phlox ‘Running with Scissors’||Zones 4-8||Early Spring|
|Clematis ‘Chloe’||Zones 4-9||Continual May-Oct.|
|Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Cape Cod’||Zones 4-9||Spring through summer|
|Lavandula angustifolia ‘Lavance Deep Purple’||Zones 5-8||Late spring-Summer|
|Perovskia antriplicifolia ‘Perovskia Blue Steel’||Zones 4-9||Summer-Late summer|
|Salvia VIBE ‘Ignition Purple’||Zones 7-11||Spring through summer|
Also try planting some of the flowering herb varieties of rosemary, Russian sage, or bee balm for a pop of purple or light blue. Herbs are multi-purpose plants and they go great with the next trending theme!
Another trend continuing from previous years is the “Grow Your Own” movement of homeowners becoming more sustainable by growing their own herbs, vegetables, and fruits. A fun part of growing your own edible plants in the garden is trying new foods you may not be able to buy in the local produce section. Now is a great time to browse seed or plant catalogs in search of “new to you” varieties of vegetables and herbs. Try unusual colors of tomatoes (‘Midnight Snack’ hybrid is a large dark purple) or carrots (‘Purplesnax’ hybrid has purple skin and an orange center), seedless melons (try Mini Piccolo), or a new spicy pepper (try Orange Pepperoncini). You may just find a fresh favorite!
Containers and indoor potted plants are making a huge comeback this year. Novel styles of hanging planters and colorful pots with unusual shapes and textures are very popular. Indoor plants provide several benefits to the homeowner including stress relief, controlling humidity, cleaning air, and promoting better sleep. Containers are also great for patios and seating areas outside. Make a lush and private area outside your home to entertain, creating walls or screens by placing taller potted plants like boxwoods, cannas, dracaena, fountain grass, or elephant ears. Planting for privacy and security is also becoming very popular. Using vines or thorny varieties on property or yard borders can be utilized to prevent trespassing. Also planting these types of vegetation under windows or around vulnerable entry points can be useful. Taller full plantings can provide privacy screens for easily visible windows or outdoor entertaining areas.
When considering using plants for all of the purposes we have discussed, try to keep pollinators in mind. Plants often have a pollinator logo on their label that lets you know that it is a plant which attracts these insects. Fragrant flowers are a great way to create a monarch butterfly waystation, and flowers that have longer bloom seasons are great resources for bees. For monarchs some of the suggested plants include: milkweeds, butterfly weed, zinnias, marigold, cosmos, and goldenrod. For bees you may want to try a regional pollinator seed mix that is specific to the southeast.
I hope these popular gardening trends are easy to incorporate into your landscape or home!
Garden Talk is written by Kerry Stober of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). She is housed at the C. Beaty Hanna Horticultural and Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This column includes research based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. Email questions to Kerry at KDS0010@aces.edu or call 205-879-6964 x19. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome!