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5 Hot Garden Trends for 2024

By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Like fashion and interior design, garden trends develop and change from year to year. As they gain momentum, we find them splashed across social media, Netflix shows, magazine pages and more. Let’s see which topics you can expect to see popping up more and more as we embark on a new gardening season.

Still going strong, sustainability tops the trends list for 2024 as people apply the concept to their yards and gardens in a changing climate. For the first time since 2012, the USDA Hardiness Zone map has been adjusted to reflect a slight change in hardiness zones for about half the country, which means the plant palette may have just gotten a bit broader for some of us. Don’t run out and buy palm trees if you live in the North just yet—the change is subtle, with a bump of a half zone warmer at most for some states. However, these small temperature changes reflect a bigger picture and an even larger shift in the way people are using their outdoor spaces.

Current color trends are reflecting a play on opposites. People are seeing things in black and white while also experimenting with moody colors like deep reds and purples. With the added bonus of heat tolerance in extreme temperatures, silver foliage plants will be used this year to light up gardens in the evening as people relax on their patios after work.

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New this year, Summerific® ‘All Eyes on Me’ perennial hibiscus will be making a splash in rain gardens nationwide this summer.

Rain Gardens Do the Dirty Work

As a whole, people are becoming more environmentally conscious about what goes into the earth and our waterways. The concept of rain gardens isn’t new, but with more being installed by municipalities across the country, their visibility is growing, and more people are embracing this trend as a way to manage stormwater.

Intended to slow the flow of water away from a property, the benefits of rain gardens are two-fold: they filter runoff before it reaches our waterways and keep more water on site.

Runoff water made dirty by roof and driveway pollutants is filtered by rain gardens before it reaches storm drains and retention ponds where it can harm aquatic life. Plant roots do the dirty work by slowly filtering out pollutants from the runoff water. Natives like rose mallow, phlox, and bee balm are great plants for rain gardens.

Because rain gardens keep water on-site longer, more of it is absorbed by the soil and vegetation in our landscapes. A garden that stays wetter longer inevitably becomes more resilient and better able to sustain significant vegetation. This concept is especially beneficial in areas where rainfall is inconsistent or scarce.

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From mounding black foliage to amethyst flower plumes, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ astilbe was made for goth gardens.

Goth Gardens

Embrace the dark side of gardening! Dramatic landscapes are on trend and goth gardens are all the rage. The moody aesthetic, inspired by the haunted romanticism of the Victorian era (think Edgar Allan Poe and Frankenstein), uses plants to invoke an intense or spooky vibe. Goth gardens can feel mysterious and secretive, like maybe you shouldn’t be there, but you are and that’s exhilarating!

Like any garden, a well-designed goth garden includes plants that carry interest from season to season. It embraces and leaves standing things like seedheads and spent blooms that might otherwise be tidied up and thrown into the compost. They help to play up the forbidden aesthetic. The element of decay is powerful in the goth garden.

Looking for black foliage? Try these:

How about some moody flowers, too?

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Marked by repetition and drift planting, naturalistic plantings embrace the elements of form and shape. In the trio pictured here, the flowers of Color Coded® ‘The Fuchsia is Bright’ coneflower develop nutritious seed heads birds love during the fall and winter months. Repeat-blooming ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ catmint provides pillows of pollinator-friendly flowers from early summer to fall. Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne Sky’ switch grass turns brilliant red earlier than most switch grasses beginning in early summer and contributes the elements of dynamic movement and sound.

Naturalistic Plantings

Inspired by the flowing prairie style plantings of Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, naturalistic plantings embrace an aesthetic that is in tune with nature. Marked by soft drifts of perennials and grasses, this garden style involves fewer plant varieties planted in larger groupings which do a better job supporting pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

While not entirely maintenance-free, as no garden truly is, naturalistic plantings require less maintenance once they are established. The plants tend to reseed and knit together, forming a matrix that holds its shape through winter while providing refuge for birds and insects.

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A great front-of-the-border plant, 'Silver Lining' white sagebrush will spread up to three feet across, making it great for rambling along an edge or spilling over the edge of a rock wall.  

Silver Plants Have Superpowers

Silver locks are in, even among the younger generation, and the fondness for this cool tone extends to gardens, too. Did you know that silver plants have superpowers? They possess an innate ability to be nearly impervious to drought conditions. Light-reflecting cells, white wax or fine hairs cover their leaves, lending a silvery appearance. Beneath that sparkly surface lives a green plant that’s able to shrug off harsh sun and survive periods of dry weather. That makes them especially valuable in areas where drought and sweltering heat are on the rise.

That’s not to say you can plant them and walk away. Every plant has a breaking point. Silver ones just tend to be better at dealing with extremes which makes them lower maintenance than many others. Plus, they are easy to coordinate with everything else in the garden. They soften harsh oranges and reds while blending beautifully with pastel pinks and blues.

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Want this look? Start by considering the amount of light your space receives. The leafjoy® houseplant line from Proven Winners features four collections which help people understand where in their home the plants will thrive. Featured here is the leafjoy SpaScene™ collection.

Colorful Houseplants

It doesn’t look like the houseplant trend is going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, it’s amping up as people link inner peace and calm with houseplants. And the more the merrier! Biophilic design is everywhere as people bring nature inside™. Earth-tone paint colors, rooms bathed in natural light, and houseplants with striking variegation blur the line between man-made and nature-made.

Houseplants with erratic variegation, boldly-colored foliage and those with gorgeous flowers are popping up at garden centers nationwide this time of year as people are focused on indoor gardening. A few of the most colorful varieties to explore include:

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Patent Information: Summerific® ‘All Eyes on Me’ Hibiscus USPPAF CanPBRAF; ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ Astilbe USPP35461 CanPBRAF; Color Coded® ‘The Fuchsia is Bright’ Echinacea USPP35141 CanPBRAF; ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ Nepeta USPP31127 CanPBRAF; Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne Sky’ Panicum virgatum USPP23209; ‘Silver Lining’ Artemesia USPPAF CanPBRAF

Heather Blackmore is a Chicago-area gardener, writer and speaker who hopes her passion will inspire others to find their way to a happier, healthier life in the garden.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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