Trends to watch out for in 2023

Self-reliance! That’s going to be the dominant theme of 2023, shaping our approach to life, and gardening in the coming year.

In this crazy mixed-up world, reliance on self is the only certainty. This is the driving force of the moment according to the Garden Media Group in their 2023 Garden Trends Report.

The overriding desire, they note, is to reduce dependency on people and systems, while striving for greater personal empowerment.

Sound familiar? Even though the report is drawn from US experience, there seems to be a growing confluence of opinion, or maybe disenchantment, with the state of things, even continents apart.

While their report is very US specific, there is much that speaks to our own situation.

Cocooning is here to stay, but more nuanced towards self-reliance. As the report puts it, “cocooning ourselves in experiences and things most sacred… to us.”

In South Africa that is home, and family. It’s about growing vegetables, herbs and more recently flowers for the home, especially heirloom varieties that mothers and grandmothers grew for the vase. Making healthy choices for the family about what to grow, eat, and buy.

Container gardening continues to trend. Searches reached new highs on Google Trends each season, and it is reported to be the preferred way of gardening particularly among 34 to 45 year old gardeners. It has to do with smaller gardens, but maybe also because containers are such useful and beautiful garden accessories.

Containers are incorporated into landscapes as a matter of course, often as focal points and features. Or used like scatter cushions, to change the look and colour scheme with each new season.

They make gardening easier too, able to be moved around until the right place is found for them. Better than uprooting a plant over and again.

Indoor houseplants is another trend that’s here to stay, with the prediction that plant parents will be looking to expand their collections with unusual and even rare plants.

There will be an interest in unusual colours, like Philodendron “Prince of Orange’ or black ZZ plant, as well as intriguing leaf shapes, patterns and textures like Calathea Orbifolia (pictured). No more the same-old, indoor plants. The indoor plant scene is buzzing, vibrant and exciting.

Covid got us looking inward and reduced our social reach, with a retreat into our homes, estates and neighbourhoods. While technology opened up the world on a virtual level, crime and load shedding has locked us down, again.

That’s led to more online shopping and delivery within 30 minutes. Gardening is going that way too and it is a trend that can only grow. A member of the green industry recently lamented that visits to garden centres had dropped because of the traffic frustrations caused by load shedding.

Instead, gardening has gone virtual, with a massive upsurge in TikTok. Virtual gardening with virtual experts, but how deep does it go? At least it has made gardening more accessible and is entertaining, which includes many more wannabe gardeners. For a deeper dive there is the internet with reputable international sites like The Spruce, Gardeningknowhow, and

But it is important to note they are predominantly American or British, with different seasons and climatic zones. For local conditions go local with very good South African resources like PlantZafrica (the Sanbi website) for indigenous plants, the Gardener online,, as well as the websites of seed suppliers, garden centres, growers and more.

A trend that really resonates is the need to plant more trees to ‘contribute to climate change resilience.’ They are talking forests, but aren’t many of our cities already urban forests? So, let’s just keep on adding to the urban forests. However, the experts warn that ‘planting the wrong trees in the wrong place can actually reduce biodiversity, speed extinctions, and make ecosystems far less resilient.’

A great local resource is Food and Trees for Africa that has all sorts of creative ways to encourage tree planting, including corporates offsetting their environmental footprint through tree planting sponsorships.

Finally, the colour of the year is terracotta, that lovely earthy red-brown colour of nature. For many gardeners it has never gone out of fashion. So glad it is back.

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