Trendsetters and trend trackers are busy trying to figure out what we’ll all be planting this year. One of the most reputable and reliable sources of this information, the National Garden Bureau, names plants and products each year to its “Year of the” program. The nonprofit organization works to promote plants, as well as gardening itself, and selects one annual, one edible, one perennial and one bulb plant each year.
Plants that make the cut must be easy to grow, genetically diverse and include new varieties.
The following plants have been named 2017’s crops of the year, so you can expect to see them figuring prominently in catalogs, on nursery shelves — and likely in your own garden.
Annual: The year of the pansy
Best known for their “smiling” faces, pansies often are mistaken for violas or violets. Modern pansies, however, are classified by the American Violet Society as “having large-flowered blooms with two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals and a single bottom petal, with a slight beard in its center.” The plants, which thrive in cool weather, are considered annuals.
Available in yellow, orange, maroon, purple, blue, pink, rust and other variations, pansies differ from most commercially available annuals in their heat and cold tolerance. Unlike petunias, for instance, which are typically planted in spring, thrive during summer and peter out in autumn, pansies bloom in fall, survive the winter and repeat the performance in spring before the heat does them in. Some are even marketed as “winter pansies,” but don’t be fooled by the hype: Just about all pansies will make it through winter and return in spring.
Edible: The year of the brassica
Also known as cole crops, vegetables classified as brassicas include bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, turnips and rutabagas.
Easy to grow, brassicas are cool-weather crops, ideally planted in spring, or late summer for a fall harvest, with no concern for the seasons’ lower temperatures. In fact, their flavor actually improves after exposure to a light frost.
Perennial: The year of the rose
You might be partial to shrub roses, sprawling roses, climbing roses, once-blooming or ever-blooming roses. There are species roses and moss roses, and hybrid tea, rambling, miniature and landscape roses. And we can’t forget floribunda, grandiflora and their ilk.
That may seem like a lot, but considering there are more than 150 species of roses, relatively few are used in modern gardens.
Landscape roses, such as those of the omnipresent Knock-Out series, are the most popular among homeowners, largely due to their long bloom time, disease resistance and low-maintenance qualities.
Bulb: The year of the daffodil
Early-blooming, self-propagating, deer- and rodent-resistant flowers that bring joy and return in abundance year after year — what’s not to love?
These harbingers of spring are easy to plant and care for, too: Just sink them into the ground anytime from early fall until the ground freezes, and add a bit of 5-10-5 fertilizer for good measure. Come spring, and for all your springs to come, your garden will reward you with yellow, white or two-toned cup-and-saucer flowers that will multiply each year.
And the varieties! Choose from tiny jonquils, trumpet, double, large cup or small cup varieties.