Ideas to help you reap big rewards from your garden

Begonia in pot
Begonias in 2 pots
Close up of peppers

Get active outdoors with a hobby more satisfying than binge-watching another television series. As a pastime, gardening can help you eat delicious, more flavorful food while transforming your patio or yard into a colorful hangout for butterflies and bees.

Many people don’t realize how easy it is to have a fresh supply of crisp veggies, fragrant herbs or fresh-grown flowers. Whether you have a balcony, rooftop or patio, gardening is a hobby that quite literally allows you to harvest big rewards.

One of the most exciting parts of gardening is deciding what to grow. With thousands of plants to choose from — flowers, vegetables and herbs — a small pot of soil can be a canvas for creativity.

To find the most popular flowers and plants this year, we checked in with Ball Horticultural Company, a global leader on all things gardening, to see what the top trends are in 2018.

Strong and colorful

When spring arrives, we all crave color and warmth to celebrate the end of winter. To get that wow factor — and get it fast — try planting flowers that grow and fill in quickly and thrive in extremes. The Megawatt Begonia brings magnetic color even in shaded spaces. It’s also a low-maintenance option if you’re new to gardening. Likewise, the Echinacea Sombrero Sangrita is a perennial flower that returns each year with stunning red blossoms.

For foodies who want to show off

Every chef knows the secret to tasty cooking is great ingredients. For many gardeners, the truly magical combination is finding that edible veggie that looks as good as it tastes. Take 2 Combos combine two sweet pepper plants with a touch of heat and beautiful orange and yellow fruit. There’s also a combo of a slicer and cherry tomato perfect for small spaces and for snacking and cooking. Speaking of peppers, a new, attractive variety is Candy Cane Red Pepper. It has green fruit striping that ripens to red and offers up crisp, sweet flavors, much like a candy cane!

A refuge for bees, butterflies and beyond

There are dozens of reasons people choose to garden: fresh food, interior and exterior decoration, relaxation, stress reduction and more. One emerging trend is that people want to make their garden a destination for pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A few captivating flowers that attract these beautiful and helpful creatures are:

* Lucky Star Pentas — Provides butterflies summer-long flower clusters in eye-catching colors

* Copper Prince Ornamental Millet — This thriller makes a dramatic statement with foxtail plumes that birds feast upon

* SuperBlue Lavender — A deeply colorful and fragrant bee magnet

Gardening helps you relax and decompress. What’s more, there is a huge amount of satisfaction involved in seeing your vegetables and flowers grow. Follow these trends and watch your plants blossom and beautify your home and yard. After all, we could all use a little more color in our lives.

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