This article appears in Summer Home & Garden 2018.

More American households are gardening now than ever before. That’s just one of many findings in the National Gardening Survey from Garden Research, a private company that provides market research information for the lawn, garden and nursery industries.

The 77 percent of households who reported doing something in the garden is the highest in 35 years of the national survey.

Increasingly, today’s gardener is a young man. More males 18 to 34 are flexing their green thumbs with lawn and garden activities — from 23 percent in 2016 to 27 percent in 2017.

Gardening participation among younger households reached an all-time high in 2017, while the proportion of older gardeners (55 and older) held steady at 35 percent, the annual survey found. Younger gardeners do not spend as much money as their parents do on the activity, but they report being seriously engaged in more than simply houseplants and vegetables, said industry analyst Ian Baldwin, who participated in the survey.

“From small beginnings with a succulent here and a houseplant there, the under-35s are now truly engaged in the full range of gardening activities,” Baldwin said. “Eighteen- to 34-year-olds now occupy 29 percent of all gardening households. It’s a strong sign that they are finally ‘in.’”

Smaller-scale gardening

Plant-loving millennials are also responsible for a big boom in the industry, especially embracing houseplants and container gardening. With a trend toward wellness and many millennials opting to rent rather than buy a home, houseplants and container gardens are affordable, entry-level ways to embrace gardening, Baldwin said.

“More and more consumers are choosing not to dig holes in their leisure times. If they have the finances, they are investing in raised beds,” Baldwin said.

From the slightly exotic, easy-to-grow Chinese money plant to the traditionally popular fiddle leaf ficus, houseplants are back in a big way. People of all ages are integrating greenery into their homes and offices with plants of various shapes and sizes, Baldwin said.

Overall, American gardeners reported spending a record $47.8 billion on lawn and garden retail sales, the highest ever, with a record average household spend of $503 ­— up nearly $100 over the previous year.

This is the first year the survey included information on cannabis growing, and 33 million households (27 percent) said it should be legal to grow for personal use. Fifteen percent of households (19 million) said they would grow cannabis if it were legal to do so.

The online survey used a representative sample of more than 2,000 U.S. households nationwide. It is an annual survey that was released in mid-April.

Free garden apps

While gardeners may have previously bought glossy coffee table books and catalogs to learn about their hobby, today’s gardeners are increasingly seeking information with the help of gardening apps and websites. Here are a few of the most popular free apps:

— Garden Compass offers plant identification, expert advice and monthly reminders.

— Homegrown with Bonnie Plants offers information on over 250 vegetables and herbs, how-to guides and the ability to track your garden’s progress.

— Garden Time Planner is a database of plants, local weather and how-to videos.

— Gardroid tells you how and when to plant and harvest fruits and vegetables, plus offers tips and notifications.