These Are the Best Cities in the U.S. For Gardeners

updated Apr 30, 2020
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There’s no better hobby to tackle during the quarantine than gardening. Not only is it a great form of exercise, but it can help moderate stress and anxiety as well. (It’s no wonder the World Health Organization says spending time in green spaces is beneficial to one’s health.) And seeing as the quarantine coincides with spring, gardening is a great activity you can pursue amidst stay-at-home orders.

And it sounds like Americans are making use of this time: According to Garden Research’s National Gardening Survey, 77 percent of American households are gardening, with increased participation from people between the ages of 18-34. The team from Breck’s went one step further, investigating the best possible environments for gardeners in terms of both environmental and sociocultural factors. 

In order to determine the 50 best cities in the US for gardeners, Breck’s examined several important factors, including the average month temperature and precipitation, and the number of days in the growing season. They also examined additional factors like the number of nurseries and gardening stores, community gardens, regional gardening clubs, and annual gardening events. They ranked each city on a 50 point scale. 

Coming in the number one slot is Orlando, Florida with a score of 40.6 out of 50 points. Home to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Orlando has that perfect sun-drenched climate for avid green thumbs, along with healthy precipitation levels and a long growing season. And with plenty of humidity, the climate is really great for plants and flowers that thrive in moisture. It’s no wonder that Miami and Tampa, Florida came in the second and third slots with scores of 39.8 and 39.6, especially with the state’s record high numbers of gardening stores, gardening clubs, and annual flower events.

Credit: Brecks

Following Orlando, Tampa, and Miami in the top three slots is Riverside, California, scoring a 33.4 out of 50 points. Closing out the top five is Atlanta, Georgia, where there are nearly 400 garden clubs in the city and its suburbs. (The average temperature between 60 and 75 degrees certainly doesn’t hurt, either.) Ranking at number six and seven are St. Louis, Missouri, which serves as the headquarters of the National Garden Clubs,  and Houston, Texas. They’re followed by San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento closing out the top ten.

As for the worst cities for green thumbs, Hartford, Connecticut ranked in the number one slot with a score of 11.3. Now before you protest, keep in mind that as we write this, we’re sitting next to a lovely garden right outside Hartford. But the truth is that colder temperatures of New England and shorter, unpredictable growing seasons do make things a bit more complicated. And according to Breck’s, Hartford only has three community gardens and 30 regional gardening clubs. Sounds like whoever voted in that poll needs to make a visit to stunning garden spots in the Hartford area, like the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden, or the Gardens at Hill-Stead in Farmington. Behind Hartford is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Providence, Rhode Island, with scores of 13 and 13.9. Keep in mind, these rankings are determined based on the average temperatures of both cities, the precipitation levels, and a short growing season of only 161 days. 

Here’s the thing: Whether you have a sprawling backyard that’s fit for a garden straight out of a Nancy Meyers movie, or a single basil pot sitting on your fire escape, gardening is a wonderful outlet for anyone who’s looking to develop a great, lifelong hobby. And clearly, whether your hometown ranks on the best or worst list, you can learn to grow and develop a garden no matter your location. All it takes is a little bit of resolve, some soil, and a whole lot of patience.