The 10 Best U.S. Cities for Gardening

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by Muriel Vega

10 Best Cities for Gardening

As April showers bring May flowers, it’s time to start planting.

No matter your apartment’s lighting, there’s a plant for all situations. For example, lettuce, arugula and beans grow fast in mostly lower indoor light and small containers — perfect for a windowsill.

And while coronavirus has made the purchasing process a little more difficult, nurseries in your area may offer safe curbside pickup and seeds for purchase.

Recommended: 7 Tips for the New Veggie Gardener

Gardening will keep you occupied during this time of social distancing, plus save you a grocery store trip and lead to a healthier diet.

Finding the Best Cities for Gardening

We looked at the number of gardening businesses per capita in cities across the country, with an average temperature of at least 55 degrees. As those showers bring May blooms, here are the 10 best cities for gardening.

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1. Knoxville, TN

The top of our list as the best city for gardening is Tennessee’s Knoxville. With 52 gardening establishments, there are plenty of places for all of the city’s gardening enthusiasts to find the bulbs and plants they need. So, what should you add to your container garden? Beets, leeks, cauliflower, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes and cucumbers. Of course, don’t forget your herb garden. In late May, you can add sweet potatoes. Just make sure to stay on top of watering as southern summers are no joke.

2. Columbia, SC

A few vegetables that thrive in Columbia include cucumbers, peppers, asparagus, onions, leeks, shallots, squash and rhubarb. The city’s 65-degree average, year-round temperature makes it an ideal place to spend the day outside gardening and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Ranked second in our best cities for gardening list, Columbia has plenty to offer with nearly 28 gardening establishments per capita.

Recommended: 10 Annuals for a Garden That Blooms with Color All Summer

3. Orlando, FL

The climate in the South (think heat, humidity, drought and pests) can often be harsh for growing your vegetables, but with the right setup and seeds, you can make it in Orlando. Start with artichokes, okra, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peas, plus a small herb garden if you’re aching to work on your garden in the summer. In the fall, start your onion, radish, turnip, carrots, strawberries and spinach. You won’t have a lack of supplies as Orlando has more than 54 gardening establishments within the city limits (that’s 18.9 per 100,000 residents).

Pixabay Raised Garden Bed


4. Evansville, IN

Eating what you grow, especially in these times of quarantine, can be rewarding. In Evansville, you can easily grow flower and vegetable gardens at the same time, but you have to wait until late May to avoid cold, damaging temperatures. You can add beans, sweet corn, beets and carrots as seedlings to your garden and start with transplants for cucumbers, melons, tomatoes and okra. It’s important to keep your plants warm since the average temperature is 57 degrees. This can be done with a raised garden bed or a greenhouse. You can pick up all materials at gardening establishments in the city — there are 18.6 per capita. You can also find a one-bedroom

5. Birmingham, AL

You can start your garden early in Birmingham, as long as the ground is not frozen and can be worked. By April, you should have started your onions, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce. If you have a later start, add tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn and peas to your list to grow in your garden by early May. With an average temperature of 63.5 degrees, it’s important to keep an eye on the weather for any unexpected freezes. The city also has 17.2 gardening establishment per 100,000 residents.

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6. West Palm Beach, FL

On average, the last spring frost at West Palm Beach occurs in early March so you can get your garden started earlier than most spots. Head to one of the 17.1 gardening establishments per capita in West Palm Beach (or talk with your landscaper) and start planning your crops for the summer and fall. Start your herbs, peppers, celery, tomatoes, watermelon and Swiss chard from transplants around this time for robust crops.

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7. Topeka, KS

Thanks to cooler weather, Topeka gardening largely focuses on fruits like strawberries, grapes, raspberries and blackberries. However, these vines do need sufficient square footage to grow, so make sure that your apartment complex has room for a garden bed. Other vegetables to add to your garden include corn, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, radishes and rhubarb. Topeka has 16.7 gardening stores per capita to grab all the supplies you need. Just keep an eye on the weather for sudden freezes as you move your seedlings outdoor.

8. Amarillo, TX

With 33 garden establishments (that’s 16.5 per 100,000 residents), Amarillo’s residents are equipped with the best resources to start their gardens. For those that want to plant blooms, start planting annuals in April. For veggies, wait until the soil reaches a warmer 60 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe. Amarillo tends to have late freezes, so keep an eye on the weather up to Memorial Day weekend. Start your broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale, peppers and tomatoes indoors until you’re ready to transplant them outside.

9. Tampa, FL

Despite the heat, there’s plenty of vegetables and blooms you can grow in Tampa. Your growing season looks a little different as it runs from October to April to skip the heat. Start your indoor growing in seed trays for peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and they’ll thrive by the windowsill. On average, the temperature hovers around 74 degrees, providing plants with warm soil to grow. The Florida city has 16.3 gardening establishments per capita available to pick up all of the items you need.

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10. Wilmington, NC

With an average temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, Wilmington’s residents can work on their gardens year-round. Summer squash, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers can thrive outdoors starting around mid-April. A well-constructed garden bed, with the proper protection, can extend your vegetable garden well into winter with lettuce, chard and kale. Wilmington has both great gardening weather, as well as beautiful coastline and beaches. There are 15.5 gardening establishments per capita in Wilmington.

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