Steve Bender

Steve Bender, The Grumpy Gardener
Title: Editor-at-Large, Southern Living Magazine
Education: Washington College, Chestertown, MD; University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Location: Birmingham, AL
Expertise: Plants, Gardening Techniques, Pest Control, and Problem-Solving for Southern Gardens

Steve Bender is an award-winning author, editor, columnist, and speaker with nearly 40 years experience as Garden Editor, Senior Writer, and Editor-at-Large for Southern Living magazine. Known as The Grumpy Gardener, he is a highly respected expert on Southern gardening. Steve endeavors to make gardening fun and accessible to everyone no matter their skill level as he shares his horticultural wisdom with with Southerners and garden enthusiasts across the country.



  • 40 years' experience as a garden writer, editor, author, and hands-on gardener.
  • Author of The Grumpy Gardener (2017) and Passalong Plants (1994), Editor and Writer of The New Southern Living Garden Book (2015), The Southern Living Landscape Book (2000), and The Southern Living Garden Problem-Solver (1999).
  • Contributor to national gardening publications, including Old Farmer's Almanac.
  • Former board member at Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.
  • Steve is one of America's best-known garden writers, having honed his craft for more than 40 years authoring books and writing for magazines and newspapers. A sought-after speaker, he has appeared at many gardening symposia and events in such places as Walt Disney World, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, the Denver Botanical Garden, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Davidson College, Callaway Gardens, City Park in New Orleans, the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the Mobile Botanical Gardens, and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
  • Known as the Grumpy Gardener to his fans, he pens a monthly question-and-answer column by that name each month in Southern Living magazine that is one of its most popular features. The column began in 2008. To keep in closer touch with his readers, he also maintains a Facebook page with the same title that is updated frequently and promises that no gardening question asked goes unanswered. More than 40,000 people follow the page.
  • Awarded Henry Luce Award in 2014 and 2015 for producing Time Inc's best blog, The Grumpy Gardener. Garden Communication Award from the American Horticultural Society in 2005. Passalong Plants named best-written garden book of 1994 by the Garden Writers Association of America.


Steve attended Washington College in Chestertown, MD and the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

About Southern Living

Southern Living, a Dotdash Meredith Brand, celebrates the food, homes, places, and culture of the South. We reach 7.2 million readers a month. Our content is written by experienced journalists and fact checked for accuracy. Learn more about us and our editorial guidelines.

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