DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – The All-America Selections (AAS) Board of Directors approved two flowering plants from previous trials as the first two winners for the 2013 gardening season. The second batch of winners, in a sign of the continuing trend in the home garden market, features three plants from the vegetable category, even though two are classified botanically as fruits, and one is debatably a fruit. A fourth winner, a geranium, is always a garden-favorite.
Each of these winners was trialed next to two or three other similar varieties that are currently on the market. The AAS judges grew each entry, and then did a side-by-side analysis of growth habit, taste, disease resistance and additional characteristics to determine if these were truly better than those already available to home gardeners. Only those entries with superior garden performance (and taste, for edibles) are granted the honor of an AAS Award.
Canna 'South Pacific Scarlet' F1, AAS Flower Award Winner
Allow ‘South Pacific’ to add a touch of the tropics to your garden with showy, 4-inch flowers that bloom all summer long in a delicious shade of scarlet.
AAS judges raved about this first F1 hybrid canna from seed because it is such a floriferous bloomer. ‘South Pacific’ grows up 4 to 5 feet tall and 12 to 18 inches wide, providing a great grouping of specimen plants or a back-of-the-border focal point. The colorful blooms are produced on a flower spike held above the large leafed statuesque plants.
Home gardeners will love the robust nature and the many flower-laden branches it produces. ‘South Pacific’ boasts six to seven stems per plant and delivers larger flowers than other seed cannas. The scarlet flowers appear early, bloom consistently all summer and withstand a light frost better than comparisons. As with other cannas, ‘South Pacific’ tolerates wet conditions so it can be used as a pond border or in other similar growing conditions. It requires full sun, spacing of 18 to 24 inches, and will take 11 to 12 weeks from seed to flower.
Canna is a perennial but can be treated as an annual by northern gardeners. Rhizomes can be dug before first frost and stored properly for the next season. Good in Zones 7 to 10. Bred by Takii & Co. Ltd.
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit,’ AAS Flower Award Winner
This stunning first-year flowering echinacea captures the spirit of the North American plains by producing a delightful mix of flower colors from rich purple, pink, red and orange tones to lighter yellows, creams and white. This wide range of flower colors on well branched, durable plants is sure to please the color preferences of any gardener. As an added bonus, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ does not require a lot of water and offers a wide-range of uses from the perennial border, in a mass landscape planting, in a butterfly garden or as a cut flower.
The plant grows to a height of 26 to 32 inches, with a width of 25 to 30 inches. The flowers will measure 3 to 3 1/2 inches. It requires full sun and a garden spacing of about 24 inches. It will flower from 22 to 24 weeks after sowing.
The AAS judges and their trial garden visitors raved about the attractiveness of the flowers and the range of colors while appreciating its sturdiness and low water needs. Even during wind and rain, this compact plant does not topple over like many echinacea. The variety of intense, bright colors adds sparkle to the garden from mid-summer through fall. As an added bonus, this maintenance-free echinacea doesn’t need deadheading to provide summer long beauty. Bred by Kieft Seed
Geranium ‘PintoTM Premium White to Rose’ F1, AAS 2013 Bedding Plant Award Winner
This addition to the PintoTM Premium series is a must-have. Not only is the flower coloration of white changing to rose unique and ombre-like, but the numerous 5-inch blooms are long-lasting and slightly earlier than similar varieties. The judges liked how full and dense the plants are with well-branched stems sporting leaves with beautiful dark green zone coloration. The 2012 trials were tough because of extreme heat but ‘Pinto Premium White to Rose’ performed extremely well making it a great choice for landscapers or gardeners wanting a carefree, colorful summer garden. Bred by Syngenta Flowers Inc.
Melon ‘Melemon’ F1, AAS 2013 Vegetable Award Winner
The earliness, high yield on healthy, strong plants, and superior taste all contributed to this melon becoming an AAS Winner. Judges related the taste of this melon to honeydew but with a surprising and delicious tanginess. A uniform fruit shape makes it perfect for market growers as well as home gardeners. Each personal-sized fruit has refreshing crisp flesh and a unique sweet and tart taste. Bred by Known-You Seed Co. Ltd.
Tomato, Cherry ‘Jasper’ F1, AAS 2013 Vegetable Award Winner
Excellent taste, a long harvest window and outstanding performance in the trials contributes to this tomato’s success. Judges liked the texture and sweetness of the tomato as well as the uniformity of the fruits that grow on vigorous, healthy plants. ‘Jasper’ is a high-yielding variety with fruits that stay on the vine then hold well after ripening both on the vine and post-harvest. Vigorous vines require little or no fertilization. An added bonus is high disease resistance to Late Blight, Fusarium races 1, 2 and Early Blight plus the ability to overcome weather-related stresses. Bred by Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Watermelon ‘Harvest Moon’ F1, AAS 2013 Vegetable Award Winner
The first ever hybrid, triploid seedless watermelon to win a coveted AAS Award. Similar to the popular heirloom variety, ‘Moon and Stars,’ ‘Harvest Moon’ is an improvement in that it features healthy, shorter vines that produce medium-sized fruits and sweet, crisp pinkish-red flesh. ‘Harvest Moon’ retains the familiar dark green rind with yellow dots, but is seedless, earlier to ripen, higher yielding and better tasting. This high-value item is great for bedding plant growers as a transplant item. Bred by Seeds By Design.
More details on each winner can be found on the AAS Winners web page. All-America Selections was founded in 1932 and continues as the oldest independent plant testing organization in North America. Every year, never-before-sold varieties are trialed in the group’s trial grounds where professional horticulturists determine which varieties will be deemed winners based on their garden performance. AAS Winners are announced three times a year.
With this announcement, these varieties become available for immediate sale. Brokers and growers can purchase these varieties immediately. Consumers will find this seed for sale in the coming months as supply becomes available with catalog companies, in seed packets, from mail order companies and various websites. AAS Winners will also become available as young plants in lawn & garden retail stores next spring.
As with all AAS Winners, these new, never-before-sold entries were trialed by the esteemed AAS trial judges who are trained and experienced horticulture professionals. A complete list of judges and trial sites can be found on the AAS Website.
The winners will be on display during summer 2013 at almost 200 AAS Display Gardens across North America. To find an AAS Display Garden near you, use this link to the AAS website.