Eight new flower and four new vegetable varieties were given All-American Selection awards in 1999. To receive this award, the selection must possess unique or improved characteristics compared to existing varieties. The large number of award winners makes this year a great opportunity to try some new flower and vegetable varieties.
Below are brief descriptions of the 1999 All-American Selection recipients.
'Bonanza Bolero' Marigold
An attractive French marigold that has flowers of golden yellow splashed with red. Every bloom is slightly different. This is an improved dwarf marigold. The height of this beauty ranges from 8 -12 inches tall. It is also noted for its early bloom. Full sun will provide the best results. This wonderful annual also performs well in containers.
'Passion Mix' Osteospermum
This selection has daisy-like flowers of white, rose, pink, or purple with deep blue centers. These self-branching plants reach a height of 12 to 18 inches. Best results are obtained in full sun. However, 'Passion Mix' Osteospermum seems to lose a little steam during Iowa's hot summer, but perks up again in cooler weather.
'Sundial Peach' Portulaca
This was my favorite of all the selections this year. The plants were absolutely covered with peach colored, semi double blooms. So much that one had to look to find the foliage. This is the first portulaca to receive the AAS award. The flower size is 2 inches, which is a little larger than traditional moss rose. While the flowers on most portulacas close by early afternoon, the blooms of 'Sundial Peach' stay open longer. Full sun is once again recommended for best performance. It also requires a well-drained soil. Plants spread approximately 8 to 12 inches wide.
'Quartz Burgundy' Verbena
'Quartz Burgundy' produces large clusters of wine-red flowers. This, like the Osteospermum, stops blooming during periods of extreme heat. Plant height is 6 to 8 inches while spread is around 15 inches. 'Quartz Burgundy' performs best in the full sun in moist, well-drained soils. Because of its spreading habit, it adapts well to containers or hanging baskets.
'Profusion Cherry' and 'Profusion Orange' Zinnia
These zinnias were chosen as AAS Gold Medal winners, the highest honor given by the All-American selecting organization. Gold Medal awards are reserved for breakthroughs in breeding. Both zinnias exhibit excellent tolerance to foliar diseases such as powdery mildew. Plants were noted for blooming heavily until frost.
Single 2- to 3-inch flowers are produced on 12 to 18-inch tall plants. Deadheading is not essential, but is still recommended for best results. Ideal locations for these zinnias are full sun and well-drained soils.
'Pin Up Flame' Begonia
'Pin Up Flame' is the first begonia selected an AAS winner. ' Pin Up Flame' produces 2- to 4-inch, single flowers. The uniquely color flowers are yellow edged in orange/red. Shade is preferred by this selection. It needs to be planted in front as it attains a height of 10 to 12 inches.
'Flamenco' is a seed grown variety of torch lily or red-hot poker. The plant has long strap-like leaves. The flowers range in color from cream, orange, and yellow to red. Spikes can reach a height of 30 inches. Plants thrive in well-drained soil. Hummingbirds may be attracted to your garden with the addition of this selection.
'Eight Ball' Squash
The name does not describe how it tastes, rather the size and shape of this squash. 'Eight Ball' has a compact habit that gardeners with limited space can still grow. The spread of the plants is about 3 feet. If the fruit get a little too big, cut one in half, scoop out the inside, and use as a serving bowl for salads or dips.
This is a true miniature pumpkin weighing about 8 to 16 ounces. It possesses the typical round shape and bright orange color of a standard pumpkin. 'Wee-B-Little' require less space than most other varieties as their mature spread is only 6 to 8 feet. These pumpkins are also easy to grow from seed. Typically, one can expect fully mature pumpkins about 120 days after sowing the seeds. I'm sure this will become a favorite to grow.
These red, 1-ounce fruit have the shape of an elongated cherry tomato. The fruit are produced in grape-like clusters. 'Juliet' fruit is more crack resistant than other varieties and remains on the vine. The fruit matures in approximately 60 days.
'New Queen' Watermelon
The bright orange color of 'New Queen' will catch your eye when first opened. AAS Judges noted the sweet flavor and crisp texture of this watermelon. Fruit mature in about 75 days. Vines can spread up to nine feet so give 'New Queen' room to grow. Fruit sizes ranges from 5 to 6.5 pounds.
This article originally appeared in the February 5, 1999 issue, pp. 7-8.