Eight new flower cultivars have been selected as All-America Selection award winners for 2002. To receive this award, each selection must possess unique or improved characteristics compared to existing cultivars. The large number of award winners makes this year a great opportunity to try some new flower cultivars. Below are brief descriptions of the All-America Selection flower winners for 2002.
Geranium 'Black Magic Rose'
The distinctive feature of 'Black Magic Rose' is its unique foliage. Each leaf has a chocolate brown center with a green edge. (The dark brown color is most pronounced in the cool weather of spring and late summer.) The dark foliage serves as a backdrop to rose-colored flowers. Plants grow approximately 10 to 14 inches tall and 14 to 18 inches wide. Like other garden geraniums, 'Black Magic Rose' performs best in partial to full sun and moist well-drained soils. It can be grown in beds, borders, and containers.
Vinca 'Jaio Scarlet Eye'
This vinca, or rose periwinkle, has vibrant rose-scarlet flowers with small white eyes. The 2-inch flowers cover the plants from late spring to frost. Plants commonly grow 12 inches tall with a spread of 6 to 8 inches. Vincas perform best in full sun. They possess excellent heat and drought tolerance. Avoid wet, poorly drained sites. 'Jaio Scarlet Eye' would be a welcome addition to beds, borders, and containers.
Cleome 'Sparkler Blush'
If you are looking for a cleome that isn't quite as large, but still provides a good show of color all season long, this cultivar is for you. 'Sparkler Blush' is the first hybrid dwarf cleome with a height and width of approximately 3 feet. Plants produce clusters of pink and white flowers. Because of its smaller size, gardeners with limited garden space will find it easier to incorporate 'Sparkler Blush' into beds and borders. 'Sparkler Blush' is heat and drought tolerant performing best in sunny, fertile locations.
Ornamental Pepper 'Chilly Chili'
'Chilly Chili' is an ornamental pepper with attractive "family friendly" fruit. As the cultivar name suggests, the fruit of 'Chilly Chili' are not hot, making this ornamental pepper perfect for households with inquisitive young children. The 2-inch peppers mature from yellow to orange, and ultimately red. Plants grow about 12 inches tall with a spread of 6-12 inches.
Pansy 'Ultima Morpho'
Named after the Morpho butterfly with the same colors, 'Ultima Morpho' possesses blue and yellow bicolored flowers. Plants grow 5 to 8 inches tall and can spread 5 to 10 inches wide. Most pansies, including 'Ultima Morpho' perform best in cool weather. They should be planted in early spring or late summer. Best planting sites are those with moist, well-drained soils in partial sun. 'Ultima Morpho' can be used in beds, borders, and containers.
Petunia 'Lavender Wave'
'Lavender Wave' is the latest introduction in the Wave Series. Like other members in the series, 'Lavender Wave' has a trailing, ground cover habit with a profusion of blooms similar to 1992 AAS selection 'Purple Wave'. When planted in a full sun location, 'Lavender Wave' spreads 3 or more feet and reaches a height of only 4 to 6 inches. Wave petunias are relatively maintenance free. They don't require pinching or deadheading. They are also heat and drought tolerant. Its spreading habit makes 'Lavender Wave' an excellent annual groundcover. It can also be planted in containers.
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Silver'
In trials across North America, 'Tidal Wave Silver' received rave reviews. The silvery white blooms have a dark purple center and provide season long color. The height of the plants can be manipulated to suit the needs of the grower. If spaced 6 inches apart, plants may grow 18 to 24 inches tall. Widely spaced plants (18 to 24 inches apart) develop into a spreading ground cover that may grow 8 to 12 inches tall with a spread of three feet or more. 'Tidal Wave Silver' blooms continuously through the summer without the need to pinch or deadhead. Petunias perform best in partial to full sun in well-drained soils. 'Tidal Wave Silver' can be grown as a groundcover or planted in hanging baskets or other containers.
Rudbeckia 'Cherokee Sunset'
This AAS award recipient produces semi-double to double flowers in shades of yellow, orange, bronze, and mahogany. Some flowers may be single and not double or semi-double. The 3 to 4 inch flowers are produced on 24 to 30 inch tall plants. Consistent flowering has been noted on these full sun-loving plants. Plants may overwinter in northern gardens.
As you browse through the seed catalogs and visit garden centers, be sure to look for and try some of these award-winning selections.
This article originally appeared in the January 18, 2002 issue, pp. 4-5.