Many gardeners enjoy leafing through seed catalogs during the winter months looking for new varieties for the garden. Because of the huge number of varieties available, choosing a few new additions can be difficult. Before making any selections, be sure to check out the All-America Selections for 2005.
Since 1933, All-America Selection judges have been evaluating new flower and vegetable varieties in trial gardens all across North America. Based on their outstanding performance, three annual flower varieties have been chosen as All-America Selections for 2005.
'Arizona Sun' (a blanket flower) produces 3-inch-diameter, red and yellow flowers. The daisy-like flowers have mahogany red centers and yellow-tipped petals. Plants grow 8 to 10 inches tall and have a compact, mounding growth habit. 'Arizona Sun' is suitable for sunny beds and borders.
Start seeds indoors in March for outdoor planting in May. Blanket flowers require full sun and well-drained soils. Once established, plants possess excellent heat and drought tolerance.
Left: Gaillardia aristata 'Arizona Sun'.
Right: Catharanthus roseus 'First Kiss Blueberry'
'First Kiss Blueberry' is the first blue-flowered vinca or periwinkle. The 2-inch-diameter flowers are violet blue with slightly darker eyes. Plants grow 10 to 12 inches tall. 'First Kiss Blueberry' is suitable for flower beds and containers.
Sow seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the intended outdoor planting date. Vinca seedlings are very sensitive to overwatering. To prevent problems, keep the seedlings on the dry side after germination. Vincas require full sun and well-drained soils. Plants possess excellent heat and drought tolerance. They also have few insect or disease problems.
Zinnia elegans 'Magellan Coral'
'Magellan Coral' is the final All-America Selection flower winner for 2005. 'Magellan Coral' produces double, 5- to 6-inch-diameter, coral pink flowers on 12- to 18-inch-tall plants. Other colors in the Magellan Series include cherry, scarlet, pink, salmon, orange, yellow, and ivory. Plants can be grown in large containers and flower beds.
Start seeds indoors 5 to 6 weeks before the intended outdoor planting date. They can also be directed seeded outdoors in May. Zinnias perform best in well-drained sites in full sun. Powdery mildew can be a problem, especially sites in partial shade or with poor air circulation. Overcrowding also creates conditions favorable for powdery mildew.
As you browse through the seed catalogs during the next few weeks, be sure to check out these award-winning selections.
This article originally appeared in the 1/14/2005 issue.