Winter News Article
Contact: Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
The All-America Selections is a national program of seed companies and trial sites to select the best of the new flower introductions each year. To be a winner, a flower must perform better in at least some way than other similar varieties, such as with improved color or disease resistance. And it must, among other requirements, perform well in most of the trial sites across the country.
Usually there are only a few winners chosen each year. However for 1999 there are eight flower winners, including among others a marigold, verbena, portulaca, and begonia.
Marigold 'Bonanza Bolero' is named after the twirling and stamping Spanish dance, as its flowers are a swirl of gold and mahogany red. These irregular flecks of red on a gold background set these flowers apart from other marigolds. Growing eight to 12 inches high, plants should be spaced eight to 10 inches apart. Just as with other marigolds, these are easy to grow from seeds, or you may purchase plants.
Verbena 'Quartz Burgundy' is improved over other varieties in its distinct dark burgundy wine red color flowers, its long flowering season, and its tolerance to powdery mildew disease-- the whitish disease covering leaves of many verbenas. As with other verbenas, this selection grows six to 10 inches high, and should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart. Although this plant grows best in full sun, it will tolerate some shade. A bit tricky to grow from seed, it may be best purchased from garden stores.
Portulaca 'Sundial Peach' is the first portulaca or moss rose to win the All-America designation. This is from its unique pastel coral color, longer bloom than most varieties, semi-double flowers that stand out from a distance, and heat tolerance. In the garden, these spreading plants grow six to eight inches high and should be spaced eight to 12 inches apart.
They also perform well in strawberry pots, terrace urns, or other patio containers. Try to locate them in a warm location, such as near pavement, on the south side of a building, or in a patio pot, for best performance. They are easily grown from seed or can be purchased.
Begonia 'Pin-Up Flame' has unusual single yellow flowers with orange/red petal edges. Plants form tubers, which can be dug up and overwintered. Or plants can be potted and brought indoors to overwinter indoors. Begonias are one of the few annuals that not only grow well in shade, but also need shade. Plants grow 10 to 12 inches high and should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart. Even during the wet 1998 season in Vermont they grew quite well in our advance trials of the new winners.
The very small seed, the size of dust, may be sold "pelleted" for ease of sowing. All this means is that each seed is coated with a covering (usually inert materials, fertilizer, and other ingredients) to make them bigger, easier to sow, and more reliable to germinate. Even with lighting, as from grow lamps for 16 hours a day, plants may take five months to grow, so may be best purchased.