University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
WINNERS FOR 2014
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
Each year the best of the new
flowers, blooming the first year from seed, and new vegetables are
winners by the All-America Selections (AAS) program. These winners
are the result of trials across
North America, against existing cultivars (cultivated varieties)
exist. In this program, the new
introduction must show some new or improved trait.
There are two new AAS winning
flowers for 2014. Gaura ‘Sparkle White’
is sometimes known as “beeblossom” as it is attractive to bees so a
pollinator-friendly plant. From a lower
mound of foliage arch dainty stems, one to two feet long, and
flowers tinged with a pink blush. To me
they resemble white moths moving with the breeze. This improved
gaura has a uniform flowering
habit right through the summer, and blooms 10 to 12 weeks from
sowing. Plant it
among other flowers in beds or containers.
Generally grown as an annual, it may overwinter as a perennial where
temperatures are above -10 degrees (F) or USDA zone 6.
Petunia ‘African Sunset’ is the
second AAS winning flower for 2014. The
mounded, spreading plants reach one foot tall and about half again
as wide. Their main feature is the unique “designer”
orange color, a rare color among petunias.
This one begins bloom just over two months from sowing seeds, and
continues with many flowers through the summer.
In addition, for the first time this
year, regional winners have been named.
Although none are listed for the Northeast, most still should
fine here, depending on conditions. ‘Arabesque Red’
penstemon, or beard tongue, has upright spikes as its relatives, to
feet tall. On these through the season
are tubular red and white flowers, attractive to hummingbirds.
Although this one blooms from seeds the first
year, it is perennial in zone 6 or warmer.
It is the first penstemon to win in over 80 years of AAS trials, and
in several regions.
A new sunflower, ‘Suntastic Yellow
with Black Center’, was a Great Lakes regional winner. Its claims
flowering, repeat flowering (up to 3 times with 5 to 8 flowers each
low—only about two feet tall.
There were three AAS winning flowers
in 2013 which you should consider too for this year’s garden. Canna
‘South Pacific Scarlet’ is only the
second canna to be a winner since this program began in 1933, the
‘Tropical Rose’ in 1992. ‘South Pacific’
can reach 3 to 5 feet tall, with 6 to 7 flowering stems per plant,
scarlet. It blooms early, through much
of the summer and, like other cannas, this tender perennial
conditions as along pond edges.
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is a 2013
coneflower winner, the only other one being ‘PowWow Wild Berry’ in
2010. This selection is actually a mix, plants
coming in colors of purple, pink, orange, light yellow, cream, and
white. Even though a hardy perennial, this
coneflower will bloom the first year from seed.
Just allow plenty of time, though, from sowing to first flowers—24
a January sowing. Otherwise, you’ll need
to wait another year to see the flowers.
Geranium ‘Pinto Premium White to
Rose’ from 2013 is noted for its unique flower color—starting white
changing to rose. Also, its blooms are
earlier than many geraniums, large (to 5-inches across),
don’t need picking off when through bloom (“dead-heading”).
All these flowers grow best in
well-drained soils, and full sun. Keep well-fertilized after
planting. Ratings on how previous winners to this year,
and many other new flowers, have performed at our AAS display garden
Burlington waterfront can be found online
(pss.uvm.edu/ppp/aaswp.html). More All-America Selections, both
vegetables, can be found on their website