University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Each year the best new flower and vegetable selections that bloom or fruit the first year from seeds are judged in the All-America Selections program. Those that are proven best across the country in trials as new, or an improvement over existing varieties, are given the coveted All-America Selections award. This year the winners include three flowers and one vegetable.

Fresh Look Gold Celosia, or plumed cockscomb, joins its fellow and previous winners Fresh Look Red and Yellow. Reaching about a foot high, and almost that across, its dense golden plumes last well through the season with no browning. These plumed celosia, and this series in particular, are some of my favorite annual flowers as they are carefree with virtually no pests or problems. Just give them some fertility (they are not as demanding as many new annual flowers), full sun, and a well-drained soil. If starting them from seed, figure about 110 days from sowing to first flowers.

Opera Supreme Pink Morn Petunia is one of the newer trailing types, with many smaller flowers (two inches or more wide). Flowers are bright pink with white centers, and a yellow deep center or “throat”. These three colors make it a “morn” type. These colors, with a silvery cast, are eye catching from a distance.

Plants of this petunia flower continuously, with no need to “deadhead” or remove spent flowers, or cut back as was needed with older selections. In good locations, a plant can cover three feet, at about six inches high, keeping down weeds and covered with flowers. They grow best in full sun and a well-drained soil. Figure on spacing plants about 18 inches to two feet apart, and sowing seeds about three months or more before flowering.

Pacifica Burgundy Halo is another vinca, or annual periwinkle, to win this award in recent years. Flowers are a gorgeous burgundy with contrasting white center, the first such color combination in this genus of flowers. This vinca also has early flowers, good branching, and in my north country trials flowered through the season. Many older vinca need lots of heat in order to flower well.

As with the other annual flowers, vinca needs full sun and a well-drained soil. This annual, however, is quite drought tolerant when established and needs less water. Keeping under a foot high, plants should be spaced about eight to ten inches apart. Figure about two months from sowing to first flowers.

Holy Molé pepper is the only vegetable award winner this year. It is a pasilla-type pepper, the type used to make molé sauce. It won over other selections being earlier to fruit, vigorous, and with a high yield of fruits. One reason for the high yields is the resistance bred into this selection to two common viruses that cause peppers to be shorter and with less fruit.

Immature green peppers can be harvested about three months from transplanting, and are seven to nine inches long. Left on the plant, the peppers turn a dark chocolate color. Their taste is nutty and tangy. With plants staying between one and two feet high, space them about two feet apart. Full sun and a well-drained soil are needed, and the hotter the site the better. Sow seeds indoors early in order to transplant larger plants outdoors, as they need about four months from sowing to flowering.

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