University of Vermont
Department of Plant and Soil Science

gmg logo   Winter/Spring News Articleline


Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor Emeritus
University of Vermont

Each year the best of the new annual flowers (those that only live for one year) are judged, and the winners given the All-America Selections (AAS) designation. This year’s annual flower winners, grown from seeds, include a wax-leaf begonia, an American marigold, a nasturtium, and a new Wave petunia. 

Begonia Viking XL Red on Chocolate is a wax leaf begonia, with large dark bronze (hence the “chocolate” name) leaves and red flowers through the summer.  Under good conditions it can form a mound 30 inches or so high and wide, so space plants apart about this distance.  Or, it can be grown in a large container.  The main feature of this begonia is its glossy dark foliage through the season, which is darker than similar begonias.  Plants bloom best in full to part sun.

Big Duck Gold is a new marigold—the type often called African, American, Mexican (from where this type was originally found), or Aztec marigold.  The three-inch wide gold flowers are held on top of the compact, 15-inch plants through the season—longer than comparable marigolds.  Leaves are a nice, deep green.  Similar to other marigolds, and most annual flowers, this one needs full sun to grow and bloom best.  Space plants 15 to 18 inches apart, and use them as a mini hedge along walks, massed in beds, mixed in with perennials for color all summer, or in containers.

Baby Rose is a new nasturtium—the first All-America Selections winner of this flower since the 1930s.  Some nasturtiums are trailing and vining, but most are compact and mounding, such as this one.  Space plants about 18 inches apart, in full to part sun.  Their rose-colored flowers are a less common color for nasturtiums.  Flowers bloom all summer and, unlike many nasturtiums, don’t hide among the dark green leaves but are seen above them.  This selection tolerates heat to cold, rain to drought, and wind.  An added bonus, similar to other nasturtiums, are the edible leaves and flowers (great in salads). Baby Rose would be a good choice for small spaces and containers.

Wave Carmine Velour petunia is the newest color in the popular Wave series.  The bright velvety carmine rose flowers are two inches, or more, wide and cover the plants through the season.  Similar to many newer petunias, spent flowers don’t need removing (“deadheading”), as old ones just fade and drop and are covered by new flowers.  Similar to other Wave petunias this one spreads, only getting about six to eight inches tall, but spreading to three feet wide or more.  This makes it good in masses, as a groundcover, interplanted among taller plants, or in hanging baskets and raised containers where it can spill over the sides.  If in landscape beds, space plants about two feet apart.  As with other petunias, site this one in full to part sun.  Wave petunias are so popular that they have their own website for care tips, combinations, and design ideas (

You can find more All-America Selections winners, information on them, and sources, from their website (  If you’re unsure what to grow in your garden this season, or want to try some new crops or varieties, these are a good place to start.  Many won’t be available as plants locally, so plan to order seeds and enjoy sowing and growing them yourself.

Return to Perry's Perennial Pages: Green Mountain Gardener Articles-- your reliable source of gardening information for over 50 years.