University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Winter News Article

New Flowers for 2006

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Each year new flower selections compete for the coveted All-America Selections (AAS) award.  There are seven winning flowers for 2006 including cultivars (cultivated varieties) of dianthus, diascia, flowering tobacco, ornamental pepper, salvia, viola, and zinnia. The AAS program provides a few tips on growing and using these, including full sun and well-drained soil.

'Supra Purple' is the dianthus winner, also known as China pinks.  It is noted for its many rosy-purple flowers with highly fringed edges, flowering over a long period.  They reach about a foot high and across.  Use them for color in fronts of perennial borders, in masses, in containers, or in rock gardens.  You can add flowers to salads, bouquets, or float some in water.  Sown indoors, this dianthus will flower in about 12 weeks.

'Diamonte Coral Rose' is a diascia, a genus with the same common name.  Relatively new and still unknown by many, this plant with tiny stems and leaves only gets about ten inches high, but may spread to a foot or more.  It has beautiful coral rose flowers, as the name indicates, which are under an inch in size.  They are tubular, with backward pointing spurs, and five lobes on the petals.  In my pre-release trials in Vermont last year they had a wonderful display all season in containers and raised beds.  They will flower about nine weeks after sowing.

'Perfume Deep Purple' is a new flowering tobacco, having the characteristic star-shaped flowers.  Unlike other similar cultivars it has a deep purple color and evening fragrance.  Plant it near walks, patios, windows, or raised beds where this fragrance can be enjoyed.  The plant grows about 18 inches high and wide.  This one too blooms about nine weeks after sowing.

'Black Pearl' is an ornamental pepper, and is the first such with black leaves and shiny black fruits--hence its name.  The lilac flowers produce the fruits, a half-inch or so across, which turn red as they mature.  This showy plant grows about a foot high and across in Vermont, perhaps more in warmer climates.  It is perhaps best used in fronts of borders, raised beds, and containers. Sow this one early as it takes about 5 months until the first fruits form.  And yes, they have a very hot taste.

'Evolution' is a new mealycup sage or salvia, the type that has a white hairy cast to the tall and thin flower spikes.  I find plants in Vermont got about 18 inches high and about half that across.  Although a new color, the first of its type with lilac flowers, I found plants did not bloom nearly as well as the similar 'Victoria Blue' and had poorer leaves.  Native to Texas, such salvia cultivars do best in hot summers.  Plants can be grown in masses, in pots, or used for cutting.   It flowers about three months after sowing.

'Skippy XL Red-Gold' is the first such viola to win an AAS award.  Flowers are large and rounded, similar to a pansy, about one and one-half inches across.  They are ruby red with violet red shading below the characteristic golden "face" with "whiskers".  Getting about six inches high and wide, it should be massed for the best display either in beds or containers.  Sow about ten weeks before you want flowers to appear.

'Zowie Yellow Flame' is a new semi-tall zinnia (about two feet high).  It is noted for its unique bicolor flowers, scarlet rose in the center with yellow petal edges.  There is even a hint of bright purple in the red centers, making them really "flame".  As with most zinnias this one is easy to grow, blooms all season, and makes a good cut flower.  It will flower about eight weeks after sowing.  It may be sown directly in the garden, but I like to start them indoors about four weeks before planting outside to get a jump on the season.

To become an AAS winner, new flower cultivars (cultivated varieties) must be superior to similar existing ones.  They must also bloom the first year from seed.  This means most are annual flowers, as are this year's winners.  The AAS winners may not be available in many garden stores, so to make sure you have them you may need to sow them yourself.  Seeds are available from catalogs and in many complete garden store seed displays.

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