University of Illinois Extension

All-America Selections 2007

Three new flowers, recommended for 2007 by All-America Selections (AAS), might be just the thing to consider over the winter for next spring’s garden, said Greg Stack, U of I Extension horticulturist.

“New introductions are being made all the time by seed companies,” said Stack. “The All-America Selections organization runs trials on these new plants and determines which are the best.”

celosiaThe ‘Fresh Look Gold’ celosia is the first of the three recommendations, he noted. It provides gardeners with 12-inch tall plants that look as good in September as they did in the spring when planted.

“The bright yellow plumes remain colorful all season and don’t turn brown as older varieties do,” he said. “This results in little need to deadhead or remove old flowers. ‘Fresh Look Gold’ is heat, humidity, and rain tolerant, giving you an annual that will provide season-long performance.”

‘Pacifica Burgundy Halo’ vinca is the second winner.

“It is the first vinca with a rich burgundy halo surrounding a large white center,” Stack explained. “This vinca has proven heat and drought tolerance and is a proven performer in a full-sun garden location.

“The bright, glossy green leaves provide a nice backdrop for the flowers. The 12-inch tall plants require no pinching to maintain a nice, neat shape. It is excellent for the garden as well as containers.”

A petunia, “but not just any petunia,” Stack noted, is the final 2007 winner. ‘Opera Supreme Pink Morn’ is a vigorous, trailing petunia. In the garden as ground cover it grows to four to six inches tall and spreads out two to three feet.

Petunia“It is excellent along retaining walls, tumbling over the side displaying two-inch flowers that are pink shading to white with a yellow throat. This petunia does well in full sun and is also excellent in a hanging basket,” said Stack.

Next year is also the 75th anniversary of AAS and provides a good opportunity to bring out some classic past winners which have stood the test of time, providing another opportunity to fill the garden with color.

‘Ideal Violet’ dianthus, a 1992 winner, was selected for “classic” status because of its heat and cold tolerance. In northern gardens, “Ideal Violet” deserves a place in the early spring garden while thriving nicely as the weather warms up and turns hot. It grows to 12 inches in height with purple, violent blooms. It is highly recommended for containers.

“In 1988, ‘Ultra Crimson Star’ was given AAS’s first bedding plant award,” said Stack. “This award is based upon a flower’s performance in the greenhouse as well as in the garden. It has large--three- to four-inch--flowers that are crimson and have a consistent and very prominent white star pattern on them.

“This petunia flowers freely all summer, showing off its flamboyant blooms.”
‘Wave Purple’ petunia also has to be counted as a classic.

“Unlike any other petunia at the time it was introduced, its vigorous horizontal growth made it one of the leading annual flowering groundcovers,” Stack noted. “With stems reaching three feet and more and constantly in bloom, ‘Wave Purple’ changed the way we looked at petunias.”

Finally, Stack recommended the ‘Majestic Giant’ pansy. Introduced in 1966, this pansy has stood the test of time.

“The four-inch blooms sport the traditional ‘pansy face’ and have been enjoyed by four generations of gardeners,” he said. Because ‘Majestic Giant’ does not require cool temperatures to start flowering, it is a pansy that can be enjoyed by gardeners living in the Deep South. These classics, he added, “are worthy of being reintroduced into the garden for a new generation of gardeners.”