University of Illinois Extension

All-America Selections for 2010

Each year, All America Selections (AAS) introduces new annual flowers that are seen as unique and have proven themselves superior in replicated test gardens in the United States and Canada, said Greg Stack, a University of Illinois Extension horticulturist.

"New for 2010 are Gaillardia 'Mesa Yellow', Snapdragon 'Twinny Peach' and Zinnia 'Zahara Startlight Rose'," said Stack.

"Recently, AAS has changed its policy in the way new varieties will be introduced. So, when a new variety meets the criteria for introduction and AAS approves, the new variety will be introduced immediately. Previously, there was a one year lag between AAS designation and introduction."

Snapdragon 'Twinny Peach', Gaillardia 'Mesa Yellow', and Zinnia 'Zahara Starlight Rose' were all introduced last September, 2009 and are available to gardeners this spring. But, with the changes, gardeners can look forward to four more AAS winners for 2010. "So, get ready to make room in the garden for some new and exciting introductions," he noted.

Echinacea (coneflower) 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' (the name itself just makes you want to go and buy it) is the first of the new introductions.

"This purple coneflower differs from all the others because of its color, branching habit and size," said Stack. "The deep rose-purple 3-4 inch flowers retain their color longer and remain on the plant longer. This first-year, flowering from seed perennial is hardy to zone 3.

"It also branches from the base and as a result produces more flowers per plant. Growing to about 20-24 inches tall this coneflower blooms continuously without deadheading. Like all Echinacea 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' prefers a full sun garden location and soil that is well-drained."

Second on the new list of winners is a marigold called 'Moonsong Deep Orange'. The intense, deep orange, fade resistant flowers is what caught the judges' eyes. Flowers are large at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches and fully double. While 'Moonsong Deep Orange' is a vigorous grower, it will only reach 12-15 inches tall making it great for container gardening. Another feature is that old blooms are covered over by new foliage resulting in neat looking plants that don't need deadheading. 'Moonsong Deep Orange' should be planted in a full sun site for best performance.

"Rounding out the new additions to the 2010 list are two zinnias that are the result of breeding work on the Zahara series of zinnias," he said.

Zinnia 'Double Zahara Cherry' and 'Double Zahara Fire' bring to the garden excellent garden performance of the original 'Zahara Fire and 'Zahara Cherry' but with fully double 2 1/2 inch flowers. Both of these zinnias are outstanding in their performance in the garden as they both have excellent resistance to leaf spot and powdery mildew, two very troublesome leaf diseases common to zinnia.

"Both of these new zinnias grow to 12-14 inches tall and do best in full sun. They are also very easy to grow from seed, making them great choices for even first time gardeners," he said.

"With these latest introductions the number of 2010 AAS winners grows to seven. Look for them at the garden center and try a few. You won't be disappointed."