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Good Growing

New plants for a new year - try growing something new in 2021

2021 All-American Selections winners

Out with the old and in with the new. A new year means the garden catalogs are starting to arrive and that it’s time to start planning this year’s garden. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a veteran gardener, consider growing something new this year in your garden.

If you’ve listened to the Good Growing Podcast, you know that my family and I try to grow something new every year, whether it be a new cultivar or a completely new type of plant. Last year (2020), it was cotton and peanuts. While perusing the garden catalogs this year, we’ve come up with many possibilities (it’s probably a good thing we don’t have a giant yard).

If you’re a little apprehensive about growing something new and unusual, consider growing one of the new All-American Selections Winners. All-American Selections (AAS) is an independent, non-profit organization that trials new, unreleased plant varieties at different trial sites across the U.S. and Canada. Independent judges compare entries to plants that have already been introduced and evaluate these new plants on many different qualities. After the trials, the performers are designated AAS Winners for their superior performance. For 2021 there were five winners:

Kelos® Candela Pink Celosia is a Reginal winner that produces bright pink blooms that are 10-15 inches tall. These long-lasting blooms (lasting two months longer than some of the comparison cultivars) are a great choice for filler plants in planters or as a mass planting in borders. As an additional bonus, the flowers also make great dried flowers. They are only available in plant form.

Echalion Creme Brulee (BGS-270) is also a regional winner and is the first shallot named an AAS winner. This shallot is easy to peel and have a bright coppery pink outer skin and a pretty rosy-purple interior with thick rings. They mature earlier than their comparisons. They have a slightly citrus flavor when eaten raw and have a sweet flavor when caramelized.

If you want to grow jalapeno peppers, but you don’t have a lot of room, Pot-a-peno Pepper may be the plant for you. These plants have a dense, compact growth habit, only reaching 12-15 inches tall, making them a great choice for container gardening. Their fruit ripens earlier than other jalapenos, 45-50 days for green, and 60-65 days for red.

Goldilocks F1 Acorn Squash produces four-inch, one-pound fruits that have a rich nutty flavor. These bright orange fruits not only taste great but can also be used as an ornamental decoration. These bushy, compact plants will grow to 4-5 feet wide. As an added bonus, they have tolerance to powdery mildew.

Finally, and certainly not least, is Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor Zinnia. This zinnia is an AAS Gold Medal Award winner. Gold medals are only given out once or twice a decade, so you know this plant is special. This zinnia starts the season with golden-yellow flowers that have a vibrant red center. As they age, they transition to shades of apricot, salmon, and dusty rose. So, no need to deadhead! The plant will continue to produce new 2.5 inch blooms throughout the season on 8-14 inch tall plant.

To see a list of all of the winners dating back to 1932, visit the All-American Selections website at


Good Growing Tip of the Week: According to a recent survey, 86% of people indicated they plan on gardening the same amount or more in 2021. If you’re going to be ordering seeds this year, it may be a good idea to get them ordered early. Last year (2020), many companies ran low on, or ran out, of seeds.


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Photos and plant descriptions courtesy of All-American Selections.