All-America Selections Winners for 2017

All-America Selections has announced the winners for 2017. Look for the red, white and blue logo of All-America Selections on seed packets in retail stores, plant tags in bedding plants in garden centers or nurseries, or in mail-order catalogs this spring. Success is almost guaranteed with these varieties of reliable new flower and vegetable varieties. Some cultivars are designated as AAS Regional Winners, but most are National Winners.

The non-profit All-America Selections (AAS) organization was founded in 1932 to foster the development, production and distribution of new and better horticultural and agricultural varieties, species, strains and kinds in and for North America. AAS winners are superior new annual flower and vegetable plants recognized for significant achievements – a promise of gardening success. Only the very best varieties receive this prestigious award. All AAS winners have been tested for home garden performance in more than 60 independent test sites, each under the responsibility of an AAS judge, all over the United States and Canada. Gardeners can rely on AAS Winners to perform in their garden because of these unbiased, independent tests. Most of the time only one to three flower varieties and the same number of vegetables get this award each year, and sometimes none qualifies. This year there are sixteen winners, with twelve National Winners (7 flowers and 5 vegetables) and four Regional Winners (only the one flower and one vegetable that are appropriate for the Great Lakes Region are included here).

The National AAS winners for 2017 are:

AAS Flower Award Winner: Celosia ‘Asian Garden’

Celosia ‘Asian Garden’

Celosia ‘Asian Garden’

This spiked beauty claimed victory in North America’s trial sites to become the first ever AAS Winner from Japanese breeding company Murakami Seed. The judges gave this entry high marks in the greenhouse for the good branching, almost bushy growth habit and early to bloom flower spikes.
In the garden, ‘Asian Garden’ celosia continued to bloom on sturdy stems, keeping the bright pink color all summer long, holding up even through some of the first frosts of the season. The AAS Judges commented on the fact that this celosia was a pollinator-magnet, making this AAS Winner a sure bet for pollinator-friendly gardens.

Celosia argentea
Common name: Celosia
Light needs: Full sun
Water needs: Dry to normal
Deadheading: No
Staking: No
Foliage color: Dark green
Plant habit: Upright
Plant height: 31-40”
Garden spacing: 12-15 inches
Bloom time: Late spring to frost
Bloom color: Rose
Bloom size: 0.6” dia., 1.5” long
Weather Tolerance: Drought, heat
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Closest comparisons on market:
Flamingo


AAS Flower Award Winner: Dianthus ‘Supra Pink’

Dianthus ‘Supra Pink’

Dianthus ‘Supra Pink’

Supra Pink joins its sister, 2006 AAS Winner Supra Purple, to give us two fantastic colors in an easy-to-grow interspecific dianthus for three-season (spring, summer, fall) garden color. This compact, bushy plant blooms prolifically with novel mottled pink flowers sporting frilly petal edges that hold up even in summer heat and drought. No deadheading needed on this winner. One judge attempted to deadhead this entry but it re-bloomed too fast to do so! Supra Pink grows to just under a foot in height but is a vigorous grower and will deliver fancy, clear pink flowers for a long time as observed over and over by the AAS Judges. Supra Pink was tested as an annual and won the award based on first-year performance, but similar to other dianthus, it may overwinter in some regions. Dianthus Supra will do best in a porous, well-draining soil that is high in organic matter, like compost or peat. Garden location should be in full sun to partial shade – they will survive and flower in shade, but not as well as when in more sun. As they flower, it is a good idea to dead-head, or remove spent flowers to prevent seed formation and encourage more flowers faster. In very cold winter areas, it may be helpful to provide a layer of mulch around the plant to help it survive the cold.

Dianthus hybrid
Common name: Dianthus
Light needs: Full to partial sun
Water needs: Normal
Deadheading: Yes
Staking: No
Foliage color: Light green
Plant habit: Compact, bushy
Plant height: 10-12”
Garden spacing: 10-12”
Bloom time: Spring to frost
Bloom color: Mottled pink
Bloom size: 1.5 inches
Fragrance: Slight
Weather Tolerance: Drought, cold, frost, rain, wind
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes, bees and butterflies
Low Edging: Yes
Closest comparisons on market:
Supra Purple, Elegance Pink


AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Fennel ‘Antares’

Fennel ‘Antares’

Fennel ‘Antares’

This winner is a “First in Class,” as AAS has never before trialed and declared a fennel an AAS Winner. What is extremely fun about this winning plant is its many uses: as an edible bulb; for its ornamental fronds; as a seed producer; and as a favorite food of pollinators, namely swallowtail caterpillars. The AAS Judges described Antares as a very uniform, pure white, beautiful plant with a much improved, almost sweet, licorice/anise flavor as compared to other market varieties. It was also 7-10 days slower to bolt than comparison varieties. Many AAS Judges said they plan to plant this easy-to-grow fennel in their own gardens next year!

Foeniculum vulgare
Common name: bulb fennel
Light needs: Full sun
Water needs: Normal
Season Type: Warm season
Staking: No
Foliage color: Green
Plant habit: Bushy
Plant height: 24 inches
Garden spacing: 6 inches apart
Days to harvest: 68 (seed)
Fruit Color (Harvest): White bulb
Fruit Size: 4-5 inches
Fruit Flavor Description: Sweet, licorice/anise flavor
Number Of Fruits Per Plant: 1
Container: Yes
Closest comparisons on market:
Orion, Preludio


AAS Ornamental Vegetative Award Winner: Geranium Calliope® Medium Dark Red

Geranium Calliope® Medium Dark Red

Geranium Calliope® Medium Dark Red

With an outstanding deep red velvety flower color and great branching habit, Calliope® was unmatched in the AAS Trials when compared to other market varieties. Calliope® Medium Dark Red geranium is an interspecific hybrid with zonal-type flowers and leaves. This AAS Winner has a mounded, semi-spreading growth habit with strong stems supporting the flower heads that are loaded with deep red blossoms. These plants work great in containers, combination plantings, hanging baskets as well as in an in-ground landscape. Gardeners will enjoy exceptional landscape performance in normal conditions as well as in more challenging high heat and drought conditions.

Pelargonium hybrid
Light needs: Full sun
Water needs: Drought tolerant
Deadheading: Yes
Staking: No
Foliage color: Dark green
Plant habit: Mounded
Plant height: 12-14”
Garden spacing: 14-16”
Bloom time: Spring to frost
Bloom color: Red
Bloom size: 3.25 inches
Weather Tolerance: Drought, heat
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Closest comparisons on market:
‘Big Easy Dark Red’, Calliope® Dark Red


AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Okra ‘Candle Fire’

Okra ‘Candle Fire’

Okra ‘Candle Fire’

A unique red okra with pods that are round, not ribbed, and a brighter red color than the reddish burgundy okras currently available. This high-performing AAS Winner received high marks for productivity, taste, texture and tenderness as well as the ornamental value of red pods on red stems. One judge noted that Candle Fire okra was quite maintenance free to grow, except for the frequent harvesting, which is a great thing! Candle Fire thrives in the heat and is disease resistant even in hot humid climates like the south where it’s perfect for traditional fried okra. Suitable for both fruit producing and ornamental use. Aged fruit can be used in flower arrangements. Dry seed can be used as coffee (without caffeine.) Plant requires soil with high organic matter content. Sandy and clay soil should be avoided. The cultivation environment should be about 68-95F degrees, sunny and with good ventilation. Direct seed sowing or seedling transplanting are both recommended. The seeds should be soaked with water for 12 hours before being sown, which is the necessary process to enhance germination. For home gardener, pruning is not necessary. With proper irrigation, this variety is easy to be managed because it is not susceptible to any special disease. Flower formation starts 50 days after sowing. The fruit can be harvested in 5-7 days after flowering. After the plant starts to bloom, every 10 days it should be supplied with water and fertilizer so as to ensure long-term harvest.

Abelmoschus esculentus
Common name: okra
Light Needs: Full sun
Water Needs: Normal
Season Type: Warm season
Staking Required: No
Plant Habit: Upright
Plant Height: 4 feet
Bloom Time: Summer to frost
Bloom Color: Rose
Bloom Size: Diameter 0.6 inches, length 1.5 inches
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Weather Tolerance: Drought, heat
Garden Spacing: 18 inches
Days To Harvest (Sowing Seed): 60
Days To Harvest (Transplant): 30
Plant Spread: 24-28 inches
Closest comparisons on market:
Carmine Splendor, Red Burgundy


AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Pepper ‘Mad Hatter’

Pepper ‘Mad Hatter’

Pepper ‘Mad Hatter’

This exotic pepper wins on uniqueness alone! However, the plant’s vigor, earliness, high yields, large size and awesome taste all contribute to its high score among AAS judges. Mad Hatter is a member of the Capsicum baccatum pepper species from South America commonly used in Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine. You can impress your friends by growing this pepper and showing off the novel three-sided shape and deliciously sweet taste. The taste has a refreshing, citrusy floral flavor that remains sweet, only occasionally expressing mild heat near the seeds. Be prepared for vigorous and robust plants that are easy to grow because they were bred for North America’s many growing conditions. Use your abundant harvest raw in salads, pickled or stuffed with cheese…a new favorite!

Capsicum baccatum
Common name: Bishops crown pepper
Season Type: Warm season
Light Needs: Full sun
Water Needs: Normal
Plant habit: Bushy
Garden spacing: 2-3 feet
Days to harvest (transpl): 65 to 70 mature green; 85 to 90 ripe red
Fruit color (harvest): Red
Fruit Shape: Flattened-disc shaped fruit has lobes or wings
Fruit Size: 2-3.5” by 2-2.5”
Fruit Weight: 1.4-1.7 ounces
Fruit Flavor Description: Fruit has a delicate floral scent and rich flavor that intensifies and sweetens as it matures.
# Fruits/Plant: 40-50
Closest comparisons on market:
‘Balloon’, ‘Bishops Crown’


AAS Vegetable Award Winner: Tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’

Tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’

Tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’

Patio Choice Yellow is a new compact, determinate tomato developed specifically for small spaces and container gardens. This AAS Winner produces very large yields of 1/2 ounce bright yellow cherry tomatoes on short vines that grow only 18 inches tall. This mild flavored cherry tomato sets over 100 fruit on compact plants which are perfect for urban or small space food gardeners. Consider using these beautiful tomatoes either fresh or in the oven or sun dried for a deliciously sweet treat. For even easier picking, plant in a hanging basket.

Solanum lycopersicum
Common name: Tomato
Season Type: Warm season
Plant habit: Compact determinate
Plant Spread: 18-20 inches
Garden spacing: 12-15”
Days to harvest (transpl): 45
Fruit color (harvest): Gold yellow
Fruit Shape: Round cherry
Fruit Size: 1 inches
Fruit Weight: 0.5 ounces
Fruit Flavor Description: Mild sweet with a touch of acid
# Fruits/Plant: 100+
Disease Resistance or Tolerance: TMV, Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt
Closest comparisons on market:
‘Little Sun Yellow’, ‘Honeybee ’


AAS Flower Award Award Winner: Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor

Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor

Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor

EnduraScape™ is described as “tough as nails” because it is the first verbena that can tolerate drought and heat plus survive cooler temperatures down to the low teens. This long-blooming pink bicolor verbena is spectacular in the landscape, edging a walkway or border as well as in large containers and baskets.

Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor

Verbena EnduraScape™ Pink Bicolor

Vigorous plants are sturdy spreaders that pop with abundant soft pink blossoms that darken in intensity toward the center of the bloom. Pink Bicolor is the newest color in the series and the AAS Judges deemed it truly spectacular! Plant in full sun in large containers or in the ground about 18″ apart. Avoid watering late in the day or evening, and fertilize regularly for biggest flower power!

Verbena peruviana
Common name: Verbena
Type: Flower from cutting
Plant habit: Compact determinate
Light Needs: Full sun
Water Needs: Dry to normal
Deadheading Recommended: No
Staking Required: No
Plant Habit: Spreading
Plant Height: 8-12 inches
Bloom Time: Spring to frost
Bloom Color: Pink
Bloom Size: 2 inches
Fragrance: Slight
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Weather Tolerance: Heat, cold, rain, frost, wind
Garden Spacing: 20 inches
Hanging Basket: Yes
Closest comparisons on market:
EnduraScape™ Lavender, Lanai Bright Eye


AAS Flower Award Award Winners: Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Orchid Halo’ and Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Pink Halo’

Mega Bloom is an exciting new series of vinca bred to withstand heat and humidity without succumbing to disease. Orchid Halo produces huge bright rich purple blossoms with a wide white eye while Pink Halo produces huge soft pink blossoms with a wide white eye. These flowers present a striking look in the garden, even from a distance. Plants maintain a nice, dense habit with flowers staying on top of the foliage for full flower power color. Can grow in pots and bedding plant, and should be pinched when it has 4 to 6 true leaves. Grow in full sun for best growth.

Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Orchid Halo’

Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Orchid Halo’

Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Pink Halo’

Vinca ‘Mega Bloom Pink Halo’

Catharanthus roseus
Common name: Vinca
Type: Flower from seed
Light Needs: Full sun
Water Needs: Dry to normal
Deadheading Recommended: No
Staking Required: No
Plant Habit: Upright
Plant Height: 13-15 inches
Bloom Time: Summer
Bloom Color: Purple with white eye / Pink with white eye
Bloom Size: 3 inches
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Weather Tolerance: Heat
Garden Spacing: 10-20 inches
Closest comparisons on market:
Titan® Lavender Blue Halo, Cora® Lavender, Vitesse Lavender Morn / Titan Rose Halo, Cora Lavender, Vitesse Rose Morn


AAS Flower Award Award Winner: Zinnia Profusion Red

Zinnia Profusion Red

Zinnia Profusion Red

This newest Profusion Zinnia winner is the fourth color in the single flower series to win the coveted AAS Winner award. The original Profusions were ground-breaking plants because of their compact form, disease resistance, early and continuous blooms all season long and ease in growing. Judges raved about the vibrant, perfectly true red color of this zinnia which doesn’t fade in summer’s intense rays. As one judge stated, “We have waited for years for this true red color in zinnias!” Gardeners will find many uses for the true red zinnia that’s easy to grow and a favorite of pollinators. Uniform plants and outstanding garden performance. Zinnia Profusion will ultimately grow up to 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide. However, in cooler northern climates, with a shorter growing season, the plants often are smaller. The Profusion Double series is highly disease tolerant, but cool temperatures (below 60°F) induces disease problems; especially under wet and rainy conditions. Poorly drained soil or overwatering induces root disease.

Zinnia hybrida
Common name: Zinnia
Type: Flower from seed
Light Needs: Full to partial sun
Water Needs: Normal
Deadheading Recommended: No
Staking Required: No
Plant Habit: Mounded
Plant Height: 8-14 inches
Bloom Time: Late spring to frost
Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Size: 2.5 inches
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Weather Tolerance: Drought, heat, rain, wind
Garden Spacing: 24 inches
Closest comparisons on market:
Profusion Cherry, Zahara Red


AAS Vegetable Award Award Winner: Watermelon ‘Mini Love’

Watermelon ‘Mini Love’

Watermelon ‘Mini Love’

This personal-sized Asian watermelon is perfect for smaller families and smaller gardens. Shorter vines (3-4 feet) still produce up to six fruits per plant and can be grown in smaller spaces. Several judges commented on the crack and split resistant rinds, important for reducing crop loss. For culinary purposes, this deep red fleshed watermelon has a thin but strong rind that can be carved into attractive shapes for fruit salad presentations. Mini Love has a high sugar content resulting in sweet and crisp, juicy flesh that will be a true summer delight for watermelon lovers.

Citrullus lanatus
Common name: Asian watermelon
Season Type: Warm season
Plant habit: Compact, vining
Plant Spread: 36 x 36 inches
Garden spacing: 3-4 feet
Days to harvest (transpl): 70
Fruit color (harvest): Light green with dark stripes
Fruit Shape: Round to oval
Fruit Weight: 7-9 pounds
Fruit Flavor Description: Sweet, refreshing, few seeds
# Fruits/Plant: 4-6
Disease Resistance or Tolerance: Intermediate resistance to Anthracnose
Closest comparisons on market:
‘Shiny Boy’, ‘Brush Sugar Baby’


The Regional Winners for our area for 2017 are:

AAS Regional Flower Award Winner: Penstemon barbatus Twizzle Purple  (Southeast, Heartland)

Penstemon barbatus Twizzle Purple

Penstemon barbatus Twizzle Purple

Vibrant purple blooms present a new and unique color in penstemon! Twizzle Purple was judged as a first-year flowering perennial by judges who were impressed with the upright plant habit and superb flowering performance. This North American native blooms profusely with 1-inch tubular flowers on long slender stalks that grow up to 35 inches high, making this beauty a magnet for pollinators from mid- to late summer. Twizzle Purple can be used to add height to combination planters or in landscapes for high-impact color.

Penstemon barbatus
Common name: Penstemon
Type: Flower from seed
Hardiness Zone: Zone 5 to 8
Light Needs: Full to partial sun
Water Needs: Dry to normal
Deadheading Recommended: Y
Staking Required: No
Plant Habit: Upright
Plant Height: 35 inches
Bloom Time: Late spring – summer
Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Size: 1 inch tubular flower
Container: Yes
Pollinator Friendly: Yes
Weather Tolerance: Cold, rain
Garden Spacing: 12 inches
Closest comparisons on market:
Penstemon barbatus coccineus


AAS Regional Vegetable Award Winner: Squash ‘Honeybaby’ (Southeast, Heartland)

Squash ‘Honeybaby’

Squash ‘Honeybaby’

Honeybaby is a very productive variety of winter squash producing numerous fruits on a compact plant. These shorter vines grow 2-3 feet in a semi-bush habit showing great garden vigor. Short, wide fruits are slightly larger, sweet and nutty and meatier than similar comparison varieties. Honeybaby is delicious steamed, baked or made into soups and stews.

Cucurbita moschata
Common name: Winter squash
Season Type: Warm season
Plant habit: Bushy, compact, trailing, vining
Plant Spread: 2 feet
Garden spacing: 2-3  feet
Days to harvest (seed): 90
Fruit color (harvest): Orange
Fruit Shape: Light bulb shaped
Fruit Size: 6-7 inches
Fruit Weight: .25-.50 pounds
Fruit Flavor Description: Sweet, nutty
# Fruits/Plant: 8-9
Disease Resistance or Tolerance: PM tolerance, crack resistant
Closest comparisons on market:
Honeynut, Butterscotch



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