Once the calendar rolls over to a new year, gardeners across the country begin to seek out new flower and vegetable varieties for their gardens.
Bedding plants are always in demand. This year, four of them have been distinguished as All-America Selections (AAS) winners. The National Garden Bureau has provided information on what's new in 2003. Take a look.
- Vinca Jaio Dark Red is described as the "best red yet in Vinca" by an AAS judge. The velvety, opulent deep red color is distinctive, similar to a sumptuous burgundy wine. Each large two-inch bloom has a contrasting white center that brightens the overall effect in the full sun garden. Vinca "Jaio Dark Red" tolerates extreme heat, humidity and dry conditions. Once plants are established, they only need water when soil moisture is low. The plants reach 15 inches in height and spread 15 to 20 inches. Experienced gardeners might try growing seeds indoors. Novice gardeners, however, are better off getting this wonderful bedding plant from a garden center this spring.
- Forever White promises white blossoms for the summer gardening season. One reason for this freedom of bloom is the genus, Eustoma. "Forever White" inherited many superior wildflower traits from Eustoma grandiflorum, a native to Colorado, Nebraska and Texas. These native prairie plants are well-known for their heat and drought tolerance. "Forever White" exhibits these desirable qualities with improved flower size. The ivory to white flowers are two and a half inches and long-lived. Since eustoma thrives on heat, wait until the soil temperature has warmed before transplanting into the sunny location on your patio.
- "Large flowers on petite plants" aptly describes Corona Cherry Magic. The magic involved with this Dianthus chinensis is the fortuitous flower color combinations. The two- to three-inch single flowers can be cherry red, lavender or a mosaic of the two colors with stripes, flecks or a corona of color. The plants reach a height of only seven to nine inches and have dark green foliage. They tolerate cool, warm and hot temperatures. Moderately fertile soil will encourage continuous flowering. They are well-suited for patio containers or window boxes and are a perfect companion plant for dwarf conifers or tropical foliage plants. In Kansas, Corona Cherry Magic will flower without restraint throughout the summer season. Bedding plants will be available in garden centers this spring.
- For an undemanding plant that only asks for water when rain is absent, try Gaillardia Sundance Bicolor. The fully double blooms are mahogany red and yellow. The spreading, mounded plant habit and casual placement of flowers lead one to consider it a perfect addition to a native garden. Sundance Bicolor seeds are available through mail order seed catalogs and will perform well when sown directly into prepared garden soil. Young bedding plants also may be available in garden centers this spring.
- An abundance of star-like flowers cover the neat cushion-shaped plant of the Isotoma Blue Star. This tough ornamental flowers from spring to late autumn and makes a great addition to the flower bed or patio.
- The National Garden Bureau has not forgotten the vegetable gardeners among us. This year has plenty of new offerings. All-America Selections Vegetable winner, Melon F1 Angel, is a sweet flavored two to three pound melon with a white flesh that is firm, sweet and crisp. The lightly netted skin turns creamy yellow when mature, about 60 days from planting. The vines spread six to seven feet. The fruit easily slips from the vine when mature, about 60 days from transplanting. Melon F1 "Angel" is resistant to fusarium wilt races 0 and 2.
- One of the best yielding new varieties of tomatoes to come along in years is Tomato F1 Floralina. Fruits are picture perfect, large and beautiful. They are smooth, weigh about a half pound each and present very small blossom scar. Tomato F1 Floralina is widely adapted with good disease resistance. Maturity is 72 days from transplant.
Next week, we'll take a look at more new varieties and more All-America Selection winners.
-- Carol Boncella is education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and home and garden writer for the Journal-World.