Every year, new plant introductions are tested by independent growers throughout North America in the quest to find the upcoming season's best offerings. Those that pass muster are dubbed All America Selections, a very high honor in the hort world.
Four of the year's best performers (a bedding plant, a flowering plant and 2 vegetable plants) were just announced, and you can expect to see them for sale at local nurseries and in catalogs this spring. More winners will be announced later this month and in December.
Here's the first batch of 2012 AAS honorees:
BEDDING PLANT WINNER: Salvia, Summer Jewel Pink
Sister to earlier AAS Winner Salvia Summer Jewel Red, this dwarf-sized, compact plant blooms prolifically throughout the growing season. As a bonus, flowers appear almost two weeks earlier than the other pink salvias used in comparison trials. And they attract hummingbirds equally. Bred by Takii & Co., Ltd.
FLOWER WINNER: Ornamental Pepper Black Olive
The AAS judges said this entry was a standout, as it's particularly heat resistant. Throughout the season-long trial, it kept an upright habit with nicely draping leaves and dark purple-black fruit that appeared in small clusters along its stems. As summer progresses, fruits mature to red contrasting against dark purple foliage and bright purple flowers. Bred by Seeds By Design.
Pepper, Cayennetta F1
Cayennetta is noted for its delicious, mildly spicy fruit and growing ease. The three- to four-inch chili pepper yields bigger fruits from a very well branched upright plant that requires no staking, making it ideal for containers. Unique to this variety is that it has good cold tolerance as well as dense foliage to protect the fruits from sun scorch and it handles extreme heat very well. Bred by Floranova Ltd.
Watermelon Faerie F1
'Faerie’ is a nontraditional watermelon with a thin-striped creamy yellow rind, sweet pink-red flesh, a high sugar content and crisp texture. Vines are vigorous but spread only 11 feet, so the plant takes up less space in the garden than other watermelons. Each seven- to eight-inch fruit weighs four to six pounds. It's also insect tolerant and continues to produce fruit throughout the season. Bred by Known-You Seed Co.