University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

 Spring News Article
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FLOWER AND VEGETABLE WINNERS FOR 2014

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
 
 
Each year since 1932, the All-America Selections (AAS) program has been judging new flowers and vegetables nationwide, and giving their prestigious award to the best.  These are displayed in official gardens, such as ours for flowers at the Burlington (Vermont) Waterfront Park (pss.uvm.edu/ppp/aaswp.html).  This year has seen the awarding of eight new winners, in addition to those previously awarded this year, making the nineteen winners for 2014 the most in one year since this program began.
           
Among the four national winners are a pepper and three flowers.  NuMex Easter is the latest pepper in this line from the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University (hence the name), so is edible as a chile pepper.  The “Easter” refers to the pastel-colored fruits in lavender to cream, turning orange when mature.  It is similar to NuMex Twilight which has more red fruits too.  The narrow, conical fruits are in clusters of 5 to 6 on tops of short, 6-inch high plants.  This ornamental pepper works well along borders, walks, or in pots in full sun. 
           
Angelonia Serenita Pink is great for beginning gardeners, as it is easy to grow and low maintenance, yet is a different annual flower for even more advanced gardeners.  The deep pink flowers of this summer snapdragon (not really a true snapdragon) are on upright spikes about one foot high, and last through the summer.  Once established, it will tolerate some drought.  Plant this annual in masses, along walks or edges of beds, or in pots.  Although preferring full sun, it will tolerate part shade (4 to 6 hours of direct sun daily).
           
Florific Sweet Orange is a New Guinea impatiens, not the regular garden impatiens, which means a couple key points.  It loves full sun but can tolerate part shade of 4 to 6 hours of direct sun, and it doesn’t get the downy mildew disease of shade impatiens.   This hybrid has huge 2-inch flowers of light salmon-orange, with darker orange centers to petals.  These are showy against the shiny, dark green leaves.  These, too, are great in pots, but most showy when planted in masses or groups.
           
Akila Daisy White is an osteospermum, also known as South African daisy from where its relatives came.  This cultivar (cultivated variety) is easily grown from seed, unlike many of its relatives, and unlike other white osteospermums has a yellow center.  The 2-inch across, daisy-type flowers are held on mounded or bushy-habit plants.  These need full sun, and once established will tolerate some drought.  Plant these in pots, or group in masses for best effect.
           
In addition to the four additional national AAS winners this year, there are four additional regional winners—all vegetables.  While these performed best in certain regions of the country, they should grow well in many other areas too.  Saladmore Bush is a hybrid cucumber which was a winner in the Southeast.  This new slicing cucumber has good disease resistance and, as its name indicates, being a bush-type is good in large containers or small-space gardens. 
           
Patio Baby is a hybrid eggplant, its small 3-inch edible fruit being attractive as an ornamental too.  Fruit have excellent taste, being less bitter than many similar.  The compact plants, under 2-feet high, are good in containers. Patio Baby was a Northeast region winner.
           
Giant Ristra is a hybrid pepper that looks like a Marconi type but with the heat of a cayenne.  Use the bright red 7-inch fruits too for drying, or just for decoration.  This plant can reach 2 feet or more high in ideal climates.  A winner in the Mountain and Southwest regions, this pepper takes 110 days from sowing seeds to harvest.
           
Rivoli radish was a winner in several regions, having large rounded bright red roots on the outside, bright white on the inside.  With larger roots, space Rivoli farther apart than other radishes.  It remains quite tasty, even if left in the garden for a while.  This is an early bearer, taking only 30 days from sowing seeds to harvest.
           
More on these new selections and their culture, other recent AAS winners, past winners, and seed sources can be found online (www.all-americaselections.org/).   

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