January 17, 2006
6 flowers, 4 vegetables designated as
By Greg Stack, Extension Educator, Horticulture
Starting next garden season, gardeners will have the chance to
include six new flowers and four new vegetables designated as
All-America Selections, says a University of Illinois Extension
"Winter is a good time to be planning next season's
garden, including possible additions to it," says Greg
Stack. "Each year, the All-America Selections organization
awards its designation to flowers and vegetables that have
demonstrated superior performance after rigorous evaluation in 32
trial gardens across the country."
Beginning with the flowers, Stack calls attention to the
'Diamonte Coral Rose' diascia.
"This first ever F1 hybrid diascia has improved prolific
early flowering and good branching habit," he says. "It
grows to about 10 inches in height with a spreading habit, making
it great for a low border or for use in containers. Diascia does
best in cool weather. While it would be good for early spring
planting, it would probably be best as a fall fill-in when it
could take advantage of the cool, fall weather and bloom right
through light frost."
'Supra Purple' dianthus, another AAS Selection, offers
exceptional garden performance and improved heat tolerance, he
notes. This dianthus grows to about 12 inches in height and
produces an inch and a half flower with highly fringed petals.
The flowers also make good cut flowers for indoor use.
"For those that enjoy fragrance, there is 'Perfume
Deep Purple' nicotiana," Stack says. "This
nicotiana produces two-inch star-shaped purple flowers with a
delicate evening fragrance. It grows to about 20 inches in height
and is good for the sunny border or mixed containers."
'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper is unique among
ornamental peppers. The leaves are pure black and the black shiny
peppers, about the size of marbles, are similar to pearls and
also black. 'BlackPearl' grows to about 18 inches in
height and gets its best color when grown in full sun. This
pepper is great in the garden or as a striking accent plant in
mixed containers. "And, yes, the peppers are edible but fiery hot,"
There are several blue salvia on the market but
'Evolution' expands the color range to violet.
'Evolution' grows to about 24 inches in height and is a
plant for gardeners who want minimal maintenance and maximum
flower impact. It is drought tolerant and free of any major
insect and disease problems. It is a must-have garden annual for
the sunny border.
'Zowie Yellow Flame' is a zinnia that will wake up the
garden with its color, Stack adds.
"The semi-double, three-inch blooms have petals that are
scarlet on the interior and yellow on the tips," he says.
"The petals look like a yellow flame. Plants grow 24-to-30
inches in height and are great for the sunny border. It also
produces armloads of cut flowers all summer."
Vegetable gardeners, too, have some new things to
"The first is a real shocker, especially if you're
used to traditional orange carrots," he says.
"'Purple Haze' is the first purple carrot. The long,
10-to-12-inch roots have a purple exterior and a bright orange
interior. The purple color is best enjoyed when the carrots are
sliced and used raw in salads as the purple color disappears when
they are cooked. The flavor is sweet and nothing special needs to
be done to enjoy an abundance of carrots."
For the herb gardener, 'Delfino' cilantro offers an
improvement over regular cilantro. The foliage is very aromatic
and flavorful plus it is very fine and fern-like, making it very
decorative. Plants grow to 20 inches in height and are good
container garden plants. The plants can be allowed to go to seed,
producing the spice coriander.
"Both sweet and hot pepper fans will enjoy the next two
AAS winners," says Stack.
"'Carmen' is an Italian-type sweet pepper,"
he says. "It is a week earlier than other peppers and
produces a six-inch long pepper with wide shoulders. The shape is
very similar to Melrose peppers. The peppers mature to a red
color and are very sweet. 'Carmen' also produces over a
wide temperature range.
"On the other side of the pepper world is
'Mariachi.' This pepper is a mildly hot chili pepper
about three-to-four inches long. 'Mariachi' ripens from
yellow to red. The plant is vigorous and grows to about 18-to-24
inches in height and produces fruit continuously all
'Diamonte Coral Rose' diascia
'Supra Purple' dianthus
'Perfume Deep Purple' nicotiana
'Black Pearl' ornamental pepper
'Zowie Yellow Flame' zinnia
'Purple Haze' carrot
'Carmen' sweet pepper
'Mariachi' chili pepper