In a year when many of our favorite sporting events have been postponed or even canceled, the garden marches on! As gardeners, we have our own backyard competitions each year, keeping mental notes on which varieties we will plant again or replace due to their performance on our ‘home court’. But choosing which varieties will be in our starting lineup each year can become a daunting task.
Fortunately, there is an organization that holds the Olympics of garden plants each year and awards only those cultivars that have proven performance. If you visit the All-America Selections website, you can learn about the blind trialing process, trial sites, and even the judges. There are even Display Gardens you can visit to see recent winners in person, including the South Carolina Botanical Garden.
Be on the lookout for the 2020 winners. Some of the standouts that were nationally proven or scored high in the southeast include:
- Coleus ‘Main Street Beale Street’ has a rich red color that doesn’t fade. It tolerates shade or sun.
- Echinacea ‘Sombrero® Baja Burgundy’ has unique burgundy-red blooms.
- Rudbeckia x ‘American Gold Rush’ is compact and disease resistant and scored well compared to the well-known standard, Goldsturm.
- Zinnia ‘Holi Pink’ F1 has bold pink blooms that resist fading.
- Cucumber Green Light F1 is a high-yielding, early mini-cucumber.
- Pumpkin Blue Prince F1 is early to produce smooth-fleshed fruits that are good to eat or display.
- Tomato Apple Yellow F1 produces high yields of small, firm fruits shaped like miniature apples.
- Tomato Celano F1 produces high-quality grape tomatoes on compact, semi-determinate plants.
- Tomato Early Resistance F1 is a deep red Roma type resistant to a long list of diseases.
- Watermelon Mambo F1 is a sweet, prolific melon with 9-inch fruits that hold well once harvested.
There are many additional All-America Selections winners to explore, as the organization has been conducting trials since 1932!
To read more about selecting plants for your garden, see HGIC 1258, Selecting Good Seeds or Plants.