Plants of merit include the first hybrid onion to ever garner an AAS award, a poinsettia with foliage interest that overshadows its bracts, and two bedding plants that have swept the competition on both sides of the Atlantic.
All-America Selections has announced nine AAS Award winners and has bestowed yet another Profusion color with its Gold Medal for 2001. Zinnia ‘Profusion White’ joins previous Gold Medal winners ‘Profusion Cherry’ and ‘Profusion Orange’.
Profusion White (Sakata) captured the Gold Medal with its improved habit, freedom of bloom, and disease tolerance. "Greenhouse growers can grow Profusion White with confidence due to the proven disease tolerance," says AAS Executive Director Nona Koivula. "Earliness is another reason to grow it," she adds. "From seed to bloom it requires only 60 to 65 days."
Lisianthus ‘Forever Blue’ (PanAmerican), a 2001 AAS Bedding Plant winner, is "the perfect name," says Koivula, noting that this single-flowered blue lisianthus (eustoma) has the genetic capability to flower continuously through the growing season once it begins blooming. The large 2.5-inch flowers unfold about 21 weeks from sowing, earlier than comparisons.
So distinct is its branching habit (producing a full, lush plant ideal for four-inch pot production) that PanAmerican has submitted the trait for a utility patent. Garden performance is deemed excellent.
Also earning a 2001 Bedding Plant award is Nicotiana F1 ‘Avalon Bright Pink’ (Floranova). Its compact branching habit and its earliness (90 days to flowering on six-inch plants from seed) make it very suitable for four-inch pot production. Mature plants reach a height of seven to 10 inches and a spread of 10 to 12 inches.
The third AAS 2001 Bedding Plant award winner, Portulaca F1 ‘Margarita Rosita’ (Waller), has a compact mounded habit perfect for bedding plant production. The young plant reaches a height of about three to four inches in the pack and produces large 1.5- to 2-inch, dark-pink, semidouble blooms. Koivula notes that Margarita Rosita is shipable without damage and has an extended shelf life at the garden center.
The 2001 AAS Flower Award has been bestowed upon ‘Ring of Fire’ (Ernst Benary), a sunflower with golden-edged petals and a ring of red that surrounds the chocolate-brown center. Plants reach a mature height of 4.5 feet, a stem length that makes them desirable for cutflowers. An easy and quick 2 1/4-inch crop, Koivula notes that Ring of Fire is somewhat long to bloom at 120 days from seed. "This is a good reason to sell young plants," she says, adding that consumer magazines will be promoting Ring of Fire and that consumers will be looking for it.
The four 2001 AAS Vegetable Award winners are Onion F1 ‘Super Star’ (Seminis Garden), a daylength-neutral onion widely adaptable across North America, is the first hybrid onion awarded an AAS medal in the organization’s 67-year history; Pepper F1 ‘Giant Marconi’ (Seminis Garden), which Koivula characterizes as the best of the marconi class for earliness, pepper size and yield; Sweet Corn F1 ‘Honey Select’ (Novartis), a yellow TripleSweet variety with improved genetics for home garden ease of growing and eating quality; and Tomato F1 ‘Jolly’ (Known-You Seed), which features abundant clusters of distinctively peach-shaped pink, cherry tomatoes on an indeterminate vine.
Based in Downers Grove, Ill., All-America Selections is a non-profit organization that evaluates new seed-grown flowers and vegetables in trial gardens across the nation for home garden performance. AAS award winners are extensively promoted in the consumer press.
The two bedding plant varieties – Zinnia Profusion White and Nicotiana Avalon Bright Pink – that earned 2001 Fleuroselect Gold Medals, also earned 2001 AAS awards.
Fleuroselect judges echoed the praise lavished by AAS on Profusion White, proclaiming that the Profusion series "has elevated the status of the zinnia to that of a world plant." Fleuroselect also commends the series for its adaptability to changeable European growing conditions. "As a native American, the zinnia has never really traveled because it prefers warm, dry conditions," says Gill Gerken, public relations and product manager for Fleuroselect. "The problem was tackled with the introduction of the Profusion series in 1999."
Regarding Avalon Pink, the Fleuroselect judges were particularly impressed with its performance in pack trials where it proved itself "a genuine pack performer; a quality which is certain to please growers." Gerken characterizes Avalon Pink as "a breakthrough in tobacco plants and a surefire winner with its combined technical quality and effervescent floral beauty."
Based in The Netherlands, Fleuroselect is an international organization for the testing of new garden flowers.
‘Holly Point’ from Paul Ecke Ranch has received the FloraStar award based on trials of a variety of entrants. According to Mike Novovesky, FloraStar’s executive director, Holly Point is particularly notable for the appeal of its golden-green variegated foliage (bracts are red).
FloraStar, which has been a reporting organization to Bedding Plants International over the past five years, is in the process of becoming an independent entity focused on promoting plants new to commerce in North America. For information on FloraStar’s upcoming trials, visit www.florastar.com .