by Erl Svedsen
The non-profit organization All-America Selections (AAS; www.all-americaselections.org) recently announced their winning flower and vegetable varieties for 2018. This year, six ornamental annuals made the cut.
Canna ‘South Pacific Orange F1’: This canna is compact, reaching 15-52 inches and sports long-lasting bright orange flowers. Compared to other cannas, it produces more basal branches (which equals more flower spikes). It needs neither staking nor deadheading. Start from seed in mid- to late February.
Transplant seedlings to individual pots when large enough to handle. Plant outdoors in full sun after last frost. In fall, you can dig up the fleshy rhizomes and store as you would begonias, dahlias and other tender bulbs, tubers, roots and corms. Great for containers or a compact border.
Cuphea FloriGlory® Diana: Very showy and floriferous, this Mexican heather forms a carpet of magenta flowers overtop dark glossy green leaves, reaching about 12 inches tall by 16 inches in diameter.
This is a great plant for the prairie garden being drought, heat, wind and rain tolerant as well as providing colour well into fall. A full sun plant, great for containers, hanging baskets, and edging in beds and borders.
Gypsophila ‘Gypsy White Improved’: Described as a ‘fluffy white mound of beauty,’ this annual baby’s-breath produces hundreds of large semi-double white flowers over a dense, 10-inch compact globe. Does best in bright and cool conditions; will tolerate warmer condition if given enough water (not drought tolerant). Grow in containers or in the garden as an edger or ground cover.
[Note: ‘Gypsy White Improved’ is a non-invasive baby’s-breath species, Gypsophila muralis].
Marigold Super Hero™ Spry: This compact, early blooming French marigold, 10-12 inches tall, produces large (2-inch) bicolour flowers: bright yellow-gold petals overtop maroon lower petals. Drought and heat tolerant once established, plant in full sun for best results. Deadhead to promote blooming.
Ornamental Pepper ‘Onyx Red’: A real stunner – dark purple-black leaves and stems contrast with bright red fruit on this compact bushy plant. Plant in full sun, this ornamental pepper, provides season-long interest even without fruit.
It has some drought tolerance once established and needs August heat to really perform. In containers, it will grow to about 6 inches; in the garden (beds, borders, mass plantings), it can reach up to 10 inches.
Zinnia ‘Queenie Lime Orange’: Zinnias are as popular today as they were in your grandmother’s garden. This new variety is sturdy (no staking required) and compact (1.5-2 feet) with fully double bicolour blooms that progress through shades of lime, yellow, peach, salmon and orange as they age. Drought and heat tolerant, plant in full sun.
Super for the cut flower garden, flowers can last up to 3 weeks in a vase. When mass planted, the striking large dahlia-like flowers are a real showstopper.
In addition to about 80 trial gardens across the USA and Canada, there are nearly 200 display gardens showcasing some of the latest AAS winners, including one next to the south entrance to the Agriculture Building on the University of Saskatchewan Campus.
Put a note in your calendar to visit it this summer.
Erl gardens in Saskatoon and recently started tweeting about it @ErlSv.
This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; www.saskperennial.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.facebook.com/saskperennial).