B. Rosie Lerner
Purdue Extension


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All America Winners for 2003

This year brought a bumper crop of new garden plant introductions. Ten ornamental garden plants and two garden vegetables have been awarded the prestigious honor of All America Selections (AAS) for 2003. These new cultivars have been judged as superior in their class based on their performance in test gardens all over the country.

Carnation 'Can Can Scarlet' was selected for its fragrance and versatility as a bedding plant, as well as a cut flower. 'Can Can Scarlet' is heat tolerant and flowers freely throughout the growing season. The plant reaches about 12 inches in height and its gray-green foliage provides good background for the bright scarlet blooms.

Dianthus 'Corona Cherry Magic' has large, whimsical bicolor blooms that can be entirely cherry red, entirely lavender or a mosaic of both colors. The plants reach up to 9 inches tall with a similar spread.

Eustoma 'Forever White' was selected for its ivory-white blooms on plants with an improved garden performance. Eustoma can be a rather leggy plant in need of support in the garden. 'Forever White' bears large 2 1/2-inch blooms on compact, well-branched 12-inch plants, lending its use in both flower beds and containers.

Gaillardia pulchella 'Sundance Bicolor' is the first consistent mahogany red-and-yellow bicolor gaillardia flower. Plants have a spreading habit, reaching up to 16 inches across, and are ideal for hanging baskets and other containers.

"Tall, dark and handsome" is how All America Selections describes the ornamental millet 'Purple Majesty.' The leaves start out green and develop a deep purple color with exposure to full sun. Plants reach up to 5 feet tall with 8- to 12-inch dark purple flower spikes. The immature spikes can be used for flower arrangements, or they can be allowed to mature on the plant where they will provide food for birds. 'Purple Majesty' is very easy to grow and very tolerant of heat and low moisture.

Petunia 'Blue Wave' continues the "Wave" series of cascading ground cover petunias. The plant reaches 4-7 inches tall but spreads up to 4 feet, sporting velvety, dark-blue 2-inch blooms. And best of all, no pinching or pruning is required to keep the plants blooming all season.

Petunia 'Merlin Blue Morn' was selected for its bicolored blooms that are pure white in the center, gradually merging into velvety blue toward the edge. The plants reach up to 20 inches tall, with an equal or greater spread, and are well-adapted to hanging baskets and container gardens.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' is what you might call a "green-eyed Susan" with large 5-inch flower heads. The light green central cone is set among golden-yellow ray flowers, tipped with primrose yellow. The 3-foot-tall plants can be grown as annuals or perennials and can also be used for cut flowers.

Vinca 'Jaio Dark Red' sports really red blossoms with a small, white center. The 2 1/2-inch flowers contrast nicely with the glossy, green foliage. Plants reach up to 15 inches with a bit larger spread.

Although usually thought of as an herb rather than a garden flower, Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee' was chosen for its dense, lavender-blue spikes that arrive in mid to late summer, just as many other garden flowers are looking a bit peaked. The foliage is a yellowish-green, reaching a height of about 20 inches, with a minty fragrance. While you might think the name is related to the foliage color, it actually commemorates the 50-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Summer Squash 'Papaya Pear' was selected for its unusual shape and early production on semi-bush-type plants. The bright yellow squash is shaped similar to a tropical papaya fruit or a light bulb with the widest section near the blossom end. 'Papaya Pear' fruit can be harvested in about 40 days from sowing seed.

Melon 'Angel' is an early Mediterranean-type melon with crisp, white flesh and outstanding sweet flavor. The lightly netted melon skin will turn creamy yellow when mature, making it easy to tell when to harvest. Fruits are ready in about 60 days from transplant. 'Angel' is a vigorous vine, spreading up to 7 feet, and is resistant to fusarium wilt races 0 and 2.

The AAS winners are selected from many new cultivars based on garden performance, as well as production performance in the greenhouse. Although no plant offers a guarantee of success in an individual garden, the AAS winners have proven themselves worthy over a broad range of growing conditions. Try these new selections alongside your old standbys so you'll have a means of comparison. AAS winners should be available through local garden centers and mail-order catalogs next spring. For more information about these and previous years' winners, point your Web browser to


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox