Prize winners

In the Garden
Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University Master Gardener

      Last week, we looked at the edible winners of All America Selections for 2022.  This week, we will take a look at the flowers that have won prizes, including two that have been given special merit.  As with the vegetables, some of these will be difficult to find this year, but you can keep an eye out for them.  They should be more readily available by next year.
     Two torenias have been selected as All America Selections: Summery Love Pure White and Vertigo Deep Blue.  Both are described as vigorous and durable, with flowers coming all summer.  They are great for hanging baskets, but are also recommended for mass plantings.  Torenias usually play second fiddle to some other plant, but these two varieties have larger flowers and can be the stars of the show.
    Speaking of stars, one could hardly imagine one with higher billing than Begonia Viking Explorer Rose on Green.  Hundreds of rosy pink blooms shine against glossy green foliage on this trailing begonia.  It is perfect for use in hanging baskets, but it can also be used as a specimen plant in the landscape.  It is disease resistant and tolerates hot, humid conditions and will also survive wet periods.  This one is a tender perennial, but is treated as an annual in Indiana.  You may, however, overwinter it in the house or lift the tubers and store them in a cool, dry area to start up again the following spring.  
     Imagine a bright yellow petunia that blooms all summer and does not require deadheading.  It does exist!  Not only is Petunia Bees’ Knees an All America Selection, but it is the first petunia to be awarded a Gold Medal since 1950.  It is also versatile, with a mounding habit that lends itself to hanging baskets, playing the spiller in a mixed planting or as an annual groundcover.  This one is available from Burpee and Ferry Morse.  I would not be a bit surprised to find transplants at area greenhouses.
     The yellow continues with an award-winning zinnia.  Zinnia Queeny Lemon-Peach spots blooms of two to four inches on sturdy stems.   It stands up to the summer heat.  Lemony yellow petals surround a dark peach center.  As the flowers age, they fade to some interesting colors.  This zinnia does not have to be dead-headed.  It was awarded the Fleuroselect Gold Medal in Europe, so it is an international star.  Osborne Quality Seeds and Select Seeds both are carrying the seeds for this sunny zinnia.
     2021 was the Year of the Sunflower, but there is a new variety of the Ukrainian national flower for 2022.  There will be 10 to 12 flowers on each stem of Sunflower Concert Bell.  The stems will average around 5 feet tall.  In last year’s trials, these stems stood up to a lot of stormy weather without falling over.  The germination rate is very high, so succession planting of this sunflower would guarantee blooms all summer and well into autumn.
     If yellow is too tame for you, a bright orange celosia has also received All America Selection.  Celosia Flamma Orange boasts fiery orange plumes on multiple stems.  The plants stand up well to hot, humid weather, but will also survive dry conditions.
     The final flower on the list is a new verbena.  Verbena Beats Purple+White lives up to the name, with purple and white florets in each cluster.  The plants flower all summer and are powdery-mildew resistant.
     Recently, a reader stopped by to see a flower I had mentioned in a recent column.  Unfortunately, that particular bloom had already faded away.  That is the nature of gardens.  If there is something you wish to see, make time to visit at that time.  There is always something going on at Sandhill Gardens, but the only constant is change. I like it that way.


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