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Tried and true plants are All-America Selection winners

The 2012 All-America Selections (AAS) have been announced. AAS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials.

Each year, judges visit trial gardens across North America. Judges look for improved qualities such as earliness to bloom or harvest, disease or pest tolerance, novel colors or flavors, novel flower forms, total yield, length of flowering or harvest and overall performance.

There are two AAS winning flowers and two vegetables for 2012. All grow best in well-drained soils, and full sun.

‘Black Olive’ is a pepper (Capsicum annuum Black Olive) but won in the flower category. The AAS Judges said this entry was a standout, especially in southern gardens where heat is always a major factor. The dark purple to black fruit, which appear in small clusters along the stems, matures to red as summer progresses. If you can’t find this one, nor start it yourself from seeds, look for the similar ‘Pretty in Purple’ or ‘Black Pearl’. And yes, the fruit of ‘Black Olive’ is edible and fiery hot.

'Black Olive' pepper

‘Summer Jewel Pink’ salvia (Salvia coccinia Summer Jewel Pink) is the other winning AAS flower for this year. Summer Jewel Pink salvia is a dwarf-sized, compact plant that is notable for its prolific production of spikes of delicate pink flowers throughout the growing season. The plants grow to be about 15 to 20 inches tall and about 10 to 15 inches wide. The foliage is an attractive mid-green and is slightly fuzzy. The flowers are rich in nectar, and the hummingbirds love pink just as much as they do red!

Salvia coccinia 'Summer Jewel Pink'

‘Cayennetta’ pepper (Capsicum annuum Cayennetta) is one of the award-winning new vegetables. It is a chili-type pepper, with spicy fruits that reach three to four inches long. The tapered and elongated fruit start green and turn red as they mature. It grows upright and branched, requiring no staking which makes it perfect for a container or patio planter. A unique character of this variety is that it has good cold tolerance. This is important for gardeners planting as early as possible in spring and a good characteristic for late-summer plantings for fall production. Also notable is the dense foliage cover that protects the fruits from sun scorch. And it handled extreme heat very well.

Capsicum annuum 'Cayennetta'

‘Faerie’ is the other winning vegetable for 2012. ‘Faerie’ is a non-traditional watermelon in that it has a creamy yellow rind with thin stripes yet still yields sweet pink-red flesh. The fruit averages between four and six pounds and has a high sugar content and crisp texture. Vines are vigorous yet only reach about ten feet in spread, making them good for smaller spaces. Another bonus to this selection is its tolerance to insects and diseases.

To learn about more recent winners and to see past winners, visit the All-America Selections website (www.all-americaselections.org). They even provide a spreadsheet of seed sources for the winning plants.

Permanent link to this article: http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2012/01/10/tried-and-true-plants-are-all-america-selection-winners/