Try These Award-Winning Plants

Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/22/2005 9:11:21 PM

Get It Growing

Get It Growing News for 01/02/04

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

Three flowers, two bedding plants and three vegetables earned the distinction of being named 2004 All-America Selection Awards. And one of them was an All-America Selection Gold Medal winner.

The Gold Medal is reserved for a "breeding breakthrough" and was awarded to Celosia plumose, known as Fresh Look Red.

The award winners were:

Flower Award Winners

Fresh Look Red celosia is a compact plumosa type that won the coveted Gold Medal for its outstanding performance. It produces rosy red plumes and is tolerant of heat and humidity and rainy or dry conditions. Fresh Look Red covers up spent plumes with new growth and blooms, so the plant always looks fresh. Best grown in full sun, the plants mature at 12-inches to 18-inches tall and spread 12 inches to 20 inches. The flowers can be cut and dried, and they retain their attractive color for use in dried flower arrangements. Celosias make good warm-season bedding plants in Louisiana. Just plant transplants in April or early May after the danger of frost has passed.

Fresh Look Yellow celosia is similar to Fresh Look Red, but its flower plumes are golden yellow. Growing conditions, planting time and other information mentioned for Fresh Look Red also apply to this celosia as well.

Queeny Purple hollyhock is unusually short and the first purple hollyhock available as a single color rather than part of a mixture. The frilly edged, 3-inch to 4-inch blooms are double with a tuft of short petals in the center of the blossom. Queeny Purple plants will reach a mature height of only 20 inches to 30 inches, which makes them perfect for sunny spots in small garden spaces. Queeny Purple can be grown as a cool-season annual in Louisiana that will flower prolifically the first year from seed planted in the fall. Purchase transplants as soon as they become available in nurseries this spring – the earlier, the better.

Bedding Plant Award Winners

Gypsy Deep Rose baby’s breath is a new cultivar of the annual baby’s breath species, Gypsophila muralis. Improvements over similar available cultivars include a double and semi-double flower, a darker rose color, larger flowers (up to three-eights of an inch) and more flowers over a longer season. The plants grow into a compact mound 8-inches to 10-inches tall and spread about 12 inches to 14 inches. Gypsy Deep Rose is best grown in full sun as a cool-season annual in Louisiana, so purchase transplants by March, at the latest, for bloom in April, May and early June.

Limbo Violet petunia is a unique combination of large flowers on a compact plant. This petunia grows into mounds only 6-inches to 7-inches tall, spread 10 inches to 12 inches, and is covered with large 3-inche wide violet-purple flowers. Limbo Violet is excellent for small garden spaces, containers and formal gardens requiring neat, tidy plants. Petunias do best during the cool season in Louisiana, so gardeners in the southern part of the state should try to get transplants into the garden in February or March, and North Louisiana gardeners in March or early April.

Vegetable Award Winners

The Amy melon is a "canary" type of melon that exhibits improved qualities, such as earliness and higher yield, when compared to similar melon cultivars. The smooth-skinned melons ripen a bright golden yellow – making it easy to know when to harvest. There is a small seed cavity surrounded by moist, white flesh that is noted for its sweet flavor and firm texture. The vines spread about 6 feet in the garden or can be trained up a trellis and will produce melons in 70 days to 80 days from transplanting. Plant seeds or transplants into sunny, well-prepared beds when the weather becomes warm and settled in April or early May.

Sunshine winter squash is a new squash that was a significant improvement over similar cultivars in side-by-side trials across America. The 3-pound to 4-pound fruit is a flattened globe shape, and the bright orange flesh is sweet, nutty and creamy smooth. Sunshine vines spread about 8 feet and produce in about 100 days from sowing. Plant seeds or transplants into sunny, well-prepared beds when the weather becomes warm and settled in April or early May.

Sweet Beauty watermelon produces small 5-pound to 7-pound watermelons that are a great size for the home gardener and are oblong with dark green skin and medium green stripes. Improved for superior eating quality and earliness, Sweet Beauty melons can be harvested in about 80 days from sowing seed into well-prepared, sunny beds after danger of frost has passed. Vines spread about 8 feet to 10 feet.

For more information on the All-America Selections organization, go to www.all-americaselections.org .

Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com . A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available. ###

Contact:     Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor:        Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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