Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A. | 12/23/2005 2:07:27 AM
By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
A variety of beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables were named All-America Selections winners for 2006, and some of them are suitable for growing during the cool season in Louisiana.
Here are some details on those winners:
Bedding Plant Award Winners
Although All-America Selections names bedding plant winners and cool-season bedding plant winners, this year’s bedding plant winners also should be grown during the cool season in Louisiana, which stretches from October until April/May.
Dianthus ‘Supra Purple’ bloomed early and exhibited exceptional garden performance, including heat tolerance and prolific bloom, during national trials. The 1½-inch, single, purple flowers are lacy, with highly fringed petal edges. In full sun, 'Supra Purple' will reach 12 inches tall with an upright bouquet habit spreading 10 inches.
Nicotiana ‘Perfume Deep Purple’ was named for its delicate evening fragrance and deep purple flowers. The single, 2-inch, star-shaped flowers are produced in abundance. Plants can reach 20 inches and spread 15 inches to 18 inches in a full sun garden location, but the plants also perform well in part shade.
Cool-Season Bedding Plant Award Winners
Diascia ‘Diamonte’ and ‘Skipy XL Red-Gold’ viola also should be grown during the cool season in Louisiana from October through April/May.
Diascia ‘Diamonte Coral Rose’ is the first F1 hybrid diascia, and its improvements include early flowering, branching habit, increased flower production and longer blooming. At 10 inches tall and 18 inches wide, the spreading habit is perfect for mixed containers where a cascading plant is desirable. It’s also great as a low edging plant in a sunny garden. The 1-inch, rosy coral blooms are produced in short spikes and can literally cover the plant.
Viola ‘Skippy XL Red-Gold’ is the first Viola cornuta to win the prestigious All-America Selections Award. The improved qualities are larger flowers, unusual flower colors and freedom of bloom. The large, 1½-inch, round flowers are ruby red with violet red shading below the golden yellow face that contains penciling or whiskers. When mature, the vigorous plants will spread 8 inches and remain about 6 inches tall.
Flower Award Winners
The following ornamental pepper, salvia and zinnia winners all are summer bedding plants grown from April to October in Louisiana.
Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’ has pure black leaves and small, black, shiny peppers borne upright on the plant. The vigorous plants prefer full sun and will grow to 18 inches tall, spreading about 12 inches to 16 inches. The peppers turn red when mature and are edible but fiery hot!
Salvia ‘Evolution’ expands the color range of Salvia farinacea. The 6- to 7-inch flower spikes are violet, distinctly different from the typical blue. 'Evolution' will grow to about 16 inches to 24 inches tall and spread 16 inches to 19 inches. 'Evolution' plants are not demanding and suffer from few disease or pest problems.
Zinnia ‘Zowie! Yellow Flame’ begins a new class of semi-tall zinnias with a novel bicolor pattern. Each 3- to 4-inch, semi-double bloom contains a scarlet/rose center with yellow petal edges. In a sunny garden, mature plants will reach 24 inches to 29 inches tall, spreading 26 inches to 27 inches. The zinnia flowers are excellent as cut flowers.
Vegetable Award Winners
Two of this year’s vegetable award winners – Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ and cilantro ‘Delfino’ – are best grown in the cool-season garden from October to April/May in Louisiana.
Carrot ‘Purple Haze’ is the first imperator-shaped purple carrot. The 10- to 12-inch, smooth, purple carrots taper to a point. They reveal a bright orange center when cut and are very sweet. They are best used raw, since cooking will dissolve the purple color. 'Purple Haze' carrots can be harvested about 70 days after sowing seed.
Cilantro ‘Delfino’ is an improved, aromatic, edible herb that really looks different from typical cilantro. It has fine fernlike foliage that is more decorative than other coarse-leaved cilantros, yet it has a rich cilantro flavor.
On the other hand, the peppers that are this year’s winners – ‘Carmen’ and ‘Mariachi’ peppers – should be grown from April to November in Louisiana.
‘Carmen’ is a beautiful, improved Italian-type sweet pepper that is a week earlier than comparisons. The distinctive horn-shaped peppers are very sweet when ripe red, whether raw or cooked. The upright plant reaches 28 inches tall and spreads 16 inches. The unusually sweet peppers can be harvested about 75 days from transplanting.
Pepper ‘Mariachi’ won because of its superior fruit size, improved earliness, marvelous yield and unusually fine flavor. Its yellow ripening, red, cone-shaped fruit is mildly hot. The 18- to 24-inch plants set fruit continuously throughout the growing season, and it can be used in a wide variety of dishes including salsas and sauces.
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.