All-America Selections (AAS) has announced its first five winning plants for 2017.
Three of the five are national winners, and two are regional winners. And of the five, one is an ornamental plant, while the other four are edibles.
A panel of independent judges selected these plants after reviewing trial performances. AAS says all these plants are available for immediate purchase.
Here’s the list of winners:
Celosia ‘Asian Garden’ (2017 Ornamental From Seed National Winner). This celosia winning in North America’s trial sites makes it the first ever AAS Winner from Japanese breeding company Murakami Seed. The judges gave this entry high marks in the greenhouse for the good branching, almost bushy growth habit, and early-to-bloom flower spikes. In the garden, ‘Asian Garden’ celosia continued to bloom on sturdy stems, keeping the bright pink color all summer long, holding up even through some of the first frosts of the season. The AAS judges commented on the fact that this celosia was a pollinator-magnet, making this AAS Winner a sure bet for pollinator-friendly gardens
Okra ‘Candle Fire’ (2017 Edible National Winner). A unique red okra with pods that are round, not ribbed, and have a brighter red color than the reddish burgundy okras currently available. This okra received high marks for productivity, taste, texture, and tenderness as well as the ornamental value of red pods on red stems. One judge noted that ‘Candle Fire’ okra was quite maintenance free to grow, except for the frequent harvesting. ‘Candle Fire’ thrives in the heat and is disease resistant even in hot humid climates like the South, where it’s perfect for traditional fried okra. Bred by Known-You Seed Company.
Pea ‘Patio Pride’ (2017 Edible Regional Winner – Southeast). This compact pea plant produces sweet, uniform pods that are very tender when harvested early. With only 40 days needed to maturity, ‘Patio Pride’ can be one of your first spring harvests, or one of the last fall harvests from your Southeastern garden! This pea is wonderful when planted in containers and is ideal for succession planting, yielding a consistent harvest over many weeks. Plant in patio containers with cool season flowers for a beautiful combination ornamental and edible display. Direct seeding is recommended; seed 3-4 seeds every 6 inches, then thin to one seedling every 6 to 8 inches. Bred by Terra Organics.
Squash ‘Honeybaby’ (2017 Edible Regional Winner – Southeast). ‘Honeybaby’ is a productive variety of winter squash, yielding numerous fruits on a compact plant. These shorter vines grow 2 to 3 feet in a semi-bush habit showing great garden vigor which results in healthier plants that resisted powdery mildew later into the season, especially in the Southeast. Short, wide fruits are slightly larger, sweet and nutty, and more meaty than similar comparison varieties. ‘Honeybaby’ is delicious steamed, baked, or made into soups and stews. Plant as soon as soil temperatures reach 65 degrees to ensure maturity in 90 to 100 days. Bred by Seeds By Design.
Watermelon ‘Mini Love’ (2017 Edible National Winner). This personal-sized Asian watermelon is perfect for smaller families and smaller gardens. Shorter vines (3 to 4 feet) still produce up to six fruits per plant and can be grown in smaller spaces. Several judges commented on the crack and split resistant rinds, important for reducing crop loss. For culinary purposes, this deep red fleshed watermelon has a thin but strong rind that can be carved into attractive shapes for fruit salad presentations. ‘Mini Love’ has a high sugar content, resulting in sweet, crisp, and juicy flesh that will be a true summer delight for watermelon lovers. Bred by HM Clause.