Start Planning for New Garden Varieties

February 21, 2023 at 8:44 a.m.
The strong stems of Doubleshot snapdragons produce a plethora of stunning orange flowers all season, photo courtesy of All-America Selections
The strong stems of Doubleshot snapdragons produce a plethora of stunning orange flowers all season, photo courtesy of All-America Selections Melinda Myers

It’s never too early to start planning new additions to this year’s gardens and containers. Start compiling your list now so you are ready to place your seed order or buy plants early when the selection is the greatest.

Consider including a few All-America Selections (AAS) winners. These plants have been “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally™” for their superior performance in home gardens and containers. Grow a few of these 2023 flower winners for a new look to some long-time favorites.

Coral Candy Coleus is part of the Premium Sun series of coleus. It is the first coleus grown from seed to be selected as an AAS Winner. This uniformly compact coleus has unique narrow, serrated, multicolored leaves. The AAS judges found this variety maintained the color even when grown in full sun. It performed well all season and had almost no flowers. You will only need three seeds to fill a 14 to 16” container.

Bring a bit of the tropics to your garden, patio, or balcony with Royal Hawaiian® Waikiki colocasia. This beautiful elephant ear wowed the judges with its sturdy burgundy stems and large glossy leaves featuring pink veins and creamy white centers. Waikiki reveals these striking colors earlier than other variegated colocasia. This compact variety holds up well in wind and rain.

The stunning orange flowers of Doubleshot snapdragons will have you looking for spaces in the garden and containers to include this winner. This 18 to 20” tall snapdragon features open-faced double flowers that start out in shades of orange and orange-red transitioning to a dusty shade as they age. Its strong stems produce lots of flower-filled branches all season long that don’t break off in high winds.

Blue By You salvia is bursting with bright blue flowers from late spring into fall when spent flowers are removed. This perennial blooms up to two weeks earlier than similar varieties already on the market. It was tested over three seasons, including winters and proven to be hardy in zones 4b to 9a. It is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, makes a great cut flower, is suitable for containers, and is heat tolerant. All this and it’s less favored by deer and rabbits.

Make space in the vegetable garden for the high-yielding Kabocha Sweet Jade winter squash. The fruit weighs between one and two pounds, making it perfect for single servings of squash, as an edible soup bowl, or added to a variety of Asian-style dishes where a sweet, earthy nutritious squash is typically recommended. Roast, bake, or puree Sweet Jade’s deep orange flesh that has a dry texture with a sweet flavor.

Grow San Joaquin jalapeno pepper when looking for big harvests in a short timeframe. This means you’ll have lots of peppers available for canning, pickling, and serving roasted and stuffed to large groups of guests. Leave them on the plant longer, allowing them to turn a beautiful red while maintaining their flavor. These thick-walled peppers have just a hint of heat at 2,500-6,000 Scoville units.

Make room in your gardens and containers for these and other winning varieties. Adding new introductions that have been trialed by horticulture professionals across North America helps increase your gardening success.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” instant video and DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is

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