Sarah Browning: Blossoms and big winners | Home & Garden

(This article is provided by All-America Selections, including pictures and plant information. Visit them at for additional information and pictures.)

All-America Selections has announced six flower award winners this year, including two Gold Medal winners and four National winners.

Gold Medal awards are reserved for breakthroughs in plant breeding, signaling a plant with a completely unique feature not previously found in similar plants. So Gold Medals are awarded very rarely.

National awards are given to plants with consistently great performance across the United States. To see pictures of these and other great plants visit the All-America Selection website,

Begonia Viking Explorer Rose on Green is the first Gold Medal award winner.

Erase that sea-faring conqueror image and replace it with this garden-faring beauty that performs exceptionally well and has high impact color. This hybrid trailing begonia “explores” the garden by spreading and spilling its branches over the edges of hanging baskets and containers. Prolific rose-colored flowers stand out against the glossy green foliage and do so all season long. It has a strong tolerance to heat and many diseases, as well as both wet and  dry conditions.

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This annual begonia grows best in full or partial sun with well-drained soil. They are disease resistant and pollinator friendly. Plants reach approximately 16 inches tall, with trailing spreading stems. Rose flowers, each 2.6 inches in diameter, appear in late spring and continue through fall. One AAS judge states “The compact plants are covered in large flowers. The flowers are nicely held above the foliage.””

“Stellar performance for containers” states another AAS judge. “This begonia was awesome this year! Compared to the comparisons, it was more floriferous and had a nice, basket-like habit. Excellent variety!” says another. These new Vikings are sure to be a garden favorite.

Available from Select Seed,

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Petunia “Bee’s Knees” is this year’s second Gold Medal winner and is the first petunia since 1950 to be awarded this distinction. Each Bee’s Knees petunia is filled with lush blooms that put on a colorful show of deep yellow, non-fading flowers all season long. The intense yellow petunia color contrasts beautifully against the deep green leaves. Bee’s Knees offers great garden performance in a variety of conditions and requires very little maintenance. Gardeners will love its deep, rich yellow color and its versatile mounding habit. Works great as an element in mixed containers or as a hanging basket but also thrives as a long-blooming groundcover.

Petunias are annuals, growing best in full sun with well-drained soil. Plants have a mounding or trailing growth habit, reaching 8 to 10 inches tall. The flowers are a solid, deep yellow color and 2 to 2.5 inches across. Plants bloom from early summer through fall. They are heat- and rain-tolerant once established and pollinator friendly. Fertilize regularly with a water-soluble product to keep plants blooming profusely or, if preferred, use a granular slow-release fertilizer product.

Judges commented, “Amazing eye-catching color, full cover with color. Bloom color does pop due to darker yellow veining and throat.” And “Yellow color didn’t fade, plants were a solid mound of yellow blooms all season. No disease, no deer problem, no breakage from the wind. Great plant!”

Available from Burpee Seed,, and Ferry-Morse,

National ornamental winners

Celosia “Flamma Orange” is coming in hot! Get ready to bring some fiery orange color to your garden with Flamma (“The Flame”) celosia. This compact variety has numerous branches, each with a strong flower plume, as well as secondary blooms, which give a long show of color in the garden. AAS judges were impressed with the superior garden performance and how well it stood up to hot, humid and rainy conditions during the trial season. Not only does Flamma have exceptional heat tolerance but also stuns with its early flowers that won’t fade. Whether you decide to grow this in beds or in containers (it was trialed in both) you will have a great show of orange color all season long.

Verbena “Beats Purple+White” is an incredible new series of verbena which performs all summer long. The AAS judges raved about how early to flower Purple+White was, making it a pollinator magnet all season long. The unique purple and white bicolor blooms maintain a nice, attention-getting pattern and thrive even during severe heat stress. A bonus is how Verbena Beats Purple+White is resistant to powdery mildew, making it easier to grow and maintain for gardeners of all levels of experience.

Verbena bonariensis “Vanity” – It’s not every day we see a new variety of a classic cottage garden plant but Vanity is one to wow! Not only does this verbena create a pollinator paradise in your garden, but also the compact habit makes it sturdier and easier to maintain. Deep blue/purple flowers are 1 to 1.5 inches across and continue to attract butterflies day in and day out. Vanity prides itself on performing well in hot, dry conditions while remaining a showy garden plant. Once you try Vanity, you will feel the same as the AAS judge who stated: “This entry was my favorite in all of this season’s entries!”

Sunflower “Concert Bell” puts on quite a performance with a unique flower presentation of multiple clusters of 10 to 12 flowers on an erect columnar stem. Beautiful golden yellow blooms appear earlier than the comparisons. Each plant grows to a very uniform height of 5 to 6 feet and if used as a cut flower, makes an instant, ready-made bouquet from just one cut. Excellent seed germination makes this beauty very easy to grow and is perfect for continuous sowing to keep blooms going through the end of summer. Concert Bell was trialed in a year of adverse weather conditions and multiple judges commented on its durability and sturdiness even through strong storms and winds.

Unfortunately, AAS does not currently list seed or plant sources for any of the National Ornamental winners, which means it may be another year or two before they will be available at your local garden center. But keep them in mind for 2023!

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