Pick an All-American for your garden

By Bruce J. Black Horticulture educator Illinois Extension

Solanum lycopersicum var. Apple Yellow F1 (CREDIT: All-America Selections)

Thunderstorms, snow, and ice, oh my! To beat the winter blues, one may turn to the 2020 seed and plant catalogs for spring inspiration and warmth.

“Planning your garden is essential to make sure you have plants that can tolerate our cold temperatures and still have blossoms all year long,” says Bruce J. Black, University of Illinois horticulture educator. “After mapping out your existing perennials, think about what new plants could be added to your landscape. A great starting place is the All-America Selections.”

All-America Selections, AAS, is a non-profit organization that releases several trialed plants each year as AAS Winners. AAS tests new varieties every year at their 80 private and public trial sites located around the United States and Canada.

Currently, there are five trial locations in Illinois: three northern, one central and one southern. Independent judges, who are professional horticulturists in geographically diverse areas, evaluate trial entries against comparison plants.

The results and observations are compiled and winners are chosen. For the best plants suited to the area, Illinois residents should look for Great Lakes winners or national winners on the AAS Winners lists.

Fourteen 2020 AAS Winners have been announced. Six were mentioned in the previous article. The five additional are discussed below which include four vegetables and one flower. They include:

  • Pumpkin, Blue Prince F1(Cucurbita maxima var. Blue Prince F1):  Blue flattened 7-9 pound pumpkins with orange flesh. Noted for its savory sweetness and scoring high in: early maturing, fruit size, uniformity, color, etc. 90 days to harvest from transplant. National Vegetable Winner.
  • Tomato, Apple Yellow F1(Solanum lycopersicum var. Apple Yellow F1): Apple-shaped tomato with a firm and meaty texture. Sweet citrus taste with good eating quality. Indeterminate vines with up to 1,000 fruits per plant. 110 days to harvest from transplants. National Vegetable Winner.
  • Tomato, Chef’s Choice Bicolor F1(Solanum lycopersicum var. Chef’s Choice Bicolor F1): Pink and yellow beefsteak, early maturing and uniformed variety. Producing up to 30+ fruits per plant. 75 days to harvest from transplants. Four disease tolerances noted. Regional (Heartland) Vegetable Winner.
  • Tomato, Galahad F1(Solanum lycopersicum var. Galahad F1): High-yielding sturdy planted tomato with Late Blight resistance. Sweet and meaty flavored 12-ounce fruits. Compact and determinate. 75 days to harvest from transplants. Regional (Heartland) Vegetable Winner.
  • Coleus, Main Street Beale Street(Solenostemon scutellarioides var. Main Street Beale Street):  Main Street Beale Street is the first-ever coleus AAS winner. Deep red foliage that holds its color through the season. An upright, bushy plant that grows uniformly and flowers very late in the season. Full sun to full shade tolerance. National Winner.

Looking for something else to fill in your landscape and gardens? The All-America Selections website has a list of all past winners since 1933.

For more information about gardening, check out the University of Illinois Extension website Watch Your Garden Grow at web.extension.illinois.edu/veggies or the Illinois Extension Horticulture YouTube channel at go.illinois.edu/UniversityOfIllinoisExtensionHorticulture.