These plants tabbed as top performers for this year

University of Illinois Extension Services

The Begonia Viking Explorer Rose is rated as one of the plants selected to be a top performer for 2022 gardens.

A new year provides the opportunity to try new plants in the garden. With all the plant and seed magazines coming in, it can be difficult to decide on what varieties to pick of your favorite vegetables and flowers.

Fortunately, the All-American Selections (AAS) is an independent non-profit organization that tests new varieties of plants and awards top performers for their superior performance. Below is some information about this year’s national award-winning varieties that might be of some assistance for your 2022 decisions.

Begonia Viking Explorer Rose on Green F1- 2022 AAS Ornamental Winner— This rose is described as being perfect for hanging baskets with its spreading and spilling branches of rose-colored flowers. With season long flower production and tolerance to heat, diseases, and wet and dry conditions, this begonia is sure to be a garden favorite.

Eggplant Icicle F1- 2022 AAS Edible Vegetable Winner —This is a cylindrical white eggplant improved from the traditional eggplant with fewer spines, larger fruit, and fewer seeds. This plant is additionally attractive with its resistance to insect damage and environment; it even has improved taste and texture.

Lettuce Bauer- 2022 AAS Edible Vegetable Winner— Lettuce Bauer is an easy and fast-growing option of lettuce with a darker green color that develops into a uniform compact size. It can easily be grown in-ground, containers, or window boxes.

Pepper Buffy F1- 2022 AAS Edible Vegetable Winner — Makes a great new option in the garden as a delicious hot pepper. This plant produces a juicy, thick walled green to red fruit on strong upright plants. If you’re a fan of some heat, check this one out!

Pepper Dragonfly F1- 2022 AAS Edible Vegetable Winner — This plant an add some color to your garden with their beautiful purple peppers. Much like the dragonflies hovering around your garden, the fruit transforms from a green pepper to purple when it is fully mature.

Petunia Bee’s Knees- 2022 AAS Ornamental Winner — The is an outstanding, eye-catching yellow petunia with the versatility of being mixed into a container, in a hanging basket, or as a groundcover. The Bee’s Knees petunia offers a great addition to the garden with little maintenance.

Sunflower Concert Bell F1- 2022 AAS Ornamental From Seed Winner— Provides a showy flower presentation with clusters of 10 to 12 flowers on each stem. These sunflowers produce beautiful golden yellow blooms that appear earlier in the season. Judges noted the plants durability and sturdiness through storms and winds which we know can be an issue with sunflowers.

Tomato Purple Zebra F1- 2022 Edible Vegetable Winner — As the name suggests, is a fun new striped tomato with a dark red fruit and green stripes. These tomatoes have a sweet and acidic leaning to sweet taste. With high disease resistance, this tomato makes a great option to add to your garden in 2022.

If any of these plants are of interest, you can find more information as well as pictures at

Good Growing Tip: Don’t wait too long to order your seed for 2022. With more people gardening within the last two years, seed availability has been low for many companies.

Katie Parker is a local foods and small farms educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike, and Schuyler counties.