It's never too early to start planning new additions to this year's gardens and containers. Start compiling your list now to be 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 lauded for their superior performance in home gardens and containers.
Coral Candy Coleus, the first coleus grown from seed selected as an AAS Winner, is uniformly compact and has unique narrow, serrated, multicolored leaves. AAS judges found that this variety maintained color even when grown in full sun, performed well all season and had almost no flowers.
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. And 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-inch-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 proved 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.
Make space in the vegetable garden for the high-yielding Kabocha Sweet Jade winter squash. The fruit weighs between 1 and 2 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.
Grow San Joaquin jalapeno pepper when looking for big harvests in a short time frame. 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.
Grow a few of these 2023 winners for a new look to some longtime favorites. Knowing that they 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 Midwest Gardener's Handbook" and "Small Space Gardening." She hosts the Great Courses' "How to Grow Anything" DVD series and the syndicated "Melinda's Garden Moment" program on TV and radio.