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What will be the hot flowers of 2023?

All-America Selection winners include new salvia, coneflower and groundcover Shasta daisy

Shasta daisy hybrid
Carpet Angel is a new groundcover Shasta daisy, among the just-announced 2023 All-America Selections perennial winners. (Photos courtesy All-America Selections)

Gardeners are always looking ahead. We have to! It takes time to go from seed to bloom or harvest.

So, in the middle of Summer 2022, we’re looking forward to Summer 2023 and the new varieties we’ll see (and grow) next year.

Whetting our appetite for new flowers is the announcement this week of the first 2023 All-America Selections winners. The AAS committee dribbles out its winners list, and the first to be revealed are three perennials that are improvements on old favorites.

National perennial winner is a pretty blue sage that can handle both extreme cold and blast-furnace heat. Blue By You salvia ( https://tinyurl.com/m5bm86cd ), developed by Chicago-based Darwin Perennials, offers six months of bloom with little effort.

Blue salvia
Blue By You salvia is a national AAS winner.
“With excellent winter hardiness and heat tolerance, Blue by You will be a new favorite in your perennial, pollinator, cutting and container gardens,” predicts the AAS committee. “Bursting with bright blue blossoms from late spring into fall, you’ll get repeat blooms throughout the season when spent blooms are removed.”

A hybrid between Salvia nemorosa and Salvia pratensis , Blue by You is a bee magnet. It needs average irrigation and grows about 20 to 22 inches tall. Another plus: Deer don’t like it.

Two regional winners also were revealed: A hybrid coneflower and a groundcover Shasta daisy.

Artisan Yellow Ombre echinacea ( https://tinyurl.com/5xyxwy6w ), developed by PanAmerican Seed (which does a lot of plant breeding and testing in Yolo County), is an improved coneflower with strong, straight stems – great for cutting. Named the Southeast and Northwest regional winner, it grows 24 to 30 inches tall and blooms continuously for months.

(Both Darwin Perennials and PanAmerican Seed are part of Ball Horticultural.)

“Artisan Yellow Ombre is a great plant for anyone wanting vibrant color all season long in their perennial garden, or to use as a cut flower,” says the AAS committee.

Golden coneflowers
Artisan Yellow Ombre coneflower was named a regional winner.

“This is the first F1 hybrid echinacea series that comes in individual colors. This winner, with an intense golden yellow bloom along with graduated colors of yellow, is a gem in the garden. AAS Judges were impressed with the uniform growth habit, vibrantly colored flowers, and multi-branched plants that produce a prolific number of blooms. Pollinators will flock to this echinacea, and gardeners will love this low-maintenance, long-blooming beauty.”

Other colors in the Artisan series of coneflowers (so far) include Red Ombre and Soft Orange.

The most unusual All-America Selection winner may be the groundcover Shasta daisy Carpet Angel ( https://tinyurl.com/5n873mun ); it was named the West regional winner. The only AAS winner of its kind, it’s also the first AAS winner for breeder Green Fuse Botanicals of Santa Paula, Calif.

“Green Fuse Botanicals’ First Light Perennials is a program of first-year flowering perennials that are day-length neutral, meaning earlier blooms that continue all season long,” explains the AAS committee. “Large 3-inch flowers boast a second inner frilly bloom adding to the unique look of Carpet Angel.

"Growing only to a height of 6 inches, this unique Leucanthemum can act as a groundcover spreading up to 20 inches wide. Fantastic branching on this new AAS winner means more flower stems sporting beautiful pure white blooms that look like angels dancing over a carpet of dark green foliage. A little deadheading of spent flowers will reward you with even more blooms.”

Look for these plants in nurseries and plant catalogs next spring.

Learn more about All-America Selections and how these plants were tested: https://all-americaselections.org/ .


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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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