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All-America honors go to top new plants for 2023

Coral-hued coleus, determinate jalapeño and new Roma-style tomato make the list

This AAS-winning Coral Candy coleus is part of the Premium Sun series hybridized by PanAmerican Seed.

This AAS-winning Coral Candy coleus is part of the Premium Sun series hybridized by PanAmerican Seed. Courtesy All-America Selections

What’s coming to nurseries in 2023? Judging by these winners, we’ll be oohing over variegated foliage and aahing about orange snapdragons. Plus we’ll be mighty impressed by a pint-size kabocha squash and jalapeños that ripen all at once.

The All-America Selections (AAS) for 2023 were recently announced with national honors going to five flowers and vegetables plus a regional nod to a Midwest-oriented tomato (with Yolo County ties). These plants are expected to show up in nurseries and seed catalogs in time for planting next year.

All-America Selections also are featured in the demonstration gardens of the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, tended by Sacramento County master gardeners.

AAS is considered “North America’s most well-known and respected non-profit plant trialing organization,” according to its website. “All AAS Winners are trialed throughout North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges who grow new, never-before-sold entries next to comparisons that are considered best-in-class. Only those entries that have superior garden performance, better than the comparisons, are granted the AAS award designation.”

And the winners are:

– Coral Candy coleus, part of the Premium Sun series hybridized by PanAmerican Seed. This is the first seed-grown coleus to win AAS honors in the Seed category. Its narrow, deeply serrated leaves combine a vivid shade of coral bordered with dark green. Says the AAS, “Just three seeds will produce enough substance to fill a 14- to 16-inch container!”

– Waikiki colocasia, part of the Royal Hawaiian series, bred by John Cho of the University of Hawaii. The first AAS-winning colocasia (better known as elephant ear or taro), Waikiki has striking tri-color leaves with pink veins, emerald green borders and creamy centers.

– DoubleShot Orange Bicolor snapdragon, from Hem Genetics. This All-American comes from The Netherlands and was a hit with stateside judges. “The stunning open-faced double flowers emerge in beautiful warm shades of orange and orange-red that transition to a dusty shade as they age,” say the judges.

– San Joaquin jalapeño pepper, from Bejo Seeds of Oceano in San Luis Obispo County. What makes this jalapeño different? It’s determinate, so all the fruit (50-plus per plant) ripen at one time. “Perfect for canning, pickling and making roasted stuffed jalapeños for a crowd,” says the AAS. “Judges loved the flavor of the thick-walled fruits that have just a hint of heat at 2500-6000 Scoville units.”

5 small green kabocha squash on a wooden bench
Sweet Jade kabochas are smaller than typical.

– Sweet Jade kaboocha squash, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. “Each fruit is between 1 to 2 pounds and can be used for single servings of squash, as an edible soup bowl or in any number of Asian-style dishes where a sweet, earthy nutritious squash is typically used,” says AAS.

And because we have to have a tomato on this list, AAS added this Midwest Regional Winner (that also will grow well here in Sacramento):

– Zensei tomato, from Bayer Seminis Seeds. This may be a Midwest winner, but it has locally grown connections. Bayer Vegetable R&D is based in Woodland. Says the AAS, “Zenzei is an early-maturing, high-yielding Roma tomato … perfect for canning and freezing. Neat and tidy plants produce fruits that are uniformly shaped and are easy to harvest on unique bushy yet indeterminate plants.”

Look for these new varieties in nurseries and seed catalogs in 2023.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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