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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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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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