FROM THE GROUND UP: Get inspired by the new All-America Selections

Zinnia “Queeny Lime Orange,” a 2018 All-America Selections winner.
Zinnia “Queeny Lime Orange,” a 2018 All-America Selections winner. PHOTO COURTESY OF AAS Selections

There’s a lot that has to happen before flowers come popping out in our gardens. Even before the seeds show up in store displays and garden catalogues, there are years of development, trial and error, striving for certain characteristics worthy of introducing to the public. One of the steps along the way is in-ground trials of the new varieties: how will they hold up under normal growing conditions?

One of the oldest and most respected trials is the All-America Selections process, where dozens of new flowers, vegetables, and ornamental plants are put to the test. Only the best are selected as AAS winners. Here are the 2018 AAS flower winners.

Zinnia elegans “Queeny Lime Orange”

What a beauty! This robust, low-care plant blooms from summer through frost, producing two- to four-inch flowers on one-and-a-half to two-foot stems, in evolving shades of lime, yellow, peach, salmon, and orange. Like other zinnias, “Queeny” likes full sun, is drought tolerant, and needs no staking. Deadheading is recommended. Makes an excellent cutting flower, lasting up to three weeks without preservatives or feed. Pollinator friendly.


Canna generalis “South Pacific Orange”

Stunning color! All summer long, this new canna bears nearly five-inch orange flowers on stalks ranging to four feet tall, the color contrasting beautifully with the bright green foliage. Its fairly compact habit makes it suitable for both in-ground and container planting. “South Pacific Orange” is more vigorous and more uniform than comparison plants. Tolerates heat and rain; perfect for our steamy summers. It grows from seed, not tubers, making it less susceptible to disease. Judges commented on the beautiful, unique, soft orange color. Excellent plant for attracting pollinators.

Gypsophila muralis (Baby’s Breath) “Gypsy White Improved”

So many blossoms! “Gypsy” has a low, mounded habit, growing to ten inches tall, and bearing small, white flowers during spring and summer. Perfect as a low edging, as a ground cover, in containers, and in hanging baskets. Pollinator friendly. Does best under cool and bright conditions but will tolerate warmer temperatures if given sufficient moisture and afternoon shade. Overall, Gypsophilia is sensitive to drought stress so do not allow plants to wilt severely as they will not recover well. Judges noted the bright, white color, the fullness of the plant and number of blossoms, and better resistance to rust and mildew.

Cuphea hybrid “FloriGlory Diana”

Non-stop flowers! Also known as Mexican Heather, this compact annual requires little care as long as given full sun. It is drought tolerant (prefers normal to dry soil, but tolerates rain, wind, and heat), and requires no staking or deadheading. The mounded plants grow to about a foot tall, with glossy dark-green foliage, and small, magenta flowers that bloom from late spring all the way through to frost. Suitable for low edging, containers, and hanging baskets. Pollinator friendly. Judges commented on the incredible quantity of flowers and the long bloom season.

Marigold (Tagetes patula) “Super Hero Spry”

A bright, happy little flower! The bushy, compact plants of this French crested marigold variety grow to about a foot tall and bloom from summer to frost in vibrant yellow and red bicolor flowers. Suitable for the garden, as a low edging, or a container plant. Pollinator friendly. Drought tolerant, but should not be allowed to wilt. Fertilize every two weeks. Deadhead to encourage flowering. Judges noted its “crisp pattern” and rich color, good late-summer performance, easy to grow, and “perfect for introducing gardening to children.”

Note: All-America Selections was founded in 1932 and continues as the oldest independent testing organization in North America. Every year, new, never-before-sold varieties are grown in their Trial Grounds and professional horticulturists determine which varieties will be deemed winners based on their garden performance. For more information on these and other AAS winners, and to enjoy beautiful photos, go to

Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener who lives in Kimberton. Direct e-mail to, or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442. Join the conversation at “Chester County Roots,” a Facebook page for gardeners in the Delaware Valley. Go to Facebook, search for Chester County Roots, and “like” the page. To receive notice of updates, click or hover on “Liked” to set your preferences.