Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
All America Selections has announced its 2006 winners. Among the six flower winners are several that make great cut flowers.
Wow! What else needs to be said about Zowie! Yellow Flame zinnia? This semi-tall growing variety has strong, sturdy stems with the most novel colors you can imagine in a zinnia. These semi-double blossoms are a dynamic bicolor with layer upon layer of petals. Thereís yellow towards the outer tips and scarlet-rose towards the center. The very center has a hint of red as if it were painted on.
Some say the flower really does look like a glowing yellow flame. These fabulous blooms are up to four inches across. When mature, the plants grow to about two to 2Ĺ feet in height with almost an equal spread. If you donít have enough space left in your cutting garden, you can always grow this one in large containers.
From about eight to ten weeks from the time you sow the seeds, Zowie! will begin to bloom. These can be direct sown in the cutting garden where they are to grow. For earlier bloom, plant them about four to six weeks before the expected date of your last frost.
There are many other kinds of annual pinks available, but the new Supra Purple Dianthus is quite unusual. This All America Selections Bedding Plant Award winner has very feathery, fringed, almost lace-like, purple-pink flowers. Around 1Ĺ inches across, these grow on stems about a foot in height. This has an upright growth habit with a spread of almost a foot. Unlike some pinks, this vigorous plant is very tolerant of hot weather. This begins blooming early, about ten to twelve weeks after the seeds are sown.
For best results, sow the seeds of Supra Purple Dianthus indoors about four to six weeks before your expected last frost. Cover the seeds very lightly with the soilless potting mix. Germination, which can take about two to three weeks, is best at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
For unusual color, the best ever floral material by far is the Black Pearl ornamental pepper. This All America Selections Flower Award winner is just perfect for adding unusual touches to late summer bouquets. When grown in full sun, this will have pure black foliage. Along the length of the sixteen inch stems are tiny, perfectly shaped, shiny black peppers. Black Pearl plants are very vigorous, and are very tolerant of heat. They have few if any disease or insect problems.
If you donít have room in your cutting garden, Black Pearl also makes a great choice for container gardens. If at all possible, start the seeds of Black Pearl indoors or in a greenhouse about four to six weeks before the last frost. Cover the seeds, and keep the tray or container at a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit until the seedlings emerge. Germination will take about seven to twelve days.
Seeds of the new 2006 All America Selections winners will be available for the 2006 spring planting season. Plants should be sold at local garden centers and nurseries.