Coleus Main Street Beale Street is the 2020 AAS Annual flower of the year. (Photo courtesy AAS)

The All-America Selections is a non-profit independent organization that tests new varieties of seeds or plants for home gardeners all over the United States.
Its mission is “to promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.”
Seeds and plant cuttings are grown all over North America in trial gardens and once selected are grown in AAS Display Gardens. Parkside High School in Salisbury, Md., has a wonderful display garden that is planted in large standing containers between the parking lot and the greenhouses that the plants start growing in. They are on display all summer long and it is easy to drive up and view them. The tagline for All-America Selections is “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally.”
Flowering plants are chosen for better colors, hardiness, more flowers on each plant and some disease resistance.
Coleus Main Street Beale Street is the 2020 AAS Annual flower of the year. It is the first coleus to be named as an AAS winner its deep red foliage glows all summer long without fading. The plants are naturally uniform in growth growing upright and bushy and don’t begin to flower until very late in the summer. Main Street Beale Street is also a coleus that can thrive in the shade or full sun, making it a wonderful colorful foliage plant to fill in around flowering plants.
Plants thrive in gardens or in containers and can reach heights of 24-30 inches high, making them a great background plant, just needing plenty of water and some fertilizer to keep them healthy.
Echinacea Sombrero Baja Burgundy is the 2020 Herbaceous Perennial winner of the year.
This beautiful Coneflower has vibrant 3-inch-deep, burgundy-red flowers that can be used in a pollinator garden, an herbaceous garden or even in a cutting garden.
A proven hardy perennial, the plants have a sturdy branching habit which provides lots of beautiful flowers. Plant thrive in full sun with low water needs and low fertility. Besides inviting pollinators and native birds, the Echinacea Sombrero Baja Burgundy is relatively deer resistant.
Nasturtium Tip Top Rose is a beautiful annual with bright rose colored 2-inch flowers that bloom against medium green foliage.
Not only are these plants beautiful but the flowers and the foliage are edible and look great in a salad, adding a touch of spice.
The plants grow in a low mound of 14-by-18 inches and have an excellent branching habit to create more flowers than most nasturtiums. Nasturtium Tip Top Rose attracts pollinators and look great in the front of the garden, in an herb garden or spilling over a container.
Plant these pretty annuals in full sun and keep the soil dry to normal and light on fertilizer. Sometimes Nasturtiums grow best when planted from seed, so look for Tip Top Rose Nasturtium seeds for best results.
Black Eyed Susan are the Maryland flower, and the herbaceous Perennial Rudbeckia x American Gold Rush is one of the newest varieties. American Gold Rush has bright canary-gold, arching petals that surround a matt black center creating eye catching 2 inch flowers for the summer garden. Plants are compact and grow upright into a dome shape with narrow hairy foliage that is resistant to the fungal leaf spot the species contracts. American
Gold Rush grows best in full sun with dry to normal soils and, once established is very drought tolerant which is perfect for the Eastern Shore’s sandy soils.
The plants grow 22-24 inches high and bloom from July to September each year.
Plants attract many pollinators and can be planted as a mass planting or in a cutting garden.
The All-America Select also includes vegetables that are more disease resistant, produce more fruit or produce fruit earlier or have an unusual color or flavor.
Cucumber Green Light grows mini cucumbers with a very high yield, attractive fruit that mature early and have a superior eating quality. These cucumbers can be staked on poles for easier harvesting and will produce 40 or more spineless fruits per plant.
As with all cucumbers, the fruit should be picked when they are small, between 3-4 inches long, to produce a delicious cucumber that doesn’t need to be peeled.
Seeds should be planted in full sun after the soil warms up, about 20 inches apart and will produce fruit in 37-42 days while transplants can be harvested in 30-37 days.
Pumpkin Blue Prince scored high with early harvest, excellent yield, good fruit size, uniformity of color, taste and texture. The vigorous vines produce 7- to 9-pound blue flattened pumpkins, about 12 inches in diameter, with deep orange flesh and a savory sweetness. They are great for baking after being used for beautiful fall decorations.
The seed or transplants should be planted in full sun after the soil has warmed up, leaving room for the 4-foot vines to grow and spread out.
They don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer to grow their best.
The fruit will be ready for harvest from transplants in 90 days and from seed in 110 days. They have some tolerance to Southern root rot.
The Tomato Apple Yellow is a 1 1/2-inch, apple-shaped tomato that has a sweet citrus taste and firm meaty texture. The plants are indeterminate growing at least 6 feet tall and can have up to 1,000 fruits per plant. Transplants, or seeds, should be planted in full sun after the soil has warmed up and staked to keep the foliage off the soil.
Plants should be spaced at least 2 feet apart and harvest will be within 120 days. Plants are disease resistant to Tomato yellow leaf curl, Tomato mosaic 2A, Fusarium, Late blight and Bacterial wilt.
An heirloom tomato, Buffalosun, has fruit with better texture than other heirlooms and a high yield with less cracking of the fruit.
The fruit is a lovely yellow with red orange flame coloring and the plants are resistant to Late blight. Transplants or seeds should be planted in full sun when the soil has warmed up. Plants are indeterminate and can grow 5-6 feet tall so staking is recommended. The fruit can grow 4 inches by 2 inches in a beefsteak style and typically produce 15 fruits per plant. Transplants should have harvestable fruit in 70 days while seed plants will have fruit in 110 days.
Plants display high resistance to Fusarium: 1. 2.3., Verticillium albo-atrum wilt, Verticillium and intermediate resistance to Late blight and Tomato Spotted wilt virus.
Tomato Celano is a patio grape tomato with a strong bushy habit, growing best staked or with a tomato cage if planted in a container.
Plants can grow 40 inches tall and 24 inches wide, and produce small very sweet fruit. Plants display tolerance to Late blight.
Tomato Chef’s Choice Bicolor produces a 7- to-8-ounce flattened beefsteak fruit with pink red internal stripes within yellow flesh. The fruit matures early and are very uniform, producing into September.
Plants will produce about 30 very sweet classic tomato flavored fruit per plant. These plants are tolerant to Anthracnose, Scab, Tomato Mosaic Virus and Fusarium.
Tomato Crokini has small fruit that is firm with a crunchy texture and great sweet to acid balance taste.
Each cluster of tomatoes carries 10-12 fruits. Plants show high resistance to Tomato mosaic virus, Fusarium Wilt, leaf mold, and intermediate resistance to root know nematodes, tomato yellow leaf curl, and Late blight.
Tomato Early Resistance is a Roma tomato with a deep red interior color and uniform maturity and great quality flesh for canning and cooking. Plants are very resistant to Blossom End Rot which will give the plants high yields of fruit.
Plants are also resistant to Verticillium, Fusarium, Alternia, and tolerant to Clavibacter michiganensis, Xanthamonas and Phytopthora infestans.
With so many wonderful colorful flowers and fruit, it is hard to wait for spring to come so we can start gardening.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)