Classic AAS Winners for Your Garden!
Written by Mark Dwyer
Landscape Prescriptions by MD
When I was the Director of Horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, WI), we enjoyed our relationship with All-America Selections (AAS) and we were always proud to display a wide range of award-winning plants with a heavy focus on the annuals. The beauty and performance of these winners was matched by the enthusiasm of our visitors who enjoyed seeing such wonderful color and texture in the garden. We created displays of historic AAS Winners three separate times, always to rave reviews! It was amazing to see how AAS Winners from 50-80 years ago have stood the test of time and continue to delight today.
Varieties of all sorts of plants come and go every year due to breeding improvements, new introductions, crop failures, and changes in consumer preferences. The fact that many AAS winners are still available is a testament not only to their breeding but also to their popularity with gardeners for so many years.
“Imagine growing a zinnia that your great grandmother may have grown in her garden! “
AAS winners are destined for broad promotion and enjoyment and the history of this well-managed organization and program (founded in 1932) is filled with wonderful plants for growers and home gardeners alike! Being designated an AAS Winner not only means proven performance but also an impressive longevity in regards to future availability.
Why not consider trying some of these historic winners in your own garden in the future?
Knowing these selections have a proven track record of decades of success makes them a slam dunk for performance in the garden. Imagine showing your neighbors a nasturtium variety from the 1930s, a petunia variety from 1950, and marigold varieties that are over 50 years old! These varieties and more are listed below as just some of the winners still available. Growing these varieties also helps ensure their future availability.
12 AAS Historical Winners To Grow in Your Garden
The Mexican tulip poppy features feathery, blue-green foliage with clear lemon-yellow blooms hovering above the foliage from summer until fall. While drought-tolerant, drainage is vital. Reaches 24” in height.
Smothered in bright scarlet, semi-double blooms, this semi-trailing form is excellent for hanging baskets, window boxes, and containers. Reaching 12-24” in size, the leaves and flowers are edible (peppery taste).
This low-maintenance, fast-growing, and weather-resistant selection features large, open pink blooms followed by spidery seed pods. This classic variety (3-5’ tall) never disappoints and is mostly pest and disease-free.
The fully or semi-double blooms (3-4” diameter) on this classic variety are a deep purple fading to lilac with age. Strong stems and mildew resistance make this 30-36” tall selection a standout in any full sun garden.
This heirloom sport of the popular ‘Heavenly Blue’ variety features powder-blue flowers with a darker blue star radiating from the center. Excellent coverage from this vine. Be aware of reseeding issues.
This free-flowering, bushy and compact selection was the first “true red” petunia although the older flowers fade to a soft red. Reaching 12-18” tall, this Gold Winner classic selection is also lightly fragrant.
This Central American native doesn’t mind it hot and dry. Featuring velvety stems and quick growth to 6’ or taller, ‘Torch’ produces 3” diameter, orange-red blossoms from summer until fall and will be a magnet for monarchs.
The deep magenta-red, textural blooms are held on stiff stems and lend themselves to both fresh and dried arrangements. This selection is also quite tolerant of both heat and humidity and will reach a height of 24”.
This robust selection will reach 36” in height and features 4-5” diameter, golden-yellow, double blooms on sturdy stems. The dark center of the flower is also evident on this old classic – perfect for cutting!
This still popular selection reaches 20” in height and features 4” diameter, double, sunny yellow flowers that are held above the foliage. Weather-resistant with strong stems, this is an excellent variety for mass plantings!
This selection features 4” double and semi-double blooms in a mix of yellow, salmon, red, rose, pink, orange, and white. A great flower to add to your background and reseeds itself to come back year after year.
Blooming reliably through the heat, this variety displays a profusion of semi-double blooms featuring dark orange petals rimmed in gold. Reaching only 10-12” in height, this blooming powerhouse also won the RHS Award for Garden Merit in the UK.
“This post is provided as an education/inspirational service of All-America Selections. Please credit and link to All-America Selections when using all or parts of this article.”