The American Garden Award competition for 2014 opened on May 1 and will run until September 30, 2014. This competition is open for voting to all of the gardening public.
This year’s plant contestants are: Celosia ‘Arrabona Red,’ Cuphea ‘Sriracha™ Violet,’ Foxglove Digiplexis™ Illumination® Flame and Petunia ‘Sanguna® Radiant Blue.’
How will you decide which garden flower is worthy of your vote? Will you get inspiration from a pretty picture or visit a nearby botanical garden to see the flowers? Will you grow the selections in your own garden? It is all up to you, the home gardener.
Criteria for Selecting Winning Flowering Plants
The flowers in the American Garden Award selection in 2014 are now available to grow at home. Horticultural professionals have judged them in other competitions, although they have not been trialed by All-America Selections judges to date.
Home gardeners, like yourself, may use a myriad of criteria for deciding which flower you think is the best: It could be the color, plant form, or the plant’s ability to withstand periods of time with no water.
To help write up your criteria, consider what we know about the Celosia ‘Arrabona Red,’ Cuphea ‘Sriracha™ Violet,’ Foxglove Digiplexis™ Illumination® Flame and Petunia ‘Sanguna® Radiant Blue.’
Celosia Arrabona Red for Cutting Gardens
Celosia ‘Arrabona Red’ was named a Fleuroselect Gold Medal New Plant winner in 2013; judged by professional plant growers for its higher germination rate when compared with other celosia. Home gardeners who like to start their plants from seed may list germination rate high on their criteria because the annual is popular for growing from seed.
Celosia plumosa ‘Arrabona Red,’ like other varieties, prefers being directly sown into warm soil outside and, because organic seeds are available, it will grow true from saved seed, as well.
In addition, Celosia ‘Arrabona Red’ has strong branching and an extra-long bloom time. For gardeners, who live in mildly warm climates well into late fall, this celosia will extend their selection of annual flowers.
Celosia ‘Arrabona Red’ is scarlet red with a hint of orange, which is sure to shine in the summer sun. The flower is a feathery plume, alone measuring 6” – 10” tall and one sure to earn appreciation for its inclusion in craft projects; another reason home gardeners love celosia for cutting gardens.
Cuphea Sriracha Violet: Unusual Flower
Cuphea ‘Sriracha™ Violet’ is a F1 (hybrid) plant and part of a series with many colors. Most gardeners treat Cuphea as an annual; except for those living in zone 9 where it is a hardy plant.
The tubular flower has lipped edges in the center showing off a white interior. The bushy plant grows a packed appearance, stuffed with many blooms, which flowers all summer making it perfect for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Cuphea llavea ‘Srirach Violet’ grows 14” – 18” tall and widens out as much. Despite its appearance as a small shrub, it grows equally well in a large container and does not need staking to keep it upright, nor is it a messy plant requiring deadheading to look neat.
Like Celosia ‘Arrabona Red,’ Cuphea llavea ‘Sriracha Violet’ tolerates drought conditions and heat when given consistent watering.
Bicolor Pattern Petunia Sanguna Radiant Blue
Garden centers have benches filled with petunia plants of every color, every growing season. But gardeners are so fond of the little annual plant with big summer blooms; we cannot seem to help ourselves when one more is found. Meet Petunia Sanguna® Radiant Blue.
Petunia ‘Sanguna Radiant Blue’ is a one-of-kind bi-color due to its pattern of blue that gradually fades into a white ring which appears to fall into its throat. Imagine a hanging basket carpeted with the blue bi-colored flowers at the top of the pot and long stems dripping down with those same blue blooms.
Petunia ‘Sanguna Radiant Blue’ grows flowers 3” – 4” diameter on a plant that reaches 8” – 10” tall. When planting a mass of Radiant Blue consider that the stems spread 16” – 18” and need a space of 12” – 14” between each plant for good air circulation.
The summer annuals celosia, cuphea, and petunia like a full sun location to produce a colorful bouquet of flowers in the garden.
Hybrid Foxglove Digiplexis Illumination
The most unusual of all the 2014 choices is Digiplexis™ Illumination®, not only for its moniker, but especially for its unexpected color. The individual tubular flower of this foxglove is a purplish-deep rose, which fades to light pink on the outside, and has a light orange interior.
Fortunately, this foxglove has retained its characteristic freckled lips. The botanical name for this foxglove is Digitalis ‘Illumination Flame.’ It is an intergeneric hybrid; a cross between the purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and the Isoplexis canariensis.
Digitalis ‘Illumination Flame’ has won at several plant shows: Best New Plant of the Year 2012 at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, Greenhouse Growers 2013 Award of Excellence, and the 2013 People’s Choice Award at the Farwest Trade Show in Portland, Oregon.
Gardeners traditionally have treated the biennial Digitalis as a short-lived perennial in the United States. Beloved for their ability to re-seed, foxgloves are stalwarts in cottage gardens no matter the continent.
Unfortunately, Digitalis ‘Illumination Flame’ is sterile and not expected to produce seed.
The large stature of Digiplexis™ Illumination®, producing a flower spike of 36” tall, will be beneficial for attracting bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
How to Vote for an American Garden Award Plant
Gardeners may vote on Celosia ‘Arrabona Red,’ Cuphea ‘Sriracha™ Violet,’ Foxglove Digiplexis™ Illumination® Flame and Petunia ‘Sanguna® Radiant Blue’ for the 2014 American Garden Award.
Plant trials take place around the world every year when professional growers submit their plants to competitions and horticultural judges choose the winning plants.
Now it is your turn. Learn about the plants by visiting one of North America’s public display gardens growing these flowers, by growing them yourself, or by reading about them.
Use your own criteria to judge the worthiness of each flower, and then vote in person or online at American Garden Award.
Editorial Note: Although the resources for this article include links to the creators of these plants, none are affiliate links – they are simply made available for your further information.