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March Mania

Hot new award-winning flowers and vegetables for 2020

Don Kinzler, Growing Together and Fielding Questions columnist. The Forum1 / 13
Main Street Beale Street Coleus: The first-ever coleus to receive an AAS award, it uniquely can be grown in full sun or shade, and the deep red foliage holds the rich color better than comparable types. It doesn’t produce seed heads until late in the season, so it maintains vigor longer. Bushy plants grow to 24-36 inches for flower beds or large containers. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum2 / 13
Baja Burgundy Sombrero Echinacea: Deep violet to rose-red blossoms make great cut flowers. It’s a perennial, like other Echinacea types, and has shown reliable winter-hardiness in zone 4. Add a layer of mulch in autumn for success in zone 3. It’s a prolific bloomer on sturdy, well-branched plants growing to 18 to 20 inches. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum3 / 13
Tip Top Rose Nasturtium: A strong yet compact nasturtium with unique and showy rose-colored flowers borne above medium green foliage on 18-inch mounded plants. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum4 / 13
American Gold Rush Rudbeckia: Bright, golden-yellow flowers with black centers and arched petals are borne on plants 22 inches high. A very showy, long-blooming perennial, hardy in zone 4, it's described as especially striking when used in a mass planting. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum5 / 13
Green Light Cucumber: Fruits are attractive, mature early, are seedless and taste great, even without peeling. Each plant yields 40 or more spineless fruits, which are best picked when small, between 3 and 4 inches long. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum6 / 13
Blue Prince Pumpkin: Vigorous trailing vines produce 7- to 9-pound beautiful blue flattened edible pumpkins with non-stringy, deep orange flesh with savory sweetness. These pumpkins are as pretty as they are delicious. After fall decorating, bake the flesh for a smooth and creamy treat. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum7 / 13
Apple Yellow Tomato: An apple-shaped fruit with a deliciously sweet citrusy taste and firm, meaty texture that can reportedly yield up to 1,000 fruits per large plant. (However, at 110 days from garden transplant to first fruiting, it’s very late for North Dakota and Minnesota, where our best-adapted main season tomatoes bear fruit in about 75 days.) All-America Selections / Special to The Forum8 / 13
Celano Tomato: In comparing it to other grape tomatoes on the market, one judge summed it up by saying, “It’s sweeter, the texture is better, the color is deeper, the plants are healthier, and the yield is phenomenal.” All-America Selections / Special to The Forum9 / 13
Chef’s Choice Bicolor Tomato: Indeterminate plants produce large 7- to 8-ounce flattened beefsteak fruits with beautiful pinkish red internal stripes within a yellow flesh. These heirloom looking tomatoes are as sweet as they are beautiful with a great flavor, 75 days from garden transplanting. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum10 / 13
Early Resilience Tomato: A rounded Roma tomato with a deep red interior color and good quality flesh for canning and cooking and could replace other Roma varieties as a new standard. (But ripening at 115 days, it’s extremely late for North Dakota and Minnesota gardens.) All-America Selections / Special to The Forum11 / 13
Galahad Tomato: High-yielding, strong, determinate plants produce large, sweet, meaty-flavored tomato fruits that resist cracking. Plants are disease-resistant and begin bearing 75 days from transplanting. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum12 / 13
Mambo Watermelon: Perfectly round 9-inch fruit weighs about 11 pounds, ripening about 75 days from transplant. A smaller seed cavity means you almost get the look of a seedless melon but the superior taste of a seeded melon with deep red, crisp flesh. All-America Selections / Special to The Forum13 / 13

FARGO — There’s a reason I look forward to January every year. It’s when the new All-America Selections award-winning flowers and vegetables are announced, and it’s exciting.

All-America Selections is the only national nonprofit in North America that tests new varieties of flowers and vegetables. AAS started in 1932 as a way for home gardeners to learn which of the many new varieties introduced each year actually are “new and improved,” and not just advertised as such. If a new variety is awarded AAS winner status, we can be reasonably assured that it’s well worth planting.

Through the years, the list of winners includes some heavyweights that became household names, like Purple Wave Petunia (1995), Sugar Snap Pea (1979), Straight Eight Cucumber (1935) and Celebrity Tomato (1984). A winner from last year, Yellow Duck Marigold, was one of the all-time best marigolds I’ve ever grown.

Here are the 2020 winners with descriptions by the All-America Selections judging team.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at or call 701-241-5707.