• My gardening juices are flowing with the change of the calendar year. A great way to get inspired about new varieties to grow in your garden is checking out the award winners. These annual flowers have been trialed around the country and are either regional or national winners as part of the All-America Selections trial program. Although plenty of other new flowers will be available, it’s good to see what the experts think are some of the best.
  • 916‘Suntastic’ Sunflower: This hybrid variety only grows 2 feet tall and produces a plethora of 5 to 6 inch diameter yellow flowers with a black center. ‘Suntastic’ blooms in waves of five to six flowers, often producing three waves of flowers during the growing season. They take sixty-five days to bloom from direct sowing, but you can shorten that time by starting seeds indoors four weeks before your last frost date. ‘Suntastic’ is an award winner in the Great Lakes region but may be worth a try no matter where you garden.‘Sparkle White’ Gaura: I love the airy beauty of gaura annual flowers. ‘Sparkle White’ has white flowers blushed in pink that stand 2 feet above the ground. They bloom consistently all summer. This national winner is more heat tolerant than other varieties. Gaura looks best planted in masses in the middle or back of a flower garden so you can enjoy the tall flowers as they dance in the breeze.

    ‘African Sunset’ Petunia: Just when you thought there couldn’t be another new-colored petunia, ‘African Sunset’ shows up on the scene. ‘African Sunset’ is a national winner that features amazingly bright, orange flowers. The 12-inch-tall plant spreads about 20 inches wide, producing orange blooms consistently and uniformly all summer long. This is a great addition to the flower border if you want to grow loud-colored flowers that will stand out when viewed from a distance.