The Green Scene: January
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AAS 2019 winners

This month, Prairie Yard & Garden host Mary Holm introduces us to what is behind the All-America Selections (AAS) label — its history and how winners are chosen:

The calendar flips over to a new year and right on cue, the new plant and seed catalogs start to arrive. We may still be shoveling snow, but we can sure start to plan what we would like to add, change or regrow in our yards.

When considering new plants, pay attention to AAS winners. AAS is a non-profit organization that annually trials ornamentals (flowers and grasses), edibles (vegetables and herbs) and even perennials starting in 2019.

Different plant companies submit new varieties to AAS who sends them out to trial or test sites all over the United States and Canada. Morris has a test site: the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) and it’s one of two in Minnesota—the other is located in Minneapolis. The new seeds and plants are grown and evaluated throughout the growing season and compared to older varieties planted right next to the new ones. The growing results are sent back to AAS headquarters and those that performed the best nationally are named AAS winners. If a plant is a winner, it is likely going to be a winner in your yard too.

Not all plants make the grade and sometimes they will list regional winners too. Plants that do great down in the southern heat and humidity might get that regional award, but to get the true AAS award, they need to perform well in all U.S. and Canadian climates.

AAS has been around for 86 years. In addition to the test sites, there are also many more AAS display gardens where they show some of the previous winners. The WCROC has an AAS display garden, plus there are several more display locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

So, how do you know which plants are AAS winners? The tag is the answer! Any plant that has won the AAS award will have it on the tag. The AAS award for plants is like the Academy Award for acting so it very prestigious and the plant tags will be sure to list it. The AAS winners for 2019 are:

Since the AAS program has been around for so long, you have probably used some of the winning varieties without even realizing it. I have always liked the Profusion zinnia series (many of them are award winners) and Bright Lights Swiss chard. Some of my favorite tomato varieties that were AAS winners are big beef and celebrity and I always still try to have them because they do well in my garden.

To see the award winners, you can visit the AAS website. There was also a Prairie Yard & Garden show done on the subject! Happy planning!