Arizona Apricot Gaillardia Meet the Plants of the Year 2015!

Home gardeners might be noticing more Coleus, Gaillardia, and Sweet Peppers in their local nurseries, big-box stores, and catalogs this year. That's because the National Garden Bureau (NGB) has declared these to be the "Plants of the Year 2015," and has partnered with gardening companies to offer not only more varieties, but also more information about these plants. It's part of an effort to educate Americans about gardening as more and more people become interested in growing vegetables and flowers at home.

"Right now we're in a golden age of home gardening," reports Sue Amatangelo, brand manager for Park Seed, a mail-order gardening company that has been offering seeds and plants since 1868. "Between the 'eat local,' 'grow your own food,' 'go organic,' and container garden movements, Americans have more reasons than ever to begin a garden."

And for those who have little gardening experience, the NGB is a great resource. Every year this non-profit organization highlights one annual, one perennial, and one edible plant. "Each is chosen because they are popular, easy-to-grow, widely adaptable, genetically diverse, and versatile," according to the NGB website. Plenty of growing information is provided, and the major seed and plant companies -- most of whom, like Park Seed Company, voluntarily partner with the NGB -- offer a wide range of varieties for each of the Plants of the Year, encouraging gardeners to try something new.

So what's in the field for 2015? According to Amatangelo, there's something for everyone! "Coleus is a fantastic choice of annual, because it's so easy to start from seed," she reports. "It's a perfect project for parents and kids. Its leaves are all different colors and shapes, and you get to see that right from the time they are tiny seedlings. Or take a look at the 'Under the Sea' Coleus plants," she advises. "You've never seen such wild stuff -- leaves that look like coral and sea creatures!"

And for busy gardeners, the native American perennial Gaillardia is a great low maintenance choice for hot, thirsty gardens. "There's been a revolution in Gaillardia breeding in the past few years," says Amatangelo. "First was 'Oranges & Lemons,' with amazing quilled flowers by the hundred. Then they came up with the AAS-winning 'Arizona' series, the first-ever Gaillardia to bloom the first year from seed."

Focusing on Sweet Peppers as this year's edible, Amatangelo reports, has increased awareness of the many types of beyond the popular bell pepper. "Hungarian Wax, banana, bull's horn, cherry -- so many to try!" And classifying a variety as "sweet" or "hot" isn't always easy. "For instance, when you taste new AAS winner 'Sweet Sunset' banana pepper, it's spicy yet sugary," she says. "There are so many levels of flavor."

If the NGB and its partner seed and plant companies have their way, Americans will soon be enjoying the exotic foliage of Coleus, beautiful blooms of Gaillardia, and plenty of delicious sweet peppers. Three great garden-starters to look for in 2015!

For more information on the plants of the year, visit parkseed.com or contact us directly by calling our public relations department at 1-864-941-4521.

Happy gardening!