Site Administrator - 6th August 2013
Just looking at a vase of brightly colored zinnias makes me smile. They are my Mother’s favorite flower and have always been a favorite of mine too. As a little girl, I remember planting zinnia seeds with my mom, next to our front steps. Many family photos taken with the Brownie camera included the robust and colorful zinnia blooms, although they were in black and white.
Zinnias love the heat of summer and grow to bloom size quickly. We make new plantings of zinnias every month, starting in May, so that we have a continuous assortment of flowers to cut for arrangements. Cut and Come Again and Benary’s Giant Mix are two of my favorite varieties of pincushion type zinnias. They can be 3 to 4 feet tall, so put them in the back of the border or the middle of a garden bed. I also love the frilly blooms of the cactus-flowered zinnias.
Zinnias come in many colors: red, purple, white, yellow, many shades of pink and even a green one called Envy! Butterflies love them and they don’t have many other pest issues, though deer will eat the foliage.
Dwarf zinnias feature brightly colored petite blooms that are marvelous for small vases. They are a great choice for borders or even containers.
Cutting the flowers keeps them blooming longer and keeps the plants straighter and stronger, so don’t be afraid to share bouquets. Cut the flowers and place them in cold water with flower food and allow them to rest several hours or overnight before arranging them, if time allows. That will result in longer lasting arrangements. The flowers may droop a bit just after cutting but will perk back up in a cool spot out of sunlight.
Zinnias aren’t too fussy about fertilizer; just plant them in a fertile soil that is well drained. The one thing they don’t appreciate is water on the foliage. Overhead sprinkling can lead to powdery mildew, a white powder coating on the foliage that will kill the plants quickly. Watering the blooms makes them less attractive to butterflies also. Remove spent blooms on the plants to keep them in bloom. If you cut the blooms consistently, your zinnias may last until the first frost.
Zinnias have been hybridized to produce bedding or landscape zinnias that are sold in 4 inch containers in garden centers. Look for Magellan,Zahara, and Zinnia linearis; all short landscape type zinnias. The stems are short, so they are not cut flower candidates. They have been bred so that they do not require deadheading and have good resistance to mildew, andare a wonderful pop of color tolerant to heat all summer long. Here is a program that I did on The Central Texas Gardener about these wonderful bedding plants.
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