For the Love of Zinnias
Affable, affordable, and infinitely happy-go-lucky, zinnias are the sort of kick-yourshoes-off, toss-away-your-inhibitions kind of flower you want to hang with all summer long. Easy to grow in the home garden, zinnias also make a strong presence at farmer’s markets. They have a relatively short shelf life so might not last long enough to travel across the globe in prime shape, but they can certainly make it to the local market in fine fettle, giving grateful customers many days of cheerful color. And what other flower features a similar color range on a budget? Zinnias bear big, bold, blowsy blossoms that declare summer in no uncertain terms. Their flower heads vie with old cabbage roses for petal counts jammed into massive heads. Or they form little button-size pom-poms. With all the variations, it’s surprisingly easy to find something to love about zinnias.
Plant at a glance: Zinnia
Common name: Zinnia
Botanical name: Zinnia elegans cultivars
Height: Plants vary from 12 to 48 inches depending on cultivar.
Conditions: Full sun is critical. Plant in well-drained, fertile soil.
Planting: Wait until danger of frost is past.
Watering: Avoid overhead sprinklers, and provide good drainage. Water when planting. After that, water only during a drought.
Fertilizing: Zinnias dote on fertilizer, especially when they’re forming buds. But don’t overdo it.
Flowers: Ranging in width from button-size to giant 4- to 5-inch flowers (available in the Benary’s Giants Series), the double-petal varieties are more popular than the Mexican hat-shape singles. The color range includes white, yellow, gold, salmon, pink, orange, red, purple, and green.
Containers: The Profusion Series is great in containers.
Problems: Can suffer from powdery mildew—the Persian Carpet types are particularly susceptible to leaf spot diseases, bacterial wilt, and stem rot (increase air circulation to avoid it).
Hardiness: Treat as an annual north of Zone 10; hot weather in Southern regions can cause zinnias to stop flowering.
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