How to grow Zinnias

FAMILY Compositae

SIZE

English: A bunch of zinnias of varying colors.

Image via Wikipedia

Height:

60cm (2ft)

Spread: 30cm(l2in)

TOLERANCE

HABIT bushy

GROWTH quick

FLOWERS Summer

These are colourful annuals that have been popular with gardeners for many generations. However, they are dependent on a fine, sunny Summer to give their best, but their continuous display of colour in such conditions makes their popularity easy to understand.

These plants are members of the Daisy family and, in some ways, their flowers resemble those of some Dahlias and Chrysanthemums. Those in cultivation are usually double or semi-double, the former being the most common. They come in a wide range of yellows, oranges, reds and pinks.

The main disadvantage of Zinnias is that they do not like damp conditions. They are likely to contract Botrytis and rot off. The other problem is that they resent root disturbance, so they should be grown in¬dividually in pots, or sown directly in the soil where they are to flower.

Although they can be used as container plants, Zinnias are normally used as bedding plants, either with other annuals or mixed with perennial plants in a herbaceous or mixed border.

Most seed is sold as a mixture of colours, but there are some named strains that consist of one variety only. ‘Chippen-dale’ is one of the ‘Old-Fashioned Varieties’ that has semi-double blooms of a rich deep red with golden tips to the petals. ‘Envy Double’ is a double with pale green petals. ‘Rose PinwheeP has semi-doubles, which open pink and then darken with age. ‘Thumbelina’ is one of the shortest; being only about 15cm (6in) in height.

It is essential that these plants receive lots of sun, so plant in the sunniest spot in the garden.

Water when they are first planted out, but do not soak the soil too much or they will rot off. Only water thereafter if the plant looks as though it needs it.

Plant in a fertile, but free-draining, soil.

These plants are not hardy and cannot be over-wintered in the ground. They have an intense dislike of wet, muggy weather and are unlikely to succeed in wet years.

Some of the taller varieties may need to be staked for support.

Sow seed, under glass, in March and prick out into individual pots as early as possible. In May, they can be sown directly where they are to flower.

Some of the taller varieties are suitable for cutting for the house. Among these are ‘Pepper¬mint Sticker’, which is of mixed colours, but with distinctive striped petals. Also worth trying is “Scabious Flowered’. A good cutting form, which has smaller flowers, is “Lilliput Mixed’.

Plant Surgery

Zinnias are very prone to Botrytis and Mildew, but they can be sprayed in wet Summers to prevent these. Always make certain that the soil is free draining and that the plants are not planted so tightly that air cannot circulate around them.

 

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