Zillions of Zinnias

ZINNIAS!!!! I am just a full of zeal for zinnias! They’ve been blooming all summer long in the garden and will now take us into fall. From pinwheels to cactus flower shapes to explosions of nearly every color ROYGBIV can offer, these are the bandstand and platform to a cut flower garden.

Native across Mexico and even into parts of South America, zinnias take their genus name from a German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. Mr. Zinn became infatuated with the New World’s flora species. Soon, the gardens across “The Pond” were brimming with zinnias – beds chocked full of bright, fiesta colored, sand-papery leaved mementos of their native land.

Some species of zinnia could serve a small salad on their flower head and some are thimble sized. Petals forming domes, dahlia shaped blooms, and even firecracker shaped blossoms make these treats for the garden and gardener. Long lasting as cut flowers, you can enjoy each and every shape and color your garden offers.

This Farmer has been growing zinnias for as long as he can remember. They are one of Mimi’s favorite flowers, reseeded themselves readily at the farm, and are right and regular mainstays in the Southern garden. Good Friday, the benchmark day for seed and transplant planting in the Deep South, and Easter weekend is when I remember (and still do plant) planting zinnia seeds, usually because I got a few packets of seeds in my Easter basket. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring; meaning, that the last frost is nigh. Though we often have a frost or chill around Easter, that weekend still reels true as the time to plant young transplants and seeds. Quite symbolic too if you ask me…planting and covering with earth and having new life rising up from said earth…not a bad Easter illustration.

Part of the benefit of planting flowers such as zinnias at Easter is the commencement of a staggered planting plan, providing you and your garden with buckets of blooms from the first to last frosts. I have found that planting in succession, say two to three week intervals, ensures your garden with seasons of blossoms to enjoy and arrange. When the first crop is tired or spent, the next, or successive crops, are coming in strong right behind the first.

Zinnias benefit from deadheading and what better way to dead head than by snipping flowers for arrangements!? Mounds of these colorful florets, a single blossom, or a tonal hued tableau are easy ways to enjoy these prizes from the garden. I love to use old crockery, Mason jars, and vintage glass in fun colors to match the theme of my zinnias’ color ways.

Lots of light, moderate water (don’t overwater) and a fertile, well drained soil will give you zillions of zinnias. If by chance you cannot grow them, farmer’s markets and roadside stands often sell them for a nickel or dime a stem and well worth it for your aesthetic pleasure.

From chartreuse to lavender to red, pink, orange, and every salmon, cream, and lilac in between, I’m sure there is a zinnia shade for you –  and for every shade there is a shape. Explore the New World as the botanist Zinn did but within the comforts of your garden – find a brave new world of zinnias and color your world with their delightful nature! From this Farmer’s garden, I hope you find your zeal for zinnias!

A Few Zinnias I Love to Grow:

  • Burpee Seed Company’s “Cut and Come Again” mix: literally dozens upon dozens of ever color all summer long. I also like Burpee’s “State Fair” and “Oklahoma Mix”
  • ‘Envy’ is a chartreuse zinnia that is fantastic in bouquets and garden borders…that color makes any arrangement, planted or composed, pop! Try ‘Tequila Lime’ for another chartreuse.
  • ‘White Wedding’ from Burpee…pure white…wonderful for late summer evening bouquets to reflect the light…or even a wedding!
  • Zinnia angustifolia or “Narrow Leaf Zinnia” is an all summer all star in beds and pots. Hot and dry is a super climate for these dynamos.
  • Zinnia haageana or the Mexican Zinnia bodes well from south of the border! A true fiesta of colors and texture…late summer is a super time for these and I’ve found that starting from seed in late June and early July helps defeat powdery mildew problems.
  • Profusion series…cherry, orange, and cream colored, these are a definite for the summer annual beds.