Zinnias, however, are still zinnias and are some of the easiest seeds to sow and grow. Zinnias are recommended for novice gardeners because they don’t demand much effort, only needing sun, warmth and enriched soil that drains well. Zinnia seeds may be sewn in the garden in late April or early May.
The flower is named after Johann Gotfried Zinn (1727-59), a German professor of botany who grew the plant after discovering it in the New World of Mexico, Central America and the southwest.
To sow the seeds, sprinkle them in an inch-deep row and cover with soil. When seedlings reach 4 inches in height, give them a light application of 5-10-5 liquid fertilizer. Keep damp but do not water excessively.
To have bushier flowers, pinch off an inch or so from the tips of the main stem while plants are young. Regularly deadhead the older flowers, and stake taller plants as they begin to fall over. A second application of 5-10-5 should be applied again in midsummer. Zinnias have no major insect problems but are susceptible to mildew, which causes foliage to become discolored and plants to lose vigor and wilt.
The new Profusion Series has vivid shades of apricot, orange and coral zinnias, which grow to 12-15 inches tall and tolerate heat and humidity. Whirligig/Swizzle, another new series, comes in scarlet, peach, cherry and ivory. The Zinderella Series, also new, comes in lilac and peach. The Zahara Series, a 2014 All-American winner, is available in starlight rose, raspberry and sunburst.
All gardeners should grow zinnias for their beauty and durability.
“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants
as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.”
– Elizabeth Murray