When it comes to gardening, zinnias are among the lowest-maintenance blooms you can plant. They need little care, appear in many different forms, hues, and sizes, and are attractive to pollinators. Zinnias are an excellent option if you're looking for flowers that can be trimmed and kept for several uses. In addition, zinnias can be used as a pseudo-perennial flowering shrub to go with your other annuals.
In addition to the vast selection, zinnias are extremely low-maintenance and may be grown anywhere from in-ground plots to containers. They can withstand dry conditions and thrive in a summer garden. Placing a seed in the ground is a simple process. Your base is covered with our semi-fertile, well-drained soil.
Flowers such as zinnias and cosmos are common additions to vegetable gardens in my region. Local horticultural experts all agree that if you want butterflies, plant zinnias. They're a staple somewhere else, but not here. They will steal your heart away!
Let's discuss zinnias and their needs.
A Primer on Zinnias
Like daisies, asters, and marigolds, zinnias belong to the Asteraceae family of flowering plants. More than 20 different species have hundreds of cultivars, all of which have earned popular names. In the 1700s, a German botanist named Johann Gottfried Zinn was the first to classify them. He found that they came from Mexico, South America, and the southern United States.
The growth patterns of many zinnia varieties vary. Many of them have many stems, while others just have one that stands straight up. Some of them have excessive facial hair. You'll find both single and double-flowered varieties. These are achieved by growing zinnias, which produce what seems like a single flower head but is really a cluster of miniature fertile flowers in a center ring surrounded by sterile blooms with petals. Zinnia elegans is different from Zinnia angustifolia because it grows tall and straight, while Zinnia angustifolia creeps and spreads.
The self-seeding nature of these plants gives the impression that their velvety, light green leaves, coated in trichomes, are perennial. They look beautiful in pollinator settings and are perfect for a spring or summer flower garden or food plot. However, things may rapidly escalate if not managed. Pruning and care should be given carefully while growing them.
When zinnias were initially introduced to the European aristocracy, they were stigmatized as a flower only for the poor. Why? Because they can be found almost everywhere and are simple to cultivate. Zinnias, on the other hand, have what I consider to be a very royal and dignified appearance in the garden. Along with my melon vines, they make beautiful cut flower arrangements.
Different Varieties of Zinnias
The differences between Zinnia elegans and Zinnia augustofolia were discussed previously. Let us add that there are three distinct varieties of zinnias. The kind of zinnias available in a given area will dictate these. There are plants that have a single bloom, a semi-double flower, or a double flower. Let's go through a few different cultivars categorized by bloom type before you place your seed order.
These zinnias produce a single row of petals around a prominent stamen.
There are many rows of petals on a semi-double flower, and the centers of all of the petals are still visible. Many of them come in taller than average sizes.
Zinnias with two sets of blooms
Double-flowered zinnias seem to be impenetrable mazes due to their many layers of petals. Dahlias are a common mistake for them.
You can't go wrong with the California Mix Zinnia Seeds, which are available from the Epic Gardening store if you're at a loss as to which to plant.
In Care of Zinnias
Because the requirements for growing Zinnia elegans and other species are so similar, we compiled all of that data into one location. Let's talk about the best ways to care for them every year in your summer garden.
Tips for Growing Zinnias
You should plan ahead for when and where you'll plant your zinnias. It is not advised to attempt starting zinnia seedlings inside to later transfer them somewhere else when they are grown. Using peat pots to plant them may assist, but you can still end up damaging the roots. Sowing zinnias after the final date of danger from frost in late April is ideal. Distribute them throughout the garden in areas that could use some extra color or a pollen attractant.Spread the seedlings out as they emerge, leaving 12 inches between dwarf varieties and 6 inches between other types.
Heat and the Sun
When grown in full light and warm temperatures, zinnias flourish. Although they do well in locations with little shade, they need at least six hours of sunshine every day. They do well in a temperature range of around 23 to 28 degrees Celsius (74 to 84 Fahrenheit). Annuals don't last long in the soil, but zinnias do. As the summer progresses and temperatures rise, the majority of people will stick around. Some, if they haven't already taken root, will perish in the heat. They are sensitive to cold weather and will perish if exposed. Grow them in the sun in the spring and enjoy their flowers all the way through summer and into October. Until the first frost in early winter, zinnias may often be seen in the gardens of some regions.
Wet and muggy conditions
Zingiberaceae (zinnias) may survive in dry conditions, but they still need frequent watering. After the seeds germinate and the plant begins to take root, provide at least an inch of water weekly. Sow zinnia seeds in well-drained soil and water them using a soaker hose or drip tape to prevent root rot. Because of this, zinnias won't get the fungal patches that may appear when they're watered from above.
Easy-going zinnias need well-drained soil as a minimum requirement. It's true that zinnias thrive in rich organic soils and struggle in poor soils, but in reality, you can pretty much grow them wherever. Soil moisture retention is important, but not to the point that plants can't grow in it. Zinnia elegans, like many other plants, becomes more disease-prone when subjected to excessive wetness. Zinnias thrive on soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 7.5.
Zinnias don't need much attention in the way of fertilizer if the soil is already rather fertile. But for soils that aren't as rich, fertilize regularly. Two or three applications throughout the spring and summer are recommended for slow-release granular fertilizer heavy in phosphorus. Alternatively, compost tea sprayed on the soil as a drench once every two weeks throughout the growing season is effective. Established Zinnia elegans that had very little fertilizer during the years of their growth have been a breeze for me to care for.
Cutting back on Zinnias
Zinnia bloom trimming is essential while growing zinnias. You may encourage more flowering later in the season by snipping off the first flower when it is completely open, at the bud junction. Some zinnias may be trimmed back repeatedly, and those that can benefit from this practice should have their flowers regularly removed. You may use the stems, which have already been cut at the node of the leaf, to make beautiful bouquets. When you do this, the zinnia plant will send out two new stems from the point where you made the incision. Trim them down to the ground when they die off in the autumn or winter. Deadheading prevents zinnias from taking over a space unless you want them to do so the next year. Zinnias are annuals, but they will return from their own seeds the following spring.
To improve airflow, trim the zinnia plants' leaves. Many plant diseases, including those that attack zinnias, flourish in overcrowded gardens. Pruning is the first line of defense against these plant pests.
You may allow zinnias to self-sow in some sections of your garden each year, or you can harvest the seeds from spent blooms and plant them in the early or late spring. If you have more than 100 days before the first frost, you may seed another patch and enjoy additional blooms later in the season. I save a packet of seeds until spring, when I scatter them among my annuals for an additional dose of pollen. You may also use zinnias in areas of your garden where other plants haven't been successful or if you just want a splash of color that will remain all summer. When seedlings reach a height of a few inches, they should be thinned out to a spacing of 12 inches. This prevents the plants from suffocating one another.
Planting zinnias in your yard is a terrific idea since they bloom for months, grow swiftly, and attract pollinators. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind while cultivating them.
There is a risk of transplant shock if you attempt to start zinnias inside and then move them to the outdoors (even in peat pots). Instead, you may just throw the seeds around your garden.
Most zinnia problems stem from trying to do too much, rather than just enough. Seeds should be sown thickly, yes. However, you should give them some room to expand, and then deadhead them after their blooms are done. This reduces the risk of having too many zinnias the next year. Donate any extra seeds to a good cause.
When planted beyond the last frost date, zinnias may not have enough time to grow and bloom before the weather becomes too hot for their seeds to germinate. The early arrival of heat waves in the south makes it easy to fall behind on planting. Cool to mild temperatures are ideal for germination, and the blossoms require at least 100 days of warm weather before the first frost to fully open.
Common pests might be expected while growing zinnias. Aphids, tiny insects like pears, feed on the sap of zinnia leaves by lurking on their undersides. Applying a vigorous stream of water should be enough to dislodge them from your plants. The next step is to spray the plant's green sections with neem oil. If you see them feeding on the petals, you should pick the bloom off the plant. But refrain from using neem spray on the flowers. Morning is the best time to apply neem, and you shouldn't use it if the temperature is already above 90 F (32 C) outside.
Spider mites, which feed on a plant's sap and appear as little yellow or red specks, may be plaguing your zinnias. Webs wrapped around the plant are a telltale sign of an infestation. Warm, dry climates are ideal for them. Be sure to water consistently to avoid these. Scrub the plants with insecticidal soap and a moist towel to get rid of the pests. You should reapply it every few days.
Whiteflies, which are very small moths, feed only on plant sap. They often infest indoor and protected outdoor plants, as well as those in greenhouses. The best way to deal with them is with a powerful jet of water. If you let them keep feeding, the honeydew they produce might be fatal to your plant. If the water doesn't kill them, use an insecticide spray, such as pyrethrin. The honeydew and the insects' eggs may be easily wiped off the leaves by wiping them down.
For zinnias, powdery mildew is the most common disease problem. Mildew can usually be controlled or prevented if you grow your plants in a sunny location, water them regularly but not too much, and prune off any affected leaves. When selective pruning has failed, neem oil may be used for management. Apply it according to the same guidelines as described in the prior section.
The fungal and watermold pathogens that produce alternaria leaf spot, bacterial leaf spot, and cercospora leaf spot all like warm, damp environments. Zinnias may be watered without soaking their leaves if you do it at their bases rather than their tops. These infections generate damp, black patches, which may spread to other regions of the plant and cause bacterial wilt if not treated. After applying a fungicide like sulfur fungicide or copper fungicide, you may carefully clip the afflicted leaves to improve airflow and kill the infections. Neem oil may be used as a preventative measure, but it shouldn't be applied to plants less than a week before or after being treated with a fungicide.
All members of the Asteraceae family are susceptible to the fungus that causes aster yellows. The leafhoppers themselves are infected and spread the illness as they flit from plant to plant. Keep them under control to stop the disease from spreading. To prevent the spread of aster yellows, you should get rid of diseased plants before they go too far along in the disease's progression by burning them or burying them deep in your compost pile. Any weeds in the vicinity should be pulled out and dealt with in the same way.
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