Zinnias are one of those varieties of flowers people don't immediately think of when planning their garden. And that's a shame. Perhaps they've been around so long that we've gotten used to seeing them. Whatever the reason, if zinnias haven't made your list of garden must-have staples, they should. |
Why should you grow these beauties? They're easy to plant, come in many different shapes and colors, and the more you cut them, the more they bloom. This makes them a pretty good deal for around $3, which is the average price of a packet of seeds.
How to Grow
One of the best things about zinnias is how easy they are to propagate from the seed. These aren't picky hothouse seedlings, so you won't have to baby them with grow lights or special heating pads. If you're really going for ease, simply plant the seeds directly into a prepared bed after the frost date in your area.
If you'd like to get a head start, plant the seeds indoors into potting trays filled with any standard potting soil approximately four to six weeks before the last frost date. Then, once all chance of frost is over, simply transplant the seedlings into your garden. That's another benefit of these hardy flowers, they're not fragile to transplant. You simply prepare a spot for them. So easy, even your kids can help. Just be sure and water thoroughly after transplanting to give them a good start.
For those who don't want to bother with seeds, you can buy pre-started bedding plants, although you won't have as large a choice of varieties and may have to settle for only a few different colors. Many times the bedding plants available at your local garden center are mixed color combinations, which make them almost like an instant mixed bouquet! But if you'd like more control over colors and bloom shapes, go with seeds. If you've never tried planting from seeds, these would be a great plant to start with...that's how easy they are.
Colors and Bloom Styles
Zinnias come in every color of the rainbow except blue, and the bloom shapes vary from single, double, and semi-double. While you're probably more familiar with the typical reds and oranges, try planting a few of the lesser-known colors to see just how great these flowers are in cut arrangements. There are lime-green dahlia-shaped varieties that are spectacular. You could also try many of the newer bi-colored varieties, such as hot pink splashed with vermillion centers, candy-cane stripes in sherbet colors, or white daisy-shaped petals with fuchsia centers.
Whether you grow the huge dahlia-shaped blooms, or smaller button shaped zinnias with row after row of petals, these flowers are made for cutting. In fact, the more you cut them, the more blooms they produce. Due to their long growing season, from summer until fall, you can have indoor bouquets for months. Mix an armful of zinnias with a few long-stemmed roses and some greenery, and you've got a florist-quality arrangement suitable for the dinner table. Cut single blooms and place in brightly colored vases next to sinks in the bathroom and kitchen for a cheerful spot of color guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Float a few larger blooms in a bowl of water on your coffee table for a Zen-like beauty. There's no end to the number of ideas you'll come up with when you grow these prolific bloomers.
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