Sunday, February 27, 2011

Zinnias--my twist on an old favorite...

This is the time of the year when a lot of gardeners are starting seeds indoors.  This is a great, inexpensive way to get exactly the plant varieties you want to grow.  With the cost of a flat of annuals increasing each year, growing your own seems to be the most logical, economical path to take.  Personally, I stink at starting seeds...  

Zinnias are definitely one of my favorite plants/flowers not only because they're a great addition to any garden, but because they are extremely easy to direct sow outside!  I have two large beds in my butterfly garden that each year I plant with Zinnias because they are:  cheap, come in a wide variety of colors, easy to grow and they're a great nectar source for the bees and butterflies. Native to Mexico and North America, there are at least 100 varieties of this flower and I've tried several selections including..  Magellan, Profusion, Zahara, Lilliput.. I keep coming back to my favorite, and the butterflies top choice,  the giant series that grow to three feet tall with wonderful 2-3 inch wide semi-doubled dahlia-flowered blossoms that come in a wide spectrum of colors... Envy (pale green), Enchantress (bright pink), Lavender Gem, Purity (white), Scarlet Flame, Violet Queen. There is a new variety this year called Queen Red Lime that I can't wait to add to the mix!

Here's the need to know facts about my favorite selection of  Zinnia elegans:

  • Annual
  • Direct sow outdoors after danger of frost
  • Full sun exposure
  • Tolerant of most soil types-prefers well draining
  • Blooms summer to fall
  • Height 3-4 feet, Width 18-24 inches
  • Heat and deer resistant 

One downfall to this plant is that it's prone to mildew and by the end of the season my flowers start looking a little sad..  Watering with a soaker hose or other ground-based spray does help or at least try watering early in the morning to allow the foliage to throughly dry before nightfall.

Not only am I crazy about this plant, the National Garden Bureau has declared 2011 as The Year of the Zinnia! To learn about additional great plants, visit Appalachian Feet on the 1st of each month...


  1. Love zinnias. We're primarily veggie gardeners, but have one bed containing a wide assortment of flowers including zinnias. The zinnias were sown years ago and have reseeded themselves every year since. From time to time, zinnias sprout throughout the garden. We are often able to leave these volunteers so we end up with a few zinnias here, there and everywhere. It works for us and the butterflies love them.

  2. How come Zinnias are "deer-resistant"? Do the deer not like the taste, or what? I need something to repel Foxes; maybe I should try Zinnias!

  3. Zinnias are always in my gardens and always a favorite. You've mentioned s few varieties that I'll have to try. Love that it's the year of the Zinnia.

  4. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who 'stinks' at starting seeds inside. When I plant something, I pat it on the head and tell it "good luck." You just can't do that indoors.
    I love zinnias, they make even people like me look like I know what I'm doing.
    the wanna be country girl - Caroline

  5. I couldn't believe last year how none of my zinnia seeds grew for me! I know it's because I just don't get enough sun where I planted them, which was everywhere in my back yard! I literally had dozens of packets, all kinds of varieties. This year I'm going to try the front gardens. I've had them before and love them but just wish I had more areas with sun. Many of my sunny areas are filled with perennials and there isn't a lot of extra room...but, I am making room for some zinnia's this year, especially some of the varieties you've recommended;-)

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