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...


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