I have a couple of gardens that do well in the spring when the sun isn’t as intense but come late July everything dries up. It doesn’t matter how much I water those gardens (which I do sparingly as I don’t want to use up precious well water), the sun is just too intense.
The plants look, quite literally, as if they’ve been fried. I’ve tried a number of different late-blooming flowers to fill these garden areas, to crowd out the dried-up spring flowers and give the space some color. Nothing worked until I was given a pack of zinnia seeds.
Surprisingly, a local garden center was handing out zinnia seed packages for free. Now, who can resist something that is free? Not having grown this flower before, I read the information on the back of the package. That’s when I discovered the reason for the free packages. Someone hadn’t proofread the information, and there was a major typo. I can’t remember what the typo was, but I am thankful for the seeds. I was able to experiment at no cost, and it really paid off.
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Some lovely green sprouts started to appear in mid-July. By then, I had forgotten my zinnia seeds and almost pulled up the plant thinking it was a weed. I’m glad I waited. I was rewarded in early August with a very prolific display of flowers of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Blooming colors that last well into autumn. It was a zinnia extravaganza.
Delighted, I did some research. Part of the sunflower and daisy family, these flowers prosper in hot, dry, arid conditions, like dry grasslands. No wonder they liked my hot little garden space!
Most zinnias are like the ones I grew: tall, upright stems, sometimes as tall as 40 inches. The leaves are medium to dark green, shiny and ranging in shape from long and spiky to short, rounded, almost oval. The thing that I found interesting is that the leaves were attached directly to the main stalk without individual stems connecting stalk to leaf. In other words, the leaves were stalkless or sessile.
And then the butterflies and hummingbirds appeared, flocking to my late-summer growth of pollinator flowers. It was a gardening dream come true.
Planting and Growing Zinnias
Zinnias are easy to grow from seeds. In fact,they reseed themselves. Or you can collect the seeds in the late fall. When the flowers start to dry, remove the flower heads and shake the arrowhead-shaped seeds on a piece of paper towel. Transfer the seeds to an air-tight container to store until the following spring.
Or, alternatively, keep the entire flower head in a sealed container and plant the entire flower head in the spring. Not only will the seeds grow, but the flowerhead will decompose in the soil, nurturing the already fertile well-drained soil that zinnias love so much.
And they do love the full sun and hot summer temperatures. So, don’t expect immediate results from your plantings. Zinnias won’t poke through the earth until sometime in July, depending on the intensity of the heat and dryness.
With over a hundred different zinnia cultivars, as well as its hardy size, multi-colored varieties, and differing shapes, zinnia is a popular flowering plant, particularly in cut- flower arrangements. It also grows well in pots.
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If regularly deadheaded, zinnias will blossom profusely throughout the hottest days of summer and well into autumn. They are what might be termed a cut-and-come-again flower, the more you deadhead, the more flowers you’ll have.
In garden areas, since it tends to grow tall, zinnias make an excellent background flower with smaller flowers towards the front edges. As a companion flower, it offers many protective benefits. It’s deer resistant, and it can be a useful defense against whiteflies. Not to mention that it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Zinnias: An Intergalactic Flower
百日菊是一种易于照料、低维护的植物，几乎可以生长在任何地方。虽然百日菊喜欢排水良好的土壤，但它们是一种耐寒的植物，可以生长在坚硬的粘土等土壤中。They even grow in outer space.
Although I never plan on lifting off into the outer atmosphere to find out for myself, it’s interesting to know that this plant madeouter space botanical history in 2016当NASA宇航员Kjell N. Lindgrenstarted the rooting pillows of zinnia seeds and actually grew the plants. This allowed Earth scientists and astronauts to better understand autonomous gardening and how plants grow in microgravity. More proof that there are other forms of life beyond Earth’s hemisphere.
Common Problems With Zinnias
Hardy though they are, zinnias, like all growing things, have issues. Because they do well in hot, dry conditions, the plant doesn’t suffer from the same molds and mildews as other plants. The heat and the sun keep them dry. However, there is a condition known as white powdery mildew that can infect the lower leaves.
它不会杀死植物，但会夺走它的美丽。有抗百日草品种不受这种枯萎病的影响。然而，由于它影响下叶，简单地清除受感染的叶片，丢弃这些叶片。不要堆肥感染的叶子，因为这将传播进一步的问题，当堆肥混合到土壤后。This also increases the airflow around the plants preventing further infection.
Creating a Zinnia Arrangement
Since zinnia is tall, and it might look naked if the lower leaves have been removed, planting smaller plants in front of taller zinnia will hide their disproportional appearance. I have nasturtiums growing all around my zinnia.
Other than adding color to the landscape, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and creating a colorful variety to a cut flower arrangement, can zinnias be used for anything else? Are they medicinal or edible? Well, the flowers are apparently edible, though there’s not much flavor to them.
Adding zinnia flower petals to a salad or a cheeseball or making zinnia tea, is more about uniqueness and the impressive “wow” factor than it is about flavor or medicinal benefits.
But, if you are the type who likes to experiment, then why not! Harvest the flower heads in full bloom (which, to me, seems almost criminal because then you lose the beauty benefit of the zinnia patch), wash the flower heads and shake them dry.
Pull the petals out and remove the seed, which is attached at the end. Save the seed for planting next year! Add the petals to garnish foods or drinks of your choice. Remember though, it’s more about the novelty than the taste.
Zinnia: companion flower, drought-resistant, tough, pollinator and just plain pretty, what more needs to be said? Now that I’ve enjoyed one summer of its beauty, I’m already planning many more zinnia plantings. I do believe my gardens will burst into a colorful display in the hottest, driest part of next year’s summer.