Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
It isn’t too late to begin planning your cutting garden for the 2004 season. Do include a row of zinnias. These quick blooming annuals are easy to grow.
Zinnias are an old fashioned flower with winning ways. Their long vase life puts them well above the competition.
You’ll find many uses for zinnias. They’re a favorite for summer bouquets, and for any design in which you need a daisy-shaped bloom.
Novice floral designers will appreciate the fact that in general zinnia stems are very easy to work with. They are strong and sturdy.
For the cutting garden you may prefer to buy zinnias as bedding plants. On the other hand, some folks like to grow them from seed. Direct sow seeds in the garden where they are to grow. In colder parts of the US, people may wish to start them indoors early, and transplant after the date of the last expected late frost.
Zinnias are available in many colors, sizes, and styles. Some are singles, while others are either semi or doubles. So far as the height is concerned, you can choose from dwarf, medium, and regal ones with very long stems. For bouquets you’ll probably want taller ones with long, graceful stems. Their blooms are often large as well.
From the name Thumbelina, you can tell this variety is going to have a petite stem and bloom. For seeds of this and many other zinnia varieties, check in your local garden center or in your favorite mail-order catalog.
What I often do is buy a mix featuring different varieties in a given height. For example, Harris Seeds has a Cut and Come Again Zinnia Mix with medium length, 2-foot stems. These feature semi and double ruffled blooms that are over two inches wide.
For exotic blooms, the Peppermint Stick Zinnia Mix from Harris Seed is very reliable. All of the flowers in this mix have streaky red blotches. Nearly 2 ˝ feet in height, the flowers come in a range of colors from hot yellows and orange to pink and white.
Of the taller varieties, the dahlia-flowered ones are real favorites. I highly recommend the Benary’s Giant Series Zinnias from Harris Seed. They feature long, thick stems 2 ˝ feet in height with 3-4 inch wide blooms in a broad range of bright, clear, eye-catching colors. If you’ve had problems in the past with zinnia diseases, you would do well to choose this mix because the plants are known to have some disease tolerance.
One word of caution is in order when choosing what zinnias to grow. They are subject to fungal diseases. For that reason, I choose disease resistant varieties. This makes them easier to grow and care for.