Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Zinnias are an ideal cut flower for summer bouquets. These are easy to grow in cutting gardens. For 2010 there are some great new varieties that are tall enough for cut flowers.
Johnny’s is offering two new types of zinnias for cut flower gardens. The Benary’s Giant Series comes in 13 separate flower colors as well as a mix. This series is perfect for cut flowers as the stems are very tall—3˝ feet or more.
The Giant Series features strong, sturdy stems with blooms that are double. The Giants have thick, sturdy stems and high quality blooms that are perfect for cutting. Reaching six inches in diameter, these blooms resemble dahlias. The flowers are ready to harvest in about 2˝ months from the time the seeds are planted. The Giant series plants are less likely to experience powdery mildew than most zinnias. Of all the colors the Giant Lime is my favorite.
There is a new color in the Giant Zinnia series. Giant Wine blossoms are richly double. This variety is named for the deep burgundy petals. The flowers are five inches in diameter.
Johnny’s is also offering the Giant Dahlia Flowered zinnia series. This is available both as a mix and as nine separate flower colors. These plants are 3˝ feet tall or more. The mix contains plants with double, semi-double, and single flowers.
For 2010 Thompson and Morgan is adding a new zinnia. Candy Cane Mixed is great for cut flowers. The sturdy stems are over two feet in height. The mix includes flowers in a range of colors. These include pastels, such as white, cream, and pink as well as various red and an orange. The beautiful blossoms are doubles.
Harvest zinnia stems before the flowers are fully open. They’re used as a medium and large mass flower. They have a vase life of around a week.
All of the zinnias can be easily grown from seed. These can be direct sown. For the earliest cut flower stems, start them early indoors. Sow them about a month before the expected last frost. The seeds germinate very quickly at a temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in less than a week. Plant zinnias in full sun in the cutting garden. They do best in a rich well drained soil.