Zinnias Bring Happiness to the Garden
By Maria Price
Of all the flowers I’ve grown, my childhood favorite—zinnias—say I want to make you happy. We can all use a dose of “happy” this year.
Zinnias come in a kaleidoscope of colors, heights, shapes and habits. Mostly it’s their colors that are so beautiful. Not only that, they are incredibly easy to grow. I painstakingly germinate many flowers from seed and coddle them along but zinnias can be directly sown in the ground and will germinate and grow without any pampering.
They’re great to plant with children as they grow and flower quickly, giving budding young gardeners swift gratification. I planted zinnia seeds with my 5-year-old granddaughter this year and she loves to see them since she is named Zinnia. We picked the colors she likes for her own bouquet.
If you want tall plants with large blooms, grow the Benary’s Giant series. They grow 4 feet tall and boast 4- to 5-inch blooms. They are available in rich clear colors like bright pink, Carmen rose, deep red, yellow, lilac, orange, purple, salmon rose, scarlet and white. Cut flower growers prefer this variety but any mix of colors would be suitable for a home garden.
Zinnias do best in full sun and sandy composted soil. The best thing about zinnias is that the more you cut them, the more they bloom. So, keep them dead-headed to keep blooming. They also attract pollinators by the dozens and butterflies love them for their rich nectar.
A remarkable new variety of zinnia is Zinderella. They are big, rounded, semi-double “seat cushion” blooms reaching 2 to 3 inches wide on long strong stems. It is an award-winning series with neon colors and a fascinating flower form. They are often as thick as they are wide and remind me of fancy Gerbera daisies. They grow 24 inches tall. The Lilliput series grows 16 inches tall with small 1½-inch flowers shaped like little beehives and come in all colors. The cactus flowered zinnias have large quilled petals. The profusion series grow 12 inches tall with cheerful 2-inch blooms that attract butterflies, bees and beneficial bugs and are very disease-resistant. One of my favorites is the Thumbelina mix that are dwarf 12-inch plants with 1½ inch flat button double flowers that are sure to bring fairies to your garden.