Welcome to 31 Days of FLOWERS! (part of the Write 31 Days Series).
Today I'd like to talk about Zinnias…perhaps the cheeriest flower in the garden.
I have planted zinnias for many years here in coastal Massachusetts. I find that direct sowing after the danger of hard frost has passed works best. (I have tried transplants, but they are never as strong). For me, planting is typically Memorial Day weekend.
I have gone from sowing a tiny patch, to planting more than 700 zinnia seeds this year! I planted a large 4 x 12 bed of Benary Giant Zinnias. I packed it tight, thinning the seedlings, but not as much as the packages state. Zinnias are a plant that can take tighter spacing. They still produce beautifully. I never pinch, and end up with lots of flowers. Keep cutting and they will keep producing until a hard frost. I also planted a large bed outside my sunporch this year. I planted it about 2 weeks after the others…always a good idea to have a staggered planting.
I have heard some people say that they don't like zinnias because the leaves get a mildew. We have extremely humid weather here on the coast, and I seldom get spotted leaves. If I do, it is typically late in the season or following a week of continuous rain. Even then, it never affects the flower, and I strip all leaves off as I pick anyhow.
Pick zinnias when flowers are fully open. Give the stems a little jiggle. A sturdy stem is ready for picking!
I decided this year to try planting all of one variety in my large bed: Benary's Giant.
I ordered the following from Harris Seeds:
Giant Bright Pink
Giant Carmine Rose
Giant Salmon Rose
They were hearty, and thrived through a summer of the worst drought I've seen, even with limited watering. They are still producing like crazy! I have only had three white flowers, and haven't had any wine (at least the flower kind ;), so those two colors were a bit of a disappointment. The roses and corals and pinks and purples have been outstanding and huge and vibrant. I will definitely plant a whole bed….maybe two or three, of Benary again next year.
If you are looking for a bright, cheerful flower that produces a large quantity of long lasting blossoms…choose zinnias. You will be glad you did!