Zany for Zinnias

Classic old fashion garden favorite. Large beautiful long lasting flowers that attract all the butterflies and hummingbirds. Long lasting for cut flowers and flower arrangements

The Zinnia Family Tree February 25, 2012

The Zinnia Family Tree

There are more than a dozen species of zinnias, members of the Asteraceae (also known as Compositae) family, but very few of them are grown in home gardens. Zinnia elegans (syn. Z. violacea), the common zinnia, is very familiar to gardeners. Tall, mid-sized, and dwarf varieties of this species have been grown for decades, and flowers are available in a wide range of colors. Z. angustifolia(also known as Z. linearis) is less common in gardens, but is gaining in popularity. The plants have narrower foliage and smaller single flowers. The species has golden-orange flowers, but the variety, ‘Crystal White’, AAS (All America Selections) winner in 1997, offers pure white daisy-like blooms with yellow centers. It is more compact than the straight species, and may overwinter in Zones 9-11. Probably the least known of the garden zinnias is Z.haageana, or the Mexican zinnia. It is disease-resistant, grows to 15 inches, and has small, bicolored flowers.



How to Grow Zinnia Flowers October 31, 2008

How to Grow Zinnia Flowers          

Zinnias are a really neat flower They come in a wide variety of colors with large, profuse blooms. They are truly an easy to grow annual flower. Zinnia offers many colors and mixed blooms to choose from. Flowers will bloom from mid-summer all the way until frost. They are good for indoor arrangements.



Variety abounds!

Zinnia comes in many varieties with at least one variety to fit everyone and for every need. There is a profusion of colors, multi-colors, and hues. Colors include, white, yellow, orange, red, rose, pink and multi-colored blooms. There are miniature and giant varieties ranging in size from about a foot for miniatures to giant varieties that can grow over three feet tall! You can select the color and size that is perfect for your flower garden. If you are planning a container garden, make sure to include some miniature zinnias.


Zinnias are grown from seed. Zinnia seeds can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later. We recommend planting Zinnias in pots and containers indoors, then transplanting them outdoors. This allows you to make the proper spacing and not have to thin seedlings.

Sow Zinnia seeds early in the season and cover lightly with soil. Water thoroughly once. They germinate easily and will grow quickly, producing their first of a continual display of blooms by mid-summer.           

Transplant Zinnias into your garden after the last frost date for your area. Spacing depends upon size with miniature varieties spaced four to six inches apart, and Giant varieties one to two feet apart.

How to Grow Zinnia Plants:

Zinnias like rich, well drained soil, but are very tolerant of average to slightly poor soils. Improving your soil quality will produce much healthier plants and flowers, so add plenty of compost. Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month.

Once your Zinnia plants are established, they should grow well. Soil should be moist, but not wet. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week.

Add mulch around the plants for appearance and to keep weeds down.  

Around mid-summer, your plants will begin to produce flowers and will continue to do so up to the first frost. You should remove dead flower blooms to encourage new growth and new blooms. Improve appearance of Giant Zinnias by trimming back stems that have grown long or gangly, but do not over trim them.

Zinnias are annuals and are susceptible to frost. They may survive the first light frost with only a little damage. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.


Cuttings for Indoors:

Giant Zinnias have long stalks for flower vases and other arrangements. Cut the stem low, check for insects hiding in the flower, on the stem and under the leaves. Bring them indoors and place in water immediately.

For miniatures, use a small container or vase and cut stem a couple inches long. Bunch up a variety of colors for an eye-appealing arrangement. Add a small sprig or two of Baby’s Breath.



Insect and Disease:

Zinnias are somewhat resistant to insects and disease. If insect or disease problems occur, treat early with organic  or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.



Mexican Zinnias

Filed under: annuals,flowers,zinnias — patoconnor @ 12:00 am
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                Mexican Zinnias       

Zinnia haageana
Common Names:
Mexican zinnia, narrow-leaved zinnia, orange zinnia
Family: Asteraceae/Compositae

Mexican zinnia is an upright, bushy annual that is similar to common zinnia (
Z. elegans). However, the leaves are smaller, only 2-3 in (5.1-7.6 cm) long. They are also narrower (almost linear) unlike the lance-shaped, 3-5 in (7.6-12.7 cm) long leaves of common zinnia. Mexican zinnia gets about 2 ft (0.6 m) tall with a spread of about 1 ft (0.3 m). The wild form has bright orange ray flowers on heads about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) across. Like the better known zinnia, Mexican zinnia has many cultivars to brighten up summer flower beds. ‘Old Mexico’ is a tried and true old-timer with a bushy habit and flowerheads in yellow, red and mahogany. ‘Chippendale’ has ray flowers that are bright red with yellow tips. ‘Star White’ has white rays and golden yellow discs. ‘Persian Carpet’ is dwarf, to 14 in (35.6 cm) tall, with double flowerheads in a wide combination of bi-colors including gold, maroon, purple, brown, cream and pink. ‘Orange Star’ is only 10 in (25.4 cm) tall and bushy with orange flowerheads; it makes a good annual groundcover.

Mexican zinnia is native to Mexico.

Light: Full sun.
Moisture: Mexican zinnia is quite tolerant of heat and drought. The ‘Persian Carpet’ series cultivars are perhaps the most drought and heat tolerant.
Hardiness: Mexican zinnia is a warm season annual that is very tolerant of long, hot summers. It cannot tolerate frost.
Propagation: Sow seeds where the plants are to be grown in spring after the last frost, or set out 6-8 week-old seedlings. Zinnias are sensitive to root disturbance, so be especially careful when transplanting.

Zinnias are traditional in annual flower beds and borders. Use the dwarf varieties in containers and window planters. Some of the short, bushy cultivars make nice summer groundcovers. Grow the taller varieties in borders and beds and for cut flowers. Pinch young stems back to encourage branching unless growing for long-stemmed cut flowers. Deadhead spent flowers frequently to prolong flowering. Zinnias will produce larger (but fewer) flowers if you remove side shoots.     

Zinnias are among the few bedding plants that will continue to perform throughout long, hot southern summers, all the way up to the first frost. Mexican zinnia is even more tolerant of heat, dry weather and winds than is the common zinnia.

The name, Zinnia angustifolia has been misapplied to Z. haageana in the horticultural trade, but the former is in fact a distinct species from Central America that is smaller, to 15 in (38.1 cm) high, and has smaller narrower leaves to 2 in (5.1 cm) long. Narrow-leaved zinnia, as it is called, has ray flowers that are orange with a yellow stripe down the middle.



New Landscape Plant Feature: Profusion Zinnias October 30, 2008

Filed under: annuals,flowers,zinnias — patoconnor @ 11:57 pm

New Landscape Plant Feature: Profusion Zinnias


Profusion series of zinnias are rapidly gaining popularity among home gardeners and landscape professionals. These zinnias can be considered a landscape zinnia. They are hybrids between old cut flower-type zinnias and the Mexican or narrowleaf zinnias. Flower and foliage are smaller than the old cut flower-type zinnias but larger than the narrowleaf zinnias. They are also a great improvement over the Dreamland and Peter Pan zinnias, which have been the primary zinnias used the last 10 years for landscape plantings.

Profusion zinnias are available in five colors. Profusion White, Orange and Cherry have been around a few years; Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot were introduced in 2004. White, orange and cherry are all All-America Selection winners. Profusion White and Profusion Orange were recognized as outstanding plants for Louisiana under the old Louisiana Select program for their superior landscape performance. The orange flowers of Profusion Orange start out very bright and gradually fade with age. The bright white flowers of Profusion White fade to creamy white. The reddish flowers of Profusion Cherry fade to an off color red and pink. Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot have the most colorful flowers in the series. Fire has reddish-orange flowers and Apricot has light orange to peach flowers. Flower color holds up well on these two varieties. In our LSU AgCenter bedding plant trials, Profusion Orange, Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot have been the better performers.

Ideal planting dates in the spring for zinnias would be early April in south Louisiana and mid April in central and north Louisiana. You can continue to plant zinnias later in the year; they make a nice late summer planting for plentiful fall flowers. A full sun location is best. Old flowers can be pinched off to encourage more continual bloom, but Profusion zinnias stay in flower much better and longer than other zinnias.

Powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases (caused by fungus and bacteria) are sometimes a problem on zinnias but are less prone to damage the Profusion type. Zinnias will perform best in drier years. Also, it is important to note that a well- drained bed is preferred, and irrigation does not need to be often. Zinnias are remarkably drought tolerant.


 New Profusion zinnias arrive this spring

Fri, Jan. 26, 2007

The Profusion zinnias will continue to be hot in 2007. I had the oddest feeling when I visited Sakata Seed in California last April. We were in the middle of our 2006 Mississippi Medallion program promoting the truly outstanding


Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot zinnias.    

There I was on the West Coast, looking at the newest or improved version of none other than our Mississippi Medallion, Profusion Apricot, which is nowcalled Profusion Deep Apricot. Even though we were promoting it back home, I was delighted to see it had already been improved.

Gardeners will like it even better than the original Profusion Apricot. It is a rich apricot color that will sizzle in the hot summer garden.

There are other new Profusion zinnias that will hit the market this spring. One is Profusion Coral Pink. It looks just as its name suggests, possibly with more emphasis on the pink than the coral. There is also a new Profusion Double Cherry. It has the cherry red of the original but is double petaled.

Profusion Knee High zinnias may generate the real excitement. Available in red and white, these zinnias looked so good that Ball Seed Co. bought the seeds and rights from Sakata.

Here is what is different about the Profusion Knee High. As the name suggests, these are indeed several inches taller than the typical Profusion zinnias that reach 15 inches. In other words, they are knee high or closer to 20 inches.

The flowers are the same size as Profusions, but with this taller habit, they develop a more open look – similar to the narrow-leaf zinnias (Zinnia angustifolia) such as Star Orange or Classic White, and sometimes called Mexican zinnia.       

This slightly open, airy look works well in the Southern garden and will allow them to partner wonderfully with salvias, gomphrenas and verbenas. They also excel with ornamental grasses such as Hameln dwarf fountain or Purple Fountain.

The Profusion zinnias are really disease resistant, making them fun to grow. Select a site in full sun with fertile, well-drained soil because they cannot survive wet feet. Prepare the planting area by tilling in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter along with a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer.

Incorporate two pounds of the fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area. Plant nursery-grown transplants at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing 10 to 12 inches apart. Apply a layer of mulch after planting. Give them a little snip any time you don’t like the shape of any of the Profusion zinnias.

Feed with a light application of fertilizer one month after transplanting and every four tosix weeks throughout the growing season. Obviously, we are not ready for zinnia planting, but it is fun to plan and think about what we can do in the landscape when spring arrives.     

Norman Winter is a horticulturist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service. Reach him at or (601) 857-2284.

Sun Herald

Children Enjoy Growing Zinnias

Filed under: annuals,flowers,zinnias — patoconnor @ 11:53 pm
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Children Enjoy Growing Zinnias

Contact: Diane Relf, Extension Specialist, Environmental Horticulture

August 1996              

Children enjoy many of the same pleasures as adults, whether it be baking, woodworking, or gardening. A main thing to remember, however, is that a child needs to start with a project that will provide both enjoyment and success to maintain a continued interest in the project. As such, zinnias make perfect learning tools — the seed of zinnias are large, they germinate quickly (with most of the seed germinating), the plants don’t require a lot of care outdoors, and they will bloom prolifically from mid-summer until the frost kills them in the fall. Seed can be started indoor four to six weeks before the last expected frost, and seedlings transplanted into the garden. An easier method is to sow the seed directly into the garden where they are going to grow.

Encourage children to take care of their own small garden or their own portion of a larger garden. For younger children, you may wish to select a mix of zinnia seed so they can enjoy many bright colors. Your young gardener can sow a small mass planting, so that when the flowers bloom, the garden will be a splash of color. Older children may enjoy planning a garden design with two or more colors of zinnia. If so, explain that simple designs are more pleasing in small areas than very complex designs.

Help children prepare the soil in the bed. Add organic matter or slow release fertilizer if needed, then moisten and level the soil. Have the children draw lines in the soil to mark the planting rows or design. Plant two or three zinnia seeds 1\4 to 1\2 inch deep in holes spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, depending on the type of zinnia. If the soil is warm and moist, the seeds will germinate in three to four days. When the seeds are sown in rows, it is easier to identify the zinnia seedlings from weed seedlings.

When zinnia seedlings have two pairs of true leaves, they need to be thinned by pinching off all but the most vigorous seedling at ground level. Leave about 4 to 6 inches between low growers, 8 to 10 inches between intermediates, and 10 to 15 inches between large giants.

Zinnia maintenance is very basic, just water, weed, and watch them bloom. Removing the weeds ensures that the zinnias are getting all the moisture and nutrients the soil has to offer, and it helps to keep the garden design attractive. Zinnias do not require a lot of water, but they should be irrigated during dry weather to keep them blooming at their best. Trickle irrigation is best as sprinklers tend to increase the chances of disease. Deep, infrequent watering (soil is wet to a depth of 5 to 6 inches) gets water to the plant roots where it is most needed better than frequent, shallow waterings.

Zinnias are perfect for picking — this helps to keep them blooming and it’s great to give Mom or a friend several huge flowers right from “my own garden” — so keep scissors or garden shears handy! Growing plants, such as zinnias, can help children learn how to garden and enjoy beautifying their outdoor environment. When they have a hand in starting “life” by germinating seeds and nurturing “life” as they take care of the plants, children develop skills that they will use all their lives. The success of a garden of zinnias in full bloom will be a source of pride and will encourage your young gardeners to tackle more projects in the future.

(Excerpted from the “Year of the Zinnia” factsheet provided by the National Garden Bureau, Downers Grove, IL 60515 .)                          


Think Zinnia for Sunny Summer Color

 Think Zinnia for Sunny Summer Color        

By Patricia Diaz, from the February 2005 Newsletter

      There are two kinds of flowers that, for me, definitely say sunny summer – calendula (or pot marigold – not to be confused with African or French marigolds) and zinnias. Both are fuss-free and give so much beauty to your garden.

Calendulas are a hardy annual and are native to southern Europe. They are a wonderful re-seeder and come in gorgeous shades of oranges and yellows. You can plant them directly in the garden or in mixed beds and containers. Since they have nice long stems, they also make great cut flowers. They like the cooler summer temperatures and do their best blooming in late spring and early summer. The variety Pacific Beauty is more resistant to summer heat than other varieties.

One of the nicest benefits of calendula, other than their beautiful color, is their soothing and healing purpose. Calendula was used during the Civil War in dressed wounds to speed healing. Today, you can purchase many calendula products, including soaps, skin creams, and salve used for minor cuts and burns. AND you can eat the flowers and leaves! In medieval times they were commonly used in soups and salads. You can also dry the flowers and use them as a “poor person’s” substitute for saffron. In potpourri, the dried leaves add great color while imparting no additional scent to your mixture.

You can plant calendula in full sun or partial shade and the plants tolerate most garden soils as long as you have good drainage. You can start the seeds about 6-8 weeks before the last frost or purchase seedlings at your local nursery. Seedlings need to be planted about 12 inches apart.

Calendula grows to about 1-2’ tall with flowers that are 1-4” in diameter. The most commonflower colors are oranges and yellows, but you can also find pale cream, gold, and apricot.

My other great summer favorite flowers are zinnias. There are SO many varieties and colors that it’s pretty hard to decide which kinds to plant! Another easy to grow plant, the seeds germinate quickly, the plants thrive on heat, they don’t need staking usually, and they don’t require a lot of water or fertilizer. No fuss, just enjoyment!

To grow zinnias from seed, sow directly into the ground in a full-sun area. While average soil is acceptable, adding compost and all-purpose fertilizer yields better plants. Sow the seeds 2-3” apart in rows that are 12” apart or intermix with your other garden plantings. Barely cover the seeds with soil, as they need light to germinate. Keep the soil moist until you see the seedlings (about 5-10 days). Thin to about 10-12” apart. Snails and slugs like the seedlings so protect them while they’re small. Water frequently at ground level until they reach several inches tall, then you can water less often but more deeply. If you prefer to buy nursery starts, dig a planting hole larger than the plant’s root ball, setting the plant in the hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding soil. Firm soil and water well.

Here are some suggestions for different kinds of zinnias:

ZINNIAS FOR CUTTING – Z. haageana is one of two types of zinnias perfect for cutting. ‘Old Mexico’ is a double flowered, mahogany colored flower; ‘Persian Carpet’ has orange and deep red flowers; Z. peruviana, also a zinnia for cutting, has tiny flowers in brick red or soft gold and the flowers make great dried blooms, even drying right on the plant! Z. elegans is also a cut flower favorite with long stems and large flowers. They can be prone to powdery mildew late in the season, however. Benary’s Giants (mildew resistant) come in a wide range of colors, as do the Yoga series; Splendor are scarlet, pink, orange or yellow; ‘Envy’ are a wonderful lime green’ ‘Candy Cane’ and ‘Candy Stripe’ both have striped flowers.

SPREADING ZINNIAS – Z. angustifolia (the Star series) have shorter stems and therefore aren’t as good for cutting. They are usually 12-18” in height and are wonderful for beds and borders. They flower quickly and are nearly maintenance free. The most common varieties are Star with white, gold or orange flowers, and Profusion with orange or cherry pink flowers.





Zinnia Problems

Zinnia Problems            

Unfortunately, in our quest for the perfect zinnia, we may face certain problems along the way.  Here is some pratical information on these basic problems.
Skinny, Spindly Seedlings Need More Light or Need Pinching
Zinnias need many hours of bright, direct sun to flourish. If they are at all shaded they are forced to stretch to reach the light, causing them to develop thin stems. If you are growing seedlings indoors under lights, adjust the fluorescent lights to remain only 3 or 4 inches above the seedlings as they grow taller. To encourage thick, sturdy stems and compact plant shape, pinch the growing tips off of zinnia seedlings at least twice before the buds begin to form. This causes them to branch and grow denser. Dwarf varieties have naturally denser shapes. See
Starting Plants From Seed and see Seed Starting Supplies and Equipment.

Foliage Curls, Puckers, Turns Yellow Due To Aphids
Aphids are about the size of a pinhead and have soft, pear-shaped bodies. They may be green, brown or pink. They tend to cluster on tender, new growth on zinnia stems and on the undersides of young leaves. They suck juices from plant cells, causing foliage to curl, pucker and turn yellow. Often the leaves and blossoms become stunted. Sometimes ants are visible, crawling along plant stems and foliage, attracted by the presence of the sticky honeydew secreted by aphids as they feed. If aphids are on plant tips, simply pinch them off and discard them in the trash. If they have infested a lot of the foliage, spray them with commercial insecticidal soap according to label instructions. Be sure the soap spray contacts the aphids directly.
Click here for more information on
Dealing with Aphids.

Leaves Spotted, Discolored May Mean Mites
Mites are about 1/50 inch long, barely visible to the unaided eye. Related to spiders, they have four pairs of legs, piercing-sucking mouthparts and very compact bodies. They may be yellow, green, red or brown. They suck juices from the leaf tissues, draining their chlorophyll and injecting them with toxins. Usually their damage is most visible on the upper leaf surfaces of the lowest leaves on the zinnia stem. They are stippled with small yellow dots or red spots. Leaves and adjacent stems are often distorted or swathed in fine webbing. Spray affected leaves in the late afternoon with insecticidal soap according to label instructions. Pull out and throw away any zinnias that are fully infested so that the mites do not spread to other plants. Take care not to transfer them to other plants on your hands or on tools. Click here for more information on Dealing with Mites.

Holes Are Chewed In Leaves And Flowers By Japanese Beetles
Adult Japanese beetles are 1/2 inch long. They have distinctive shiny metallic green and copper-brown wing covers. As larvae (grubs) they are inch long, plump, grayish-white worms with brown heads which lie curled just below the surface of the soil over the winter. They emerge in mid summer as voraciously hungry beetles and cluster on plant foliage. In no time they can skeletonize a leaf so that only its veins remain.

Begin to handpick any beetles as soon as you spot them. Drop them into a jar of soapy water. If they are overwhelming your zinnia planting, spray the beetles, leaves and stems with a pyrethrin/pyrethrum insecticide product as directed on its label. For long term control of chronic Japanese beetle problems, spray your lawn (where they lay their eggs) with a predatory nematode product as directed. These microscopic roundworms are packaged as a powder to be mixed with water. They ride the moisture into the soil and seek out grubs to lay their eggs in, killing them before they mature into beetles.
Click here for more information on Dealing with Japanese Beetles

Leaves And Roots Are Chewed By Various Beetles
Asiatic garden beetle larvae sometimes feed on zinnia leaves and flowers. Adults are velvety chestnut-brown, nearly 1/2 inch long, resembling Japanese beetles. They lay their eggs in the soil at the base of the plants, where the newly hatched grubs eat their roots. Black blister beetles also may attack zinnias. They are cinnamon brown and 1/2 inch long and their larvae also attack plant roots. Control these beetles the same way you deal with Japanese beetles. Be sure to wear gloves if handpicking blister beetles because they can cause blisters on bare skin. There are, as yet, no traps for these beetles. They are less likely to congregate in the numbers that Japanese beetles do.

Pale Spots On Foliage Signal Leafhoppers
Redbanded leafhopper and six-spotted leafhopper may attack zinnias. Leafhoppers are often strikingly colored green, brown or yellow, blunt-profiled bugs. About 1/4 to 1/3 inches long, they are wedge-shaped, holding their wings in a rooflike position above their bodies. They’re very active and move sideways or hop suddenly when disturbed. Nymphs and adults suck juices from leaves, buds, and stems. Some species may spread virus diseases such as aster yellows. Affected leaves are finely mottled with white or yellow spots. They eventually dry up, shrivel and drop off. Plants are weakened. Honeydew from the insects’ feeding may give foliage a glazed appearance and foster growth of sooty mold. Spray insects with insecticidal soap or a pyrethrin/pyrethrum insecticide product as directed on the product label.

White Powder Coating Leaves Is Powdery Mildew
Later in the summer zinnia foliage and flowers are likely to develop an ashy gray coating. This is a fungus disease which develops in hot humid weather. Typically it shows first on the lower leaves, especially in situations where plants grow close together so air circulation is reduced and humidity builds. Many yardeners simply ignore it, as it does not harm the plant. It just looks unattractive. Control the spread of the mildew by spraying unaffected leaves with garden sulfur fungicide according to label directions. Look for mildew resistant varieties such as ‘Rose Pinwheel’ and plant zinnia seedlings farther apart. Click here for more information on Dealing with Fungal Disease.

Brown Spots, Sores on Flowers Is Caused By Stem Blight
Blight is caused by a fungus that causes small reddish brown spots with gray centers to form on zinnia flowers. Sometimes dark brown cankers form on their stems. Cut off affected flowers and discard them in the trash. Keep the area around the plant clear of weeds and dead plant debris. If blight proves to be a chronic problem in the area, spray healthy zinnias plant surfaces with a garden sulfur fungicide as directed on the label.

Spindly Shoots; Foliage Are Yellowed, Curled By Virus Diseases
Various diseases caused by viruses occasionally attack zinnias. They are usually spread by insects. The plants may show curled, distorted, mottled foliage, they may be stunted or deformed, wilting, turning yellow and then dying. Sometimes flowers are a sickly yellow green or fail to develop at all. There is no cure for plant viruses. However, by controlling insect pests like leafhoppers, transmission of these diseases is reduced. Dig up infected plants and put them in the trash. Do not compost them. Keep the garden area clear of weeds and debris that may harbor infection. To avoid spreading the disease disinfect garden tools by dipping them into a solution of 1 part household bleach to 3 parts hot water.