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

Zinnia Diseases October 30, 2008

Zinnia Diseases

This page will give images and information on some of the diseases that may afflect your zinnias.

Alteraria leaf blight:

DESCRIPTION: Alternaria is a fungus which causes leaf spotting. Leaf spots progress from older leaves to newer. Spots are circular, target-shaped, and often surrounded by a slight yellow area.  Entire leaves may die and drop from the plant. They may also be found around stem ends on fruits and on stem.

LIFE CYCLE: Alternaria survives in plant debris and may be spread by insects or wind, and by rain/irrigation. Spores germinate in several hours during high humidity conditions. Infection occurs through natural plant openings if water remains on plant tissue for more than a couple of hours. After 2-3 days, first symptoms appear. Optimum temperatures for infection are 60-75° F, high humidity, and low fertility.

Cultural Control: This disease is spread by splashing water and by walking through plants when wet. Keep water off leaves. Water with soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Use 3 – 4 year rotations between susceptible crops. Maintain adequate nitrogen levels. Remove and destroy infected leaves.

Chemical Control: Sulfur and copper can be sprayed when temperatures are between 55 and 85° F and weather is wet, to protect leaves from infection. These “least toxic” options are less effective when overhead irrigation is applied. Missoula County Extension Service

Bacterial Leaf Spot

General Recommendations: Bacteria that cause leaf and flower spots, blights and fruit rots are ever-present in the environment. They survive in diseased plant debris from one year to the next and are transferred to new plants by wind, splashing rain, flowing water, contaminated soil and insects. Since bacteria typically require a wound through which to enter and infect a plant part, anything that can cause injury to plants, including abrasion by blowing sand, hail, pruning cuts and other tools, are commonly associated with bacterial infections. In some cases, natural openings in the leaves (stomata and hydrathodes), flowers (nectaries), and stems (lenticils) can serve as entry points for bacteria. Symptoms of bacterial infections vary with the host. A general symptom that indicates that bacterium is involved is the presence of a yellow halo surrounding a tan to dark brown lesion. This symptom is not always present when bacterial spots and blights occur, but it is a positive indication when present. Systemic infection can also occur when roots are damaged and bacteria enter, traveling up the stem in the water- or nutrient- conducting tissue. Leaf spots and blights result from a more localized infection. Rots occur when fleshy tissue is broken down by the action of rapid bacterial development. The progressive deterioration of rotting tissue typically leads to offensive odors which are also diagnostic of a bacterial infection.

Control of Bacterial Spots, Blights and Rots:

1. Clean up diseased debris. With a few exceptions, bacterial plant pathogens survive from year to year because they are protected in plant debris, including leaves, stem and roots that they infest. Since the ability of bacterial pathogens to move from place to place is limited, eliminating diseased debris is a primary factor in reducing the incidence of disease. This debris should be removed from the garden and buried or discarded. In addition, turning the soil over to bury any debris that cannot be picked up is also an important step in reducing the chance of disease spread. Buried debris will eventually decompose and decrease the viable population of bacteria. Composting infested plant material is not advised.

2. Remove infested plant parts. Bacterial infections, discovered during the growing season, should be removed from the plant. Use clean tools as the use of contaminated tools can exacerbate disease spread. Disinfect tools between cuts by dipping them in rubbing alcohol or a solution of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. When finished, clean the tools and wipe with an oiled rag to lubricate the parts and discourage rust. Avoid extensive pruning during wet or humid weather when the bacteria can be easily transmitted to and enter wounds. When seeking to reduce the spread of bacterial diseases, such as fireblight, Mid summer or fall pruning is preferred to spring pruning. An occasional affected branch on an otherwise clean plant can be pruned almost anytime. Prune 6 -12 inches behind the affected area.

3. Mulch. Since infested debris must be exposed to splashing rain in order for bacteria to be moved to a new infection site covering the soil around the plant with a layer of leaf mold or compost which buries the debris will help to prevent the spread of bacteria to new plants. Mulch also buffers the soil from extreme moisture loss, reducing the amount of stress during drought conditions.

4. Avoid overhead watering. Splashing rain or water is the primary vehicle that transfers bacterial pathogens around a plant or to a new host plant. Reducing the amount of overhead watering lessens the chances that the bacterial inoculum will be spread both from plant part to plant part and from the soil, where infested debris may reside, to the plant.

5. Rotate crops. Since bacteria populations tend to build up on diseased debris if the same plants are grown in the identical location year after year rotate unrelated vegetable and flowers in and out of a garden planting site each year.

6. Apply a bactericide. Except for copper and streptomycin sprays, which can not be used on all plants, there are few materials available that are effective in controlling bacterial diseases. And, even these bactericides provide limited insurance when a plant has open wounds and are ineffective after infection has occurred. Consequently, disease prevention is the most important initial step.

7. Use clean seed. Some bacterial pathogens can be introduced via seed where they reside either as contaminants on the outside of the seed coat or in wounds. Discard shriveled and discolored seed. Seed treatments have limited value.

8. Select resistant cultivars. Resistance to bacterial diseases is a common goal of vegetable and herbaceous plant breeders. Always select resistant cultivars when they are available, especially when growing plants in humid environments.

Kemper Center

Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is one of the most widespread and easily recognized plant diseases. Powdery mildews are most severe when the weather is warm and dry, and they affect virtually all kinds of plants: cereals and grasses, vegetables, flowers, weeds, shrubs, fruit trees, and broad-leaved shade and forest trees. Many plants have been developed to be resistant to or tolerant of powdery mildew. Succulent tissue is the most susceptible to infection.


Even though there are several types of powdery mildew fungi, they all produce similar symptoms on plants. Powdery mildews are characterized by spots or patches of white to grayish, talcum powder-like growth. Tiny, pinhead-sized, spherical fruiting structures–first white, then yellow-brown and finally black–may be present singly or in a group. These are the cleistothecia or overwintering bodies of the fungus. The disease is most commonly observed on the upper side of the leaves. It also affects the bottom sides of leaves, young stems, buds, flowers and young fruit. Infected leaves may become distorted, turn yellow with small patches of green, and fall prematurely. Infected buds may fail to open.


The severity of the disease depends on many factors: variety of the host plant, age and condition of the plant and weather conditions during the growing season. Powdery mildews are severe in warm, dry weather because, unlike most fungi, powdery mildew require a wet leaf surface for infection to occur. However, the relative humidity of the air does need to be high for spore germination. Therefore, the disease is common in crowded plantings where air circulation is poor and in damp, shaded areas. Incidence of infection increases as relative humidity rises to 90 percent, but it does not occur when leaf surfaces are wet (e.g., in a rain shower). Young, succulent growth is usually more susceptible than older plant tissues. Powdery mildew can seriously impact yield on flowering crops such as squash, pumpkins, cyclamen and reiger begonia, but on other plants such as lilac and oak, the mildew is unsightly but does not severely harm the plant.

Life Cycle:

Powdery mildews are host specific: they cannot survive without the proper host plant. For example, the species Uncinula necator, which causes powdery mildew on grape and linden, does not attack lilac. Similarly, Microsphaea alni affects elm, catalpa, lilac and oak but not turfgrass.

Powdery mildews produce mycelium (fungal threads) that grow only on the surface of the plant. They never invade the tissues themselves. The fungi feed by sending haustoria, or root-like structures, into the epidermal (top) cells of the plant. The fungi overwinter on plant debris as cleistothecia or mycelium. In the spring, the cleistothecia produce spores that are moved to susceptible host tissue by splashing raindrops, wind or insects.


Several practices will reduce or prevent powdery mildews. Many plants, such as roses, vegetables and Kentucky bluegrass, are developed to be resistant or tolerant to powdery mildew. Use resistant varieties whenever possible.

Once the disease becomes a problem:

•  Avoid late-summer applications of nitrogen fertilizer to limit the production of succulent tissue (which is more susceptible to infection).
• Avoid overhead watering to help reduce the relative humidity or water in the early morning to let the tissue dry as soon as possible.
• Remove and destroy all infected plant parts (leaves, etc.). For infected vegetables and other annuals, remove as much of the plant and its debris in the fall. This decreases the ability of the fungus to survive the winter. Do not compost infected plant debris. Temperatures often are not hot enough to kill the fungus.
• Selectively prune overcrowded plant material to help increase air circulation. This helps reduce relative humidity and infection.
• An alternative nontoxic control for mildew is baking soda combined with a lightweight horticultural oil. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have confirmed that a combination of 1 tablespoon baking soda plus 2.5 tablespoons oil in 1 gallon of water is effective against powdery mildew on roses. Use of this combination on other crops is still experimental.


Flower Zinnia Seed Catalogs

           Flower Seed Catalogs           


                               Below is a list of various seed catalogs that I have used over the years.  This is only a partial list and if you browse you’ll find many many more.  It is just that I am familiar with and have done business with these companies in the past.



The Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by an 18 year-old with a passion for plants and animals and a mother willing to lend him $1000 dollars of “seed money” to get started in business. Within 25 years he had developed the largest, most progressive seed company in America. By 1915 we were mailing a million catalogues a year to America’s gardeners.


Since 1879, Harris Seeds has been providing gardeners the very best in flower seeds, vegetable seeds, plants and supplies.  Today, we continue that dedication with our easy to use website.  Welcome!


Welcome to our new e-commerce web site. Stokes Seeds is a distributor of flower, vegetable, herb and perennial seeds as well as many garden accessories to customers throughout North America. What makes Stokes Seeds unique is our focus on quality garden seed and extensive growing information. Unlike most other seed companies we sell to both home gardeners and commercial growers. This gives us the advantage that no order is too small or too big.   


Providing Gardeners with Vegetable Seeds, Perennial Seeds, Flower Seeds, & Seed Starters for the American Garden Since 1868.


Offering catalog and online ordering. From Yankton, South Dakota

Thompson and Morgan Seed Catalog

The history of horticulture in the UK is bench-marked with names that have become famous. Among the companies that have founded the country’s seed industry a few names still survive, although their independence has been surrendered. Yet, as one of the oldest firms in the business, Thompson & Morgan retains both its identity and its reputation for innovation and quality. It all began in a small garden behind a baker’s shop in Tavern Street, Ipswich, tended by William Thompson, the baker’s son. He started work by helping his father but, stricken with ill-health, he began studying botany and passionately cultivated the garden at the back of the shop in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. He was soon to acquire the name of the ‘baker botanist’. From the back garden he moved to a nursery at the edge of Ipswich and then to an even larger one. Eventually there were three Thompson nurseries in the town and William began to publish a magazine called ‘The English Flower Garden’.


Visit our farm at Foss Hill Road in Albion, Maine, a farm community 10 miles east of Waterville, Maine.

Our trial fields are open to guests for self-guided tours from July through September.


Welcome to New England Seed Co./Carolina Seeds online store!


Where Can I Buy Zinnias?

Filed under: annuals,flowers,zinnias — patoconnor @ 11:43 pm
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        Where Can I Buy Zinnias?     

That will depend on whether or not you want to plant seeds or seedlings and the varieties you want to plant.

For such varieties as the California Giant, Giant Cactus, Lilliput, and Thumbelina very often the seed stores (and even dollar stores) will have racks of seed packets 8 or 10 for $1.00.  Now I have used these inexpensive packets for over thirty years with excellent results.

The fancier varieties such as Persian Carpet, Mexican and others will require you switch up to some of the better known brand names.

You can also order through various seed catalogs which I will cover in  another page.  I have ordered seeds and plants from these catalogs for over thirty years with excellent success and have received great customer service as well.


 You may choose to purchase seedlings, instead of planting seeds.  Usually these are available through any good flower/home and garden center.  You can buy some packets of six flowers or entire flats with dozens of seedlings in them.

Here are some tips on purchasing seedlings:

When starting a new garden, or adding to an existing one,
it is absolutely vital to choose only the healthiest plants from the best sources. While many gardeners prefer the control that can only be had by growing plants directly from seed, others prefer to buy seedlings or seed packs from a reputable nursery or garden center.

When buying seedlings to transplant,
it is essential that the gardener choose only the healthiest and most robust plants. If you are new to the gardening world, be sure to seek advice from more experienced gardeners with regards to the best places to buy healthy plants. Knowing where to buy, and what to look for once you get there, will give you a great start toward gardening success.

Be sure to look over the nursery or garden center
carefully and make an assessment of the health of the plants for sale. Do they have a robust look, with lush foliage and strong stems? Are they free of insects and disease? Be sure to look for any signs of disease, including spots on the leaves, holes, or scarring on the branches or stems.

Each flower variety you buy should come with instructions
for how to best transplant and take care of the plant. If such instructions are not provided, be sure to ask the staff at the nursery for recommendations. Following the recommendations and tailoring your care to the needs of each individual plant is the best way to succeed.




When Can I Plant Zinnias?

When Can I Plant Zinnias?

The central rule of thumb is to plant after the last day of expected frost in your area.  Remember, zinnias are annuals and are frost sensitive.  A few days too early can mean the difference between a beautiful flower garden….and a disaster. 

Planting Zone Map

Learn what planting zone you live in:

Knowing your planting zone can be very useful when your are planning your garden and flower bed areas.

When you order plants online or through a catalog it is very useful for you to know what will have the best success in your zone. 

Most plants are marked with a zone number. Use this map to know what plants will do best in your zone.


Using the Zone Map is really very simple. Find your geographic location on the map. Observe the corresponding color to that location. Look at the map key. That number designates the zone in which you live. 

You should select products that can survive in your zone. Simply read the item description and you will find a either a zone number or a range of zones. The lower of the the two zone numbers tells you the lowest recommended zone in which that plant can survive. Sometimes, an item will thrive outside that zone area. Remember this is only a guide.

For more information visit:

Indicator Plant ExamplesListed by Zone

Plant Hardiness Zones, Details

From: Plant Power


NOTE: The dates below are for the Northern Hemisphere
(Adjust appropriately for Southern Hemisphere)
Zone 1
Average dates Last Frost = 1 Jun / 30 Jun
Average dates First Frost = 1 Jul / 31 Jul Note: Vulnerable to frost 365 days per year

Zone 2
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 31 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Aug / 31 Aug

Zone 3
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 31 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Sep / 30 Sep

Zone 4
Average dates Last Frost = 1 May / 30 May
Average dates First Frost = 1 Sep / 30 Sep

Zone 5
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Zone 6
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Zone 7
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Mar / 30 Apr
Average dates First Frost = 30 Sep / 30 Oct

Zone 8
Average dates Last Frost = 28 Feb / 30 Mar
Average dates First Frost = 30 Oct / 30 Nov

<FONTSIZE=4>Zone 9
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Jan / 28 Feb
Average dates First Frost = 30 Nov / 30 Dec


Zone 10
Average dates Last Frost = 30 Jan or before
Average dates First Frost = 30 Nov / 30 Dec

Zone 11
Free of Frost throughout the year.

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Zinnia Picture Gallery

Zinnia Pictures


Getting started growing Zinnias

Getting started growing Zinnias


From the days, years ago, when a little old lady tending a small roadside stand neat a tidy farmhouse invited me back to see her garden and gave me dozens of her favorite Youth-and-Old-Age (Zinnia elegans), I’ve never been without them and as many of the amazing new kinds as my garden will hold.

A large shovelful of plants the little farmwoman gave me to set out in my garden yet not one died. Every one grew to fill my garden with cheer the summer long—and my house, too, for the phrase cut-and-come-again and zinnias are synonymous.

Whether seeds are started indoors, for early bloom, or sown outdoors after danger of frost is past, they germinate, develop and become attractive plants almost by themselves. Many of them seem to need nothing more than full sun and good soil.

When a storm or an accident destroys something in the border or in other critical places, I do not despair as I always grow enough zinnias for such emergencies. Using a shovel, I lift plants and set them into bare spots, prepared and soaked with water beforehand. If zinnias are dug up with a ball of soil, large enough, they slow up hardly at all. Often my plants do not even wilt when transplanted this way.

I crowd some varieties together for certain effects, and get smaller blossoms,but always give tall varieties such as Luther Burbank, Giants of California, Giant Dahlia Flowered plenty of room. I pick off the first buds in order to induce plants to make finer flowers and find it profitable to disbud if I want large flowers or am thinking of entering flowers in shows or fairs. My method is to leave only one bud to a stem and, if the plant is bushy, to remove some of the side branches and all insignificant low ones. The fewer the buds, the more food selected ones get and the larger flowers they become.

One of the more interesting newer zinnias is Persian Carpet. Its smallish flowers, composed of pointed petals tipped or bordered with a contrasting color, come in rich yellows, browns, maroons and copper and bronze. Plants about a foot high make a showy display in masses or as edges.

Navajo, another fine variety for the garden and arrangements, grows about a foot high, too and produces shapely little double or semi-double flowers in vivid shades or lilac, crimson, orange and in yellow, pink or other pastel tints. Flower petals are long, narrow and enhanced by white or yellow tips.

If you’re not familiar with Zinnia linearis, you are missing something useful. Nicely branching dwarf plants produce quantities of single, deep orange-yellow blossoms decorated by light yellow stripe in the center of each petal. When decayed cow manure is mixed with soil around plants they become mounds of ruddy gold.

The Lilliput Zinnia

Lilliputs are desirable for many reasons. Their rotund little blooms look good with almost all other in arrangements and in the garden. Plants are 12 to 18 inches high, flower early in the summer and continue till frost. There’s a mixture available as well as named varieties in white, in light tones and in deep shades from a good clear rose-pink to a blackish maroon.                    

   Creeping Zinnia

The Creeping Zinnia, not a zinnia at all but a sanvitalia, is a delightful subject for the rock garden. Given a dry location, plants practically care for themselves and produce a wealth of small double blooms. The old Red Riding Hood (Z. gracillima, horticulturally) is a pert, scarlet variety. Turned down petals of older blooms make them seem absurdly deep- and appealing- for their pygmy stems. This zinnia can be made to grow its diminutive flowers on a slope in gritty, sandy soil very much on the lean side.


A type that’s a hit in the garden and in arrangements is the Peppermint Stick strain which makes nicely formed, medium-sized striped flowers: red on a white ground; rose on yellow; orange on yellow; pink or purple on white. Not all flowers come true (that is, have stripes) but enough do to make a planting as merry as a circus. This strain and Z. linearis are among the earliest of their kind to bloom.




Both the size and coloring of the hybrid Giants are miraculous. They are as dramatic looking as any flower that grows; as immense, fluffy and glistening as certain chrysanthemums. There are two-or three-toned varieties, unusual pinks, corals, yellows. All seem to have strong stems and fine keeping qualities.

Organic Garden Tips             


Zinnias – Part One

Zinnias – Part One

Have you included zinnias in your garden this year? If so, you’re in good company, since the National Garden Bureau has designated 2000 the “Year of the Zinnia.” These easy, long-blooming tender annuals provide lots of color for the summer garden. The plants come in a variety of sizes, from 6-inch dwarfs to almost 4 feet high, and the flowers range from tiny button-like heads to large heads with double petals, in almost every color except true blue.

Zinnias are American natives that originated from the Southwest U.S., Mexico and Central America. The zinnia was named after the 18th century German botanist Dr. Johann Gottfried Zinn, who wrote the first description of this nondescript wildflower that grew in the Mexican deserts in the 18th century. Original wild zinnias were small, weedy, dull purplish-red, daisy-like flowers with single petals and a protruding cone in the middle. It would take nearly a century before European breeders seriously began developing it as a garden plant. Early varieties were introduced in the U.S. in 1796, with double forms appearing in the mid 1800’s, but the plant didn’t really take off until 1920, when Bodger Seeds Ltd. introduced the dahlia-flowered “Giant Dahlia,” and “California Giant,” a natural mutation of “Mammoth.” The large, flat-flowered heads and multiple colors started a new trend in plant habit

Hybridizers have turned this lowly wildflower into one of the most popular bedding plants. Zinnias now come in a wide variety of flower forms: single, semidouble, or double. Single-flowered zinnias have just one row of petals and the center of the flower is exposed. Double-flowered zinnias, with so many rows of petals that the center is hidden, have several shapes. Beehive types have small blooms with stacks of flat petals that resemble little beehives. Button-type flowers are similar to beehive except it’s flatter. The edges of each petal on cactus-shaped flowers roll under and the petal twists and bends. The petals on dahlia-flowered zinnias are large and flat and usually semi-double, which means that the flowers have many rows of petals but the center can be seen. 

Although there are more than a dozen species of zinnias, only a few species, all annuals in our climate, are regularly planted in gardens:

Zinnia elegans is the most common zinnia, and comes in heights up to 3 feet with single or double flower heads from 1 to 7 inches across. They bloom in all colors: pink, rose, red, cherry, lavender, purple, orange, salmon, gold, yellow, white, cream and light green. Some flowers are solid colored, while others are multicolored or zoned. Flower shape varies from round, domed or ball-shaped to dahlia- or chrysanthemum-like flowers. Tetraploid varieties (they have four, rather than the normal two, sets of chromosomes) were developed in the 1950’s that produced larger flowers on stronger stems, and displayed vigorous growth and increased disease resistance. Hybrid varieties were soon developed after that. Some common varieties of Z. elegans include:

The ” Border Beauty” series has 3½ inch, dahlia-like flowers that are semidouble to fully double, on 20-inch plants. 

The “Peter Pan” series are dwarf hybrids. Very large, slightly curled double flowers, up to 5 inches wide, are borne on compact 12-inch plants. Seven separate colors in this series have been recognized as All-American Selections (AAS) winners.

Wisconsin EDU