When you plant zinnias in your landscape, you are growing so much more than just a beautiful annual with stunning blooms!
Zinnias not only produce loads of colorful, bright flowers, they also bring an entire host of pollinators to other plants in your garden and flowerbeds. Pollinators that help your vegetable garden to bigger harvests, and perennials and annuals to more plentiful blooms.
Why You Should Be Planting Zinnias
Zinnias have long been prized for their big, showy blooms. With varieties that flower in every color of the rainbow and then some, they are sensational in flower beds, pots and containers, or for bordering gardens, walkways and more.
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Zinnias also happen to be one of the best annuals of all to grow for cut flowers. Their sturdy, strong stems hold up well in vases and arrangements, as do their long-lasting blooms.
Even better, zinnias are extremely drought and heat resistant. And if that wasn’t enough, they also happen to be fairly high on the list of deer resistant plants.
But it’s zinnias role in attracting pollinators and beneficial insects that really make them an ideal choice for gardeners. Much like with marigolds, nasturtiums and other popular flowering companion plants, zinnias can provide a whole host of added benefits for the plants growing around them. See : The Benefits Of Growing Marigolds In A Vegetable Garden
For starters, they are a major attraction for bees and butterflies. Which, of course, are two of the best pollinators around. But zinnias also attract predatory wasps with their sweet nectar.
In addition to helping pollinate, wasps also happen to be one of the best natural defenses against the tomato horn worm, aphids, and even the dreaded stinkbug. They actually lay their eggs on the host pests which ultimately kills them.
More Reasons To Love Zinnias
But it doesn’t stop there. Zinnias also are also a huge attraction for ladybugs. And there may be no better defense against mites and aphids than the dome-shelled ladybug. In fact, a single lady bug can eat an entire colony of three to five thousand aphids in its lifetime!
With all of those checks in the plus column, it’s easy to see why zinnias really are the perfect choice to add to your growing list. Here is a look at how to successfully grow them in your backyard:
How To Grow Zinnias
Zinnias are extremely easy to grow from seed, but are not well-suited for transplanting. As transplants, they often struggle to re-establish their roots into new surroundings.
For this reason, it is best to sow directly into the soil or containers. The good news is that zinnias germinate and grow quickly, so it won’t take long for the blooms to appear.
Especially when the soil and air temperatures have warmed to a solid 70+ degree baseline. It is important not to plant zinnias too early in the spring. Be sure to wait until all threat of frost has passed and the soil has warmed.
Plant zinnias in full sun in rich, fertile soil that drains well. If there is one drawback to growing zinnias, it is that they are susceptible to powdery mildew. By giving them plenty of sunlight and well draining soil, the risk of mildew will be greatly reduced.
Plant seeds shallow, no more than 1/4 to 1/2″ deep into the soil. Spacing will depend on how and where you grow. For row or hedge planting, allow 6″ between plants and at least 18″ between rows.
If planting to fill an entire bed space, allow at least 6″ between seeds and seedlings in all directions. This will allow them to grow together without too much crowding. Overcrowding plants can lead to mildew issues if there is no airflow between plants.
Water, Mulch & Fertilizer – Growing Zinnias
Zinnias are drought and heat tolerant, and tend to suffer more with too much water more than not enough. Young seedlings should be watered only when the soil becomes completely dry to the touch. Once established, plants will rarely need watering unless extremely dry conditions persist.
If planted in containers, they will require more regular watering. Be sure to allow the potting soil to dry out between watering to keep the roots from sitting in overly moist conditions.
Once young seedlings emerge through the soil, mulch to help regulate soil temperatures and control weeds. Zinnias do not like to compete for nutrients, and a 2 to 4″ layer of mulch will help to keep bed spaces clear.
Plants can be fertilized with a high quality balanced all-purpose fertilizer to help power more productive growth and blooms.
Allow young seedlings to establish in the soil for 4 weeks before applying a first dose. Apply a light application monthly thereafter to help plants continue strong flower production.
Cut and Come Again – Growing Zinnias
Zinnias will continue to produce as long as the spent blooms are cut back from the plants.They are well-known as a cut and come again plant, meaning if you keep cutting them, they will keep on producing. It is just one more reason they are a great choice to grow for cut flowers.
Varieties – Growing Zinnias
There are a whole slew of varieties to choose from planting. Varieties like Cut and Come Again are popular for their massive bloom sets that last all summer long.
Here is to growing zinnias in and and around your garden this year!
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