July 26, 2009

Zinnias - An Annual Event

This is the first summer that I've sown zinnia seeds. The success rate and beauty of these annuals has convinced me that these are great flowers for the garden and for cutting. Zinnias have earned their way into my garden from now on!

I've focused on the taller varieties such as Benary's Giant Purple and Giant Lilac as well as Lilac Emperor Cactus Flowered and a few other miscellaneous types.

The tall varieties that are 30-36 inches tall fit in well with perennial salvias such as 'Black & Blue' and 'Mystic Spires'. The zinnias are also easy to mix with other plants with spire-shaped blooms such as agastache 'Heather Queen' and 'Purple Pygmy'.

This year's color scheme has been based on deep rose/magenta to light pink and purple blooms. I also have a few of the green blooms and have recently sown Giant White (not yet in bloom).

As sometimes happens with seeds, there is one "stray" in the mix, but it is such a pleasant golden yellow/orange zinnia that I want to use it in a mass planting.

I will mix hot colors of zinnias in the butterfly garden next summer. I've not had a problem with deer eating the zinnias, but the seedlings must be protected from rabbits until the flowers are tall enough to be out of reach.

Since early May, I've been direct sowing the seeds about every two weeks in the cottage garden and even out in the deer resistant garden to see how quickly they germinate and bloom. I try to sow the seeds right after, or right before, a good rainfall. Keeping the seeds moist in full sun works well for starting the zinnia seeds.

With annuals this pretty and this reliable, I may move a few perennials from one of the cottage garden beds to make room for more zinnias. Next year, I won't be so tentative about when and where to plant the zinnias! I want huge mass plantings for more impact instead of a scattering here and there.

One more thing... I love to photograph these blooms!

Photos and words by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; July 2009.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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