Page 48 - Apr2017

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Violet zinnias were the first variety
introduced to Europe around 1790, and
several other zinnias of vibrantly colored
varieties came from India later in the
1800s. Since then, hundreds of cultivars
continue to be refined, with new crops of
zinnia varieties touted each year as the
best yet.
These bursting beauties are often
personified with vivid imagery likening
them to stars, daisies, spiders, buttons,
and domes. The blooms may be
single, semi-double or double. Tall
varieties include the Benary Giant
with three foot tall stems and large
flowers, as well as those labeled
tetraploids
which are specially bred
with extra chromosomes for larger
flowers and greater vigor. For those
preferring smaller and shorter styles,
there are dwarf selections called
Persian Carpet and Old Mexico as
well as a dwarf hybrid series called
Peter Pan.
Zinnias are annuals, planted
anew each year either from seed
or transplants bought from local
nurseries; most have upright stems
from four to forty inches tall,
although there are those that will
produce spreading mounds over the
garden surface. Planted in fertile,
well-draining soil in full sun, they will
continually reseed themselves and
flourish in our long hot summers.
They need very little maintenance,
only a little weeding now and then
along with some deadheading of
spent blooms which will encourage
new bloom growth. Water when
needed, preferably only at the base
of the plant as wet leaves can cause
mildew and fungus.
In 2016,
NASA
announced that a
zinnia
had blossomed on the
International Space Station
,
the first flower ever grown outside the earth’s biosphere.
Save and collect zinnia seeds for next year. Toward the end of the growing season,
let the flowers dry on the stem, collect the seed head, and store in a cool dry place.
Because zinnias have such elegance and
style in addition to long, strong stems,
they work stunningly well in vases and
floral arrangements, and as cut flowers
they can be enjoyed indoors as well as
out of doors. Cut zinnias in the morning,
at an angle just above the bud joint,
strip the stems of most of the leaves,
and give them a good drink in a bucket
of water for several hours. This will help
to maximize their longevity in floral
arrangements.
Mostly resistant to pests and disease,
these remarkable plants can also be
employed as companion plants in a
DID YOU KNOW?
Zinnia Persian Carpet flowers mix
Benary Giant Zinnias
48 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
APRIL 2017