Smith County Master Gardener
Zinnias and marigolds are among the first seeds people plant when beginning to garden. I remember helping my mom plant them when I was 4-5 years old. They pop up fast and grow very rapidly.
First blooms appear in about six weeks. I tell all of my young gardening friends who are on tight budgets to plant zinnia seeds. A packet of seeds can cost from 25 cents to $2 or more. You get a lot of bang for such a small price.
Zinnias are American flowers, coming from Mexico. They grow where summers are hot and will take some drought. They like dry climates, but are forgiving of our humid summers. A rainbow of colors are what you get with mixed seeds. They can stand 3 to 4 feet tall or can barely reach 6 inches.
The sweet little Zinnia angustifolia blooms all summer in yellow, orange, and white. Only growing about 12-15 inches tall but much wider, it is one of our most reliable summer border flowers. The tall ones (pictured), often succumb to mildew in summer especially if watered with sprinklers.
Zinnias were introduced into society in the mid seventeen hundreds and at that time they were not much to brag about. As horticulturists worked with them and im proved color, size, and performance, they have become one of America’s garden staples.
Once they grow their third set of leaves, pinch the top set out. This will make them branch out. Cut those flowers for inside bouquets.
The more you cut, the more they bloom. If you have children or grandchildren, show them how to cut a bouquet with scissors. I love to dry the blooms in silica gel, cornmeal, or cat litter. They dry beautifully and are fun to use in dried floral arrangements.
Purchase a packet of zinnia seeds and enjoy beautiful colorful zinnias in your garden.
This beautiful red zinnia blooms happily in the IDEA Garden next to the service drive in front of the storage shed. All our gardens have zinnias of all sizes and colors.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing in the Tyler Rose Garden.