Zinnia flowers are actually an herb that belongs to the aster family. They are named after the German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. There are both annual and perennial zinnia plants.
Zinnia Scientific Name — Zinnia Elegans
These originally came from Mexico and are notable for their single, long-stemmed flowers that are available in a variety of different colors.
Description and Characteristics
These popular garden flowers are available in more than 100 different varieties. They have leaves that are opposite and usually they don’t have a stalk. The leaves range in shape from linear to ovate and in color from pale to middle green.
Their flowers also come in a variety of appearances including a single row of petals and a dome shape. The colors include white, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, purple and lilac.
Some of the things that zinnias symbolize include absent friends, lasting affection and goodness. This is because when the Aztecs first saw them, they were so unattractive that they called them an eyesore (which is what the name means in their language). Today they are Indiana’s state flower.
Cultivation and Care
Whenever you plan to grow zinnia flower seeds you will need to find an area that is well drained yet both moist and fertile. This will allow the flower to reseed itself with a new zinnia seed every summer thereafter. You will also need full sun and good fertile soil for growing zinnias.
Once you find somewhere to plant your zinnia you will want to place one seed per one square foot. Begin by raking the seedbed slightly before planting your seeds. Now add a general-purpose fertilizer (repeat monthly), water and you are done.
Caring For Zinnias
Zinnias are relatively easy to care for. You will need to remember to remove all of the dead flowers in order to encourage new growth. It is also a good idea to trim back the stems to keep your zinnias looking nice.
How To Harvest Zinnia Seeds
Since zinnias will not survive a hard frost, you may want to select a few dried seed heads (the center of the flower) that are mature and place them in a paper bag. Label your bag and store it either in your cool basement or in a jar in your refrigerator.
Diseases and Pests
Some of the most common diseases and pests of zinnias include:
- Powdery mildew will leave a white powder coating on the plant’s leaves. This is a fungus that will make your flowers develop an ashy gray coating. It can be treated by ensuring that your flowers are not overcrowded, too dry or wet, or being kept in cool weather
- Gray mold is a fungus that will cover the entire flower portion of the zinnia. You will need a fungicidal spray to get rid of this fungus.
- Leaf blight is another type of fungus. It usually shows up near the end of the growing season. To take care of it mix one teaspoon of baking soda in one quart of water. Spray this on your plants once a week.
- Root rot is characterized by rotting roots. In order to care for this you will need to remove the plant from the soil and wash off its roots before replanting it.
- Skinny seedlings will need more light or pinching
- Aphids cause the foliage to curl, pucker or turn yellow. These soft, pear-shaped pests cluster together on new growth where they suck out the plant’s juice. You should just pinch them off and put them in soapy water.
- Mites cause spotted, discolored leaves. They are about 1/50 inch long and barely can be seen by your eye. They will also suck the juice out of your zinnias. To take care of this pest you will need to spray your zinnia’s leaves with inscticidal soap.
- Japanese beetles will chew holes in the leaves. They are about ½ inch long with a shiny metallic green and copper-brown wing. You will want to handpick them just as soon as you see them and drop them into soapy water.
- Leafhoppers will create pale spots on the zinnia’s foliage. These are green, brown or yellow blunt looking bugs that are about ¼ to 1/3 inches long, wedge-shaped and hold their wings like a roof over their body. You will want to spray them with insecticidal soap or a pyrethrin, pyrethrum insecticide.
- Stem blight will cause brown spots or sores on your flowers. This is a fungus that will need to be cut out and discarded within the trash. Once this is done you will want to keep all weeds and dead plant debris away from your zinnias. It is also a good idea with a sulfur fungicide.
- Insects also spread viruses that cause spindly shoots, yellow foliage and curled leaves. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this. All you can do is dig up the plant and throw it away. Once you do this, make sure that you dip your gardening tools into a solution of one part bleach and three parts hot water.
- In gardens as a cutting bed, border or container
- In butterfly gardens
- By autumn brides who will mix them with chrysanthemums, gerberas, asters and garden roses.
There are a lot of different ways in which zinnias are used today, including:
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