Fagus Times Zinnia
Read this month's feature Fagus Times Zinnia, written for Fagus Gardening Club's online magazine on behalf of club President Mary Payne MBE.
If there is one autumn annual that will stop you in your tracks, then it’s zinnia. Zinnia are definitely not shrinking violets but instead shout their presence from the border with a loud speaker: ‘LOOK AT ME!”
Originating from Mexico these nectar-rich, sun-loving show offs scream vibrant vivid colours of raspberry and shocking pink through to orange and golden hues, which bloom from mid-summer until first frosts.
The Victorian’s symbolised zinnia as an absent friend but they are commonly reminiscent of endurance, friendship, affection and everlasting love. Zinnias have many traits similar to dahlias, such as cut and come again, the more you deadhead, the more they will bloom. They also share the same family, Asteraceae, the daisy family.
Did you know zinnias were the first flower ever to be grown from seed to bloom in space on an official NASA mission. In January 2016 zinnia successfully bloomed on the International Space Station (ISS). That really is out of this world!
Zinnia elegans or Common Zinnia, are drought tolerant, grow from 30-90cm tall and can be single, semi-double or double. Great in borders or containers they make gorgeous cut flowers. Keep them well spaced to avoid mildew. Grow indoors from seed February to April, sow directly outdoors from May or buy as plugs or fully established plants for instant zing.
The tall stems of ‘Purple Prince’ are one of the most well known varieties of zinnia. They work well plugging gaps, grouped with grasses or in the spotlight as the dazzling stars of mixed borders.
‘Queen Lime,’ ‘Queen Lime Orange,’ and ‘Queen Red Lime’ boast exquisite pompon-type petals, or try the exotic looking bicolour ‘Swizzle’ series or ‘Aztec Sunset,’ ‘Orange King’ or 'Benary’s Giant Orange' doubles; whereas Zinnia tenuifolia, red spider, provides a more minimalistic unusual single bloom.
Whatever your preference, they are all a big hit with bees, butterflies, hoverflies and humans!
All photos © Debi Holland 2021