Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Love Of Zinnias

From And Sow My Garden Grows

Zinnias first came to my attention about 3 years ago while in my neighbors back yard. The back of her house which is full sun was graced with hundreds of them. I just had to have a vase full. After running home to get a vase and clippers I found myself in her back yard alone wondering how many I could cut without leaving her a big gap. They were beyond beautiful. They were happy on my table for days and so was I. I convinced myself from that point on that I could grow them. I had no excuse with failing. If my neighbor could do it so could I. I mean, they were feet away just over the fence from where I'd grow them..our soil had to except these flowers! I have been growing them from that year on. They line my side of the yard for months from Spring to sometimes October. I  have read that the tall varieties can reach 3ft. I have had some at nearly 5ft. I cut them and fill vases galore for neighbors, teachers, family and of course us. They rebloom like crazy and come in about every color but blue. Last year I saved my zinnia seeds.  Choose your favorite blooms and let your blooms completely dry either on the stem or you can cut them off and place in the sun to dry.  After they dry pull the seeds off by tugging on the petals. You will see the seed at the base of the petal like I show in my picture. I had so many dried zinnia blooms last year that I just popped them all into a large container whole to save  them without separating the seeds. I broke the dried flower head apart directly above the prepared soil. The heads of the zinnias will just mulch back down in to the ground and this sure saves time.  It also helped me notice where they were when covering the seeds lightly with soil. Unless you are saving your seeds in envelopes to share or want to separate your blooms by variety type there really is not need to go to all that work of separating the seeds from petals.  As long as I have a garden, they will have a home. Here are some helpful growing tips.

Sow seeds directly in their permanent location in late spring after the soil has warmed and frost has passed. Space plants 9 to 12 inches apart (I like them full and have had no problems with crowding them) Larger varieties may require more room. Always follow the planting and spacing guide for your particular variety. Commercial packaging generally provides adequate instructions for planting and spacing on the back of the seed packet. Cover lightly with soil and keep evenly moist until seeds germinate. The germination process is very important!
Water regularly until the plants are established. Although they do not generally require watering and survive nicely under normal weather conditions, additional water may be needed during dry periods. Monitor for signs of excessively dry soil or wilting of leaves. Harvest zinnias before the flower is completely open for an impressive cut flower that holds well in a vase. Don't be afraid to cut them for a vase. They are prolific bloomers!


Mr Brown Thumb said...

Great tutorial. I was just awed by the picture in your sidebar of the zinnias and cosmos. They look awesome! I hope they look that luxurious in my garden this year.

And Sow My Garden Grows said...

Mr Brown Thumb ~ Thank you for the wonderful compliment! I really have been enjoying your blog and it was very exciting to have a comment from you :) They are beautiful flowers for sure! My seeds have sprouted and are extremely happy to have the rain we have had these last few days (so am I for watering reasons :) Good luck with your zinnias - share some pictures for me! :)