Adding Zing to Your Garden with Zinnias

How can one not be happy when they see a garden full of happy Zinnias? These tough cheerful plants flower abundantly all through the Summer heat and will still be giving colour till Jack Frost arrives. Zinnias love full sun and a good drink once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions. It is best to ground water, or water in the morning as the older plants can be susceptible to powdery mildew. Zinnias prefer to be direct sown into the ground, but good success can be had if sowing them in 10cm pots and carefully transplanting them when they have two pairs of true leaves.  This is a good method if you live in the colder parts of Australia and want colour early in the season. Sow them about 1cm deep and water well. They should germinate in about 10 days, faster if the air temperature is warmer. When the plant is about 30cm high (this also depends if it is a dwarf or tall variety) pinch out the centre bud. Yes, I hear groans. This encourages the plant to bush out and the reward will be lots more flowers, though flowering will be delayed by a couple of weeks. Pick or deadhead your zinnias regularly to prolong flowering. Pick your zinnias for the house when the stem is stiff and straight and above a leaf or bud node so that they continue to produce more flowers. A little floral preservative or a teaspoon of bleach added to fresh water every second day will have them lasting in the vase up to 10 days.

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