Zinnia: Youth and Old Age
Height 15-75cm (6-30in)
Planting distance 15-30cm (6-12in)
Flowers mid summer to early autumn
The species name, elegans, has become increasingly inappropriate for this Mexican half-hardy annual as breeders produce ever-largeron ever-smaller plants. However, in compensation, there is now a wide range of flower colours: white, cream, yellow, orange, scarlet, crimson, purple and even green.
The flowers of almost all the varieties are fully double and resemble solid, drier-petalled ball dahlias. They appear from mid summer to early autumn and last well as cut flowers.
Varieties developed from Zinnia elegans offer tall or dwarf plants.
TALL VARIETIES reach 60-75cm (2 – 2-1/2ft) high and are suit-able for bedding or cutting. ‘Early Wonder Mixed’ is an early-flowering variety offering all the typical zinnia colours. ‘Envy’ has chartreuse green blooms, which make it popular among flower arrangers. ‘Peppermint Sticks’ is a-flowered strain with flowers striped or streaked with contrasting colours. ‘State Fair’ is a vigorous variety with salmon, orange, lavender, purple, rose, scarlet and yellow flowers.
DWARF VARIETIES are 30-45cm (12-18in) high and are good as edging plants or for bedding and pots. ‘Fairyland’ is a compact variety bearing a profusion of small flowers in red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, cream and gold. ‘Persian Carpet’ has miniature double flowers in yellow, orange, mahogany-red, maroon, chocolate and cream. ‘Thumbelina’ grows as small, 15cm (6in) high plants with double and semi-double flowers in mixed colours.
Sow the seeds under glass at a temperature of 21°C (70°F), set-ting the seeds singly in 7.5cm (3in) whalehide pots, as zinnias dislike root disturbance. Harden off and plant out when danger of frost has passed in late spring, setting tall-flowered varieties 30cm (1ft) apart and dwarf varieties 15cm (6in) apart. Grow them in fertile well-drained soil in full sun.
You can sow seeds directly in the flowering site in late spring.
Pests and diseases
Viruses may cause mottling of the leaves.