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Gardening from Southern California

...single flower zinnia
by Gerald Burke
by Gerald Burke


Gerald Burke is a freelance travel and horticultural writer. He spent 35 years in the seed business, 30 of them with Burpee, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association

April 30, 2006

There was a time when it would be hard to find a single flowered zinnia in the garden, but plant breeders are always working with old varieties, trying to improve them and to come up with something new and different. So it is with single zinnias. They have now become the popular zinnia to have in the garden, and some of the new ones have won All-America awards.

I can’t say that single flowered zinnias are my favorites, but there are some good ones, and since they have better disease tolerance than the big, double flowered kinds, I plant them and enjoy them.

The Profusion Series, Cherry, White and Orange are among the best of them and they’re all AA Winners. I object to the fact that the plants aren’t compact, but on the other hand, half a dozen plants will spread well in a flower bed, usually covering up to 18 inches to two feet each. Other good attributes they have are that they flower profusely, as the name suggests, and the spreading plants are covered with blooms all summer long and well into late fall. The plants get about a foot tall, so you need to remember this and their spread when planting.

Pinwheel was one of the earlier successful single zinnias, and it has fairly big blooms, some as much as three inches across. Park Seed Co. lists a different one, Red Spider, that looks interesting and I may grow it this year. Some of the older single zinnias still look good, and one of the best is Chippendale Daisy. It’s a bicolored zinnia, in mahogany red with golden edges in the petals. And the Starbright Series is a mix of orange, gold and white, with narrow leaves, somewhat more compact than the Profusions, with good disease resistance.

All zinnias are easy to grow from seed, quick to germinate in warm weather, and quick to grow and bloom. The single flowered kinds will be in bloom around six weeks after they show their first true leaves when sown from seed. Most good gardeners prefer to grow zinnias from seed rather than from started plants, since zinnias aren’t usually happy when they’re transplanted. You can start from bedding plants, but wait until May or June, and be very careful not to break the root ball, and water the plants immediately.

Seed catalogs list many different kinds of zinnias, including the single flowered kinds, and you can usually find some on the seed rack, particularly the Profusion Series, and often Chippendale Daisy.

Plant zinnias in good soil in full sun everywhere, keep well watered during the hot summer, but don’t let water stand around the plants, and it helps to keep spent blooms picked off.

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