Nothing says summer more than an armload of cheerful zinnias. Available in a brilliant rainbow of colors, these happy blooms are a must-grow for any flower lover.
As one of the easiest cut flowers to cultivate, they are a perfect first crop for beginning growers and are reliable, prolific producers for most flower farms.
We’ve been growing zinnias since the beginning, and every year I fall more and more in love with them.
Zinnias resent cold weather and prefer to be planted after things have warmed up a bit. Many gardeners in warmer parts of the world are able to successfully direct seed their zinnias straight into the field, but here in cool Washington we start our plants in 72-cell trays in the greenhouse 4 to 6 weeks before our last spring frost.
Plants are tucked into the field around mid-May, once the weather has sufficiently warmed up and all danger of frost has passed. Like every flower grown on our farm, we try to give them the best start possible. Learn more about soil preparation here.
Once the planting beds have been prepared, we lay down four lines of drip irrigation, roughly a foot (30.5 cm) apart, then the beds are covered with a layer of pre-burned landscape fabric to control weeds. Plants are spaced 9 inches (23 cm) apart with five rows per bed.
If given good soil and a steady supply of water, plants can get huge and require some type of support. We use a layer of Hortonova netting stretched horizontally about 12 inches (30.5 cm) above the ground. Netting is held in place by metal hoops that we made with our Johnny’s Quick Hoops Bender. Any type of stake, wooden or metal, will work just fine. As the plants grow, they push up through the grid of netting and get the support they need.
Zinnias like the heat, and it’s important that they are grown in full sun. In addition to choosing a sunny spot, I always grow them in fabric for the added heat.
When we first started growing zinnias this closely together I was worried that they would be plagued by disease, but since they are grown in such rich soil, this hasn’t been a problem. We succession sow zinnias every 2 to 3 weeks in order to have a steady stream of these beautiful blooms all summer long.
I would love to hear your experience with this wonderful group of plants. Do you grow zinnias or plan to add them to your garden this coming season? If so, what are your favorite varieties, or what new treasures are you adding to your wishlist?
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Readmore: Discovering Biennials