Zinnias originated in Mexico as a gawky perennial. The flower is truly timeless in its ability to win favor with the world's gardeners. It qualifies as an "heirloom" in the truest sense of the word - "heirloom" being defined as a plant that's been cultivated over 50 years, the seed having been passed down over generations. The hardy Zinnia was grown by the Aztecs! It was, over time, hybridized by breeders around the world. The Zinnia gets its name from Johann Gottfried Zinn, an 18th century German botanist who worked to bring us the beautiful blooming annuals evolving into the many varieties we know and enjoy today.
There are two major classes of Zinnias. First there are the zinnias elegans. These include all of the varieties that have a wide range of colors (all except blue) and a variety of flower types such as singles, doubles, cactus or dahlia type, ruffles and pompons. Zinnia elegans have been popular with gardeners for many years and have been called youth-in-old-age as the blossoms last so long on the plants. They blossom all season long and are a long lasting cut flower. The magnificent Benary’s Giant falls into this class. They come in all the colors of our Supremes and also mixed colors; so specify “Benary’s Giant” when you order if you want BIG. We have an unusual Benary/Cactus cross to delight!
Control Powdery Mildew
We've read articles by others who have had excellent results from using bicarbonates and horticultural oils for controlling mildew on plants. (R.K. Horst, "Powdery and Downy Mildews"; National Gardening) One of our favorite remedies is to use one tablespoon of baking soda to one gallon of water and spray it directly on the leaves and other parts of the affected plant. Weekly spraying thereafter, as long as weather and climate conditions prevail, should keep your zinnias mildew free! Cultivating where and in a way the stems, leaves and blooms get plenty of air and direct sunlight help prevent the problem as well. This solution won't hurt the bees or birds or frogs that do their work or make their home in your gardens!
Summer was especially hot and humid in mid-Michigan. The threat of powdery mildew and rust infection came very early in the season. If you are unable to control the environment with the more natural methods mentioned above, you may want to buy IMMUNOX multipurpose fungicide spray concentrate by Spectracide. We've found it to be immediately effective when used according to label instructions. You can only use it a total of six times, once every two weeks, for 12 weeks, and the warning on the label stated it could be harmful to fish; so avoid using the product around back yard ponds or other natural waterways So begin treatment early if symptoms appear and you seem unable to stem the fungus tide in the garden by natural means.
English garden of Dr. David Percival, England
Van Dyke Zinnias in a floral display at the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley (www.rhs.org.uk) summer 2009. Courtesy of Dr. David Percival
Top Ten Tips for Growing Zinnias That Zzzzzzzing!
Before planting, store seeds in a cool (32-50°), dry location. If you forget to plant the seeds you buy the first season, you can plant them the next season, but germination rates decrease by 10-15% each year. Van Dyke Zinnia seed germination rates approach 90% or better. Australia customer reported a 12 year life of a lost then found seed pack.
Plant in a sunny location in well drained soil after the last spring frost. Do not plant in areas that ever have standing water. A minimum of six hours of sun is a must for nice blossoms. Full sun all day is best. Zinnias are drought tolerant unlike many annuals.
Plant seeds where you want them to grow. Plants grown from seed tend to be larger and stronger than transplants. Transplants are ok for "instant color." See web for instructions.
Work up the ground before planting to a depth of 6-8 inches for good root development and stronger plants. Mix well-rotted cow manure into the beds both in spring and fall for an optimally rich soil preparation. If you have access to campfire ash or ash from a wood burner, mix it throughout the beds during the year when the soil is at rest, as it adds potassium and phosphorus. Epsom salts sprinkled 4 times: in spring, just before blooming, seeding, and at season’s end—adds magnesium sulfate to your soil—good for all the green parts. Try it one season and you will be a believer! No droopy zinnias anymore.
Plant seeds broadcast spread to 1/8– 1/4 inch deep, and keep soil moist. If no rain falls, water every day until seeds germinate, then every other day until plants are four inches tall.
Watering techniques. When plants reach four inches, begin watering at the base of the plant, limiting the amount of water that gets on the foliage. This helps to prevent mildew and rust. IF the problem persists, use Immunox by Spectracide to rid your plants of pests and disease. Natural solutions are available but not as immediately effective. Best used as a preventative.
Weeding is important. Keep beds weed free! After weeding, apply a light mulch around (but not touching) the plants. Weeds seriously limit the size and robustness of the plants.
Spaced thin or thick? Thin for taller zinnias. Thin plants to 4-6 inches apart. For bushy plants with larger blossoms, thin to 8-12 inches apart. If you plant them closer together, you'll minimize weeding, and the stalks will help hold each flower up, even in strong wind. But if it's large, robust plants you want, thin them as described above to discourage disease.
Fertilizing is key. Get your soil tested at your local agriculture extension office and apply fertilizer as recommended. Organic fertilizers are best, especially compost and rotted (aged) manure. Zinnias like soil that is slightly alkaline, ~ph of 7. Always apply liquid fertilizer at ground level. The leaves are sensitive to liquid fertilizer. Dilute 1 tbsp. Epsom salts to one gallon water and bathe plants. Also sprinkle Epsom salt crystals on the flower beds as preparation before planting and let rain dissolve it naturally.
Cut & Bloom & bloom & bloom! Keep spent blossoms deadheaded or cut and your zinnias will continue to bloom all summer long! Zinnias make excellent cut flowers. Doing this will be good for the remaining plants, as they will not have to compete as vigorously for resources. Long stem zinnias in a tall vase make for more elegant or striking arrangement.
"Bah-dah-BING! Thatsa SPICEY Bouquet!"
Rocky Mountain Prairie Zinnias - a slow-growing perennial
WHAT A DEAL! FREE PACK OF SEEDS for every $20 worth of product you order!
To become a Van Dyke Supreme Variety Zinnia, a flower type must first be grown at the Farm and its attributes tested against our own high standards for what is beautiful and perfect in the realm of horticulture. We have grown and tested or are testing this season, each of the varieties we sell. Here are some facts about our Zinnias:
1. We do not hybridize, but rather grow all our stock by direct seeding, allowing open pollination, thereby supporting natural selection. We will plant hybridized Zinnias to observe and experience them, but will only add their seed to our stock after it passes muster with our criteria for fine Zinnias.
2. We are small but picky growers of Van Dyke Zinnias, hand selecting every flower whose seed will be mixed with our stock to become a Supreme Variety Zinnia – Zen on a Stem ™ -- this means that our stock contains our choice of fine Zinnia types you may know or have read about.
3. We harvest them by SIZE, COLOR, and PETAL TYPE, creating from the best of the best, our own Supreme Variety mix of Zinnia seed for sale. See order form for description of what’s in the mix.
4. Where we have found a market and outlet for specialty types, we are growing more of them, being able then to respond to customers when these types are requested. We also deal with reputable suppliers from whom we purchase our own trial seed; so we may also special order these items for you if you do not want any of our “Mix” products.
5. Finally, we guarantee all of our seed. If you are not completely satisfied, we will happily reship you a duplicate order so you may try again! Warranty extends only to the purchase price of the seed; no other or further warranty or guarantee is given or implied.
Remember, we have an educational web site, established to add value to your seed purchase, and an e-mail address so you may be able to quickly receive a response to your questions, concerns, or gardening problems. Thanks for shopping with us! We hope to hear from you again soon!
**************************************************** CONTACT INFORMATION
Van Dyke Zinnias / LobaTek Incorporated Sharon Fernandez, President 2743 Bartlett Rd., Pleasant Lake, MI 49272 WWW.VANDYKEZINNIAS.CO
Get our ionic sulfate mineral products at the following links:WWW.VANDYKEZINNIAS.CO(good, safe water for people, plants, flowers, and animals)
WWW.LOBATEK.COM(Adya Clarity-safe water for people, plants, flowers and animals) Electronic mail: SFernandez@Lobatek.com ******************************************************************
"Kapieren und Kopieron", or "First understand Nature, and then copy it."--Viktor Schauberger