Allen D. Owings | 4/10/2006 9:25:30 PM
One of the newest groups of zinnias catching on the last five years have been the Profusion series. These zinnias are rapidly gaining popularity among home gardeners and landscape professionals.
Profusion zinnias are a landscape zinnia – a hybrid between the old cut-flower-type zinnias and the Mexican or narrowleaf zinnias, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
Flower and foliage are smaller than the old cut-flower-type zinnias but larger than the narrowleaf zinnias. They are also a great improvement over the Dreamland and Peter Pan zinnias, which have been the primary zinnias used the last 10 years for landscape plantings.
Profusion zinnias are available in five colors. Three have been around a few years: Profusion White, Orange and Cherry. Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot were introduced in 2004 and are outstanding.
White, orange and cherry are all All-America Selection winners. Profusion White and Profusion Orange were recognized as outstanding plants for Louisiana under the old Louisiana Select program for their superior landscape performance.
The orange flowers of Profusion Orange start out very bright and gradually fade with age. The bright white flowers of Profusion White fade to creamy white. The reddish flowers of Profusion Cherry fade to an off-color red and pink.
Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot have the most colorful flowers in the series. Fire has reddish-orange flowers, and Apricot has light orange to peach flowers. Flower color holds up well on these two varieties.
"In our LSU AgCenter bedding plant trials, Profusion Orange, Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot have been the better performers," Owings reports.
Ideal planting dates are early April in south Louisiana and mid-April in central and north Louisiana. You can continue to plant zinnias into the season; they make a nice late-summer planting for plentiful fall flowers, Owings adds.
The horticulturist says do a late-summer planting for plentiful fall flowers. A full-sun location is best. Old flowers can be pinched off to encourage more continual bloom, but Profusion zinnias stay in flower much better and longer than other zinnias.
Powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases (caused by fungus and bacteria) are sometimes a problem on zinnias but are less prone to damage Profusion. Zinnias perform best in drier years. Also, it is important to note that a well-drained bed is preferred, and irrigation does not need to be often. Zinnias are remarkably drought-tolerant.
For related gardening and landscape information, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Also, contact the county agent in your local parish LSU AgCenter office.
Source: Allen D. Owings (225) 578-2222, or firstname.lastname@example.org