Zesty zinnias named Louisiana Super Plant for spring 2024

By Heather Kirk-Ballard

LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

I am pleased to share that Zesty zinnias (Zinnia elegans) have been named a Louisiana Super Plant for spring 2024. Zinnias are beloved flowers for the garden for their bright, cheerful colors and large flower heads on tall, single stalks. They are great for cut flower production or for just adding bright colors to the landscape. They bloom from late spring through the fall, providing an extended bloom period.

Zinnias are a popular genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Native to grasslands of the southwestern United States and South America with a center of diversity in Mexico, vividly colored zinnias are a favorite of many gardeners and florists.

These low-maintenance flowers are foolproof. They are both heat and drought tolerant and don’t require much to put on a beautiful display in the landscape. Zinnias are warm-season annuals that grow well from seed. They also can be planted as transplants straight into the landscape or container.

Zesty zinnias have a mounded growth habit, growing up to 24 inches in height at full maturity and spreading the same. They should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart and planted in full sun — at least six to eight hours of sunlight daily — for the most blooms. Afternoon shade is best for extending plants through the hot summer season. Although they can tolerate some drought once established, they will need supplemental watering during extended periods of heat and minimal rainfall.

Zinnias are not heavy feeders, but they do benefit from an occasional dose of liquid fertilizer. It’s always a good idea to prepare the planting bed by adding compost for a boost of nutrition for the plants; this also helps improve soil structure. You can add a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting.

Space plants properly to allow good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew on foliage. In addition, when watering, you should water plants at the soil line to prevent powdery mildew, leaf spots and rots. Additionally, keep an eye out for aphids, Japanese beetles and thrips that also enjoy the plants. Use organic options such as horticultural oils or soaps if they become a problem but be aware this will harm other pollinators.

Deadhead plants and remove spent flowers to keep plants looking tidy and encourage more blooms. Collect dry flower heads and save seeds for the next year, or just let them fall and enjoy them next growing season.

The gorgeous flowers are not only great for the landscape and container plantings, but they are awesome for the bees and other pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects. Planting zinnias among vegetables can help attract pollinators.

Flowers are fully double and have excellent vigor. The large flowers display vibrant colors all season long in colors of fuchsia, pink, purple, scarlet, white and yellow. Zinnias make excellent cut flowers due to their long vase life and vibrant colors. In addition, zinnias produce more when cut, making them perfect selections for cut garden flowers. Harvest zinnias early in the morning or later in the evening to prevent wilting, cutting stems long. Remove lower leaves and place in water quickly.

Zinnias embody a cheerful and zesty spirit, bringing life and color to any garden setting. Their ease of care and vibrant beauty make them an excellent choice for both new and experienced gardeners. They are a superb choice for the Louisiana Super Plants list due to their dependable beauty and ease of care.

The Louisiana Super Plant program is an LSU AgCenter educational and marketing campaign that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well throughout the state of Louisiana. Each spring and fall, AgCenter horticulturists announce the Louisiana Super Plants selections for that year. Louisiana Super Plants have a proven track record with many years of reliable performance in Louisiana landscapes or have gone through several years of university evaluations and observations. Look for these plants at local nurseries.

Yellow flowers.

Large flower heads on tall stalks make zinnias excellent cut flower selections. Photo provided by Elena Fennel

Purple flowers.

Zesty zinnias are the spring 2024 Louisiana Super Plant. Photo by Ashley Hickman/LSU AgCenter

Purple flowers.

Zesty zinnias grow well in containers and in the landscape. Photo by Ashley Hickman/LSU AgCenter

Orange and pink flowers.

Zesty zinnias come in an array of gorgeous colors including yellow, scarlet, pink, purple, fuchsia and white. Photo provided by Elena Fennel

4/24/2024 2:04:23 PM
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