Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.
Home gardeners have long enjoyed zinnias, one of the most popular warm-season bedding plants. New zinnia varieties have been introduced regularly over the last few years. Extended bloom and fewer disease issues are some of the primary criteria in development of new zinnia varieties.
Some of the newer zinnias include the Profusion and the Zahara groups. These landscape-type zinnias resulted from hybridization between the old cut-flower-type zinnias and the Mexican or narrowleaf zinnias.
Flowers and foliage are smaller than the old cut-flower-type zinnias but larger than the narrowleaf zinnias. Plants reach heights of 14-18 inches and will bloom from planting date until first killing frost. They are also a great improvement over the Dreamland and Peter Pan zinnias, which have been the primary varieties used the past 10 years for landscape plantings. These also are good replacements in the landscape for the Crystal White narrowleaf zinnia variety.
Both of these zinnia series are available in several colors. White, orange and cherry were the first introduced, and they are more of a traditional zinnia color. Newer colors include fire, apricot, coral, pink and yellow. Double forms in these flowers are now available, too. Several of these zinnias are All-America Selection winners.
Zinnias can be planted throughout the warm season in Louisiana. Summer plantings work just as well as spring plantings. Zinnias flower abundantly in fall. A full-sun location is best. Old flowers can be pinched off to encourage continual bloom, but Profusion and Zahara zinnias stay in flower much better and longer than other varieties.
Powdery mildew and leaf spot diseases (caused by fungus and bacteria) are sometimes a problem on zinnias but don’t occur on the Profusion series.
Zinnias perform best in drier years. Also, it is important to note that a well-drained bed is preferred. Irrigation isn’t needed very often, but avoid overhead irrigation if you do water these plants. In general, zinnias are remarkably drought-tolerant.
Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse or www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.