Put your Zinnias to Bed
Zinnias have truly come into their own with brighter colours and short or tall plants, depending on what you need in a garden bed or container.
In the heat of summer in hot, dry conditions, zinnias will thrive and have a lovely long-flowering season. Give them the basic care requirements and they will perform brilliantly all through summer and into autumn.
• Plant in well-draining soil that has been enhanced with plenty of compost to make it rich.
• Make sure they get plenty of sun – at least 6 – 8 hours a day.
• Prepare the area before planting seedlings as they can suffer transplant shock. To avoid this, go about removing the plants from the nursery containers carefully by pushing each cavity from underneath and popping the plants out and planting in holes the same depth as in the trays.
• Water well when planting and then water at the base of the plants when the soil is dry 5cm below the surface. Watering at the base will help prevent fungal diseases and adding a layer of mulch will help conserve water and keep the weeds down.
• Feed every 4 weeks with a flower and fruit fertiliser to keep them blooming.
• Rotate the planting position of your zinnias every year.
These are tough plants that have few problems, however look out for the following:
• They do not like frost, so plant at the correct time of the year.
• Space zinnias well apart from each other to avoid fungal diseases, like leaf spot and powdery mildew, to allow air circulation. If you see signs of the disease, treat with a copper-based fungicide. If your garden is susceptible to powdery mildew, look out for the disease-resistant varieties.
There are some beauties to choose from this year. Look out for these varieties in your garden centre:
‘Zahara’ – large flowers and disease-resistant singles and doubles and bicolour varieties like ‘Starlight’ and ‘Sunburst’. 30 x 45cm.
‘Profusion’ – for hot and cool conditions, long-flowering and disease-resistant. 25 x 40cm.
‘Zydeco’ – large doubles, disease-resistant and heat- and drought-tolerant. 35 x 50cm.
‘Zesty’ – new variety of large brightly-coloured blooms that are very good pollinator attractors. 45 x 60cm.
Vase Flowers Tip
The more you cut zinnias for the vase, the more they flower. They will last in a vase for about 5 days and they can be cut at the base of the plant to harvest the stems.
A Touch on Cannas
Many gardeners will stay away from growing cannas because of the invasive nature of Canna indica and its Category 1b status in South Africa, but there are some great hybrid varieties available that are not invasive and will not spread. Look out for Canna x generalis ‘Cannova’ series that come in a variety of colours from yellow, orange, cream and pink with attractive foliage. They are especially low-maintenance requiring very little for maximum output.
Brought to you by the Bedding Plant Growers Association (BPGA)
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