June 1, 2013 6:04:29 PM
When you think of summer blooms in the home landscape, it's hard not to think about zinnias.
A lot of attention has been given to the Profusion and Zahara series of zinnia in summer and fall landscapes. Profusion is a Mississippi Medallion winner and both are All-America Selections. They provide fantastic summer color.
But I like the old-fashioned zinnia elegans with the big, pompom flowers on long stems that are perfect for cutting and bringing inside. And guess what? Some of these are All-America Selections, too.
Consider the 2006 All-America Selection Zowie Yellow Flame. The flowers are a fiery bicolor that change color as the flower opens. Multiple layers of yellow-edged petals open to reveal a scarlet-rose center tipped with yellow stamens. Zowie Yellow Flame reaches about 29 inches tall with a spread of up to 24 inches.
Another great choice for the home garden and landscape is the Magellan zinnia series. In 2005, Magellan Coral was an All-America Selection, but the entire series is worthy of this distinction.
Magellan zinnias are shorter and stockier than some of the other Zinnia elegans and have a mature height of about 18 inches. Because of the shorter, thicker stems, the plant does not require staking even though the flowers are enormous. The flowers resemble dahlia-like pompoms and are available in single and mixed colors. I like mass planting the mixtures, as they look like a colorful carnival in the landscape.
Maintenance and cutting tips
These zinnias actually require very little maintenance during the season.
Proper fertilization is critical to maintaining the gorgeous flowers. Apply a slow-release fertilizer monthly to keep nutrition levels constant. Deadhead fading flowers to keep the plants tidy and producing new blooms. But because these are such good cut flowers, you probably won't need to deadhead -- all the flowers will end up inside in vases anyway.
These zinnia selections have great vase life and can still look good seven days after you cut them.
Follow a few tips when collecting these flowers for the vase. Always cut early in the morning and select flowers that are not quite fully open. Zinnias will continue to open after they are cut and in water. Carry a small bucket of water with you when collecting these flowers. As soon as you cut a stem with sharp scissors or a knife, place it in the water. Add a floral-life product to the collection bucket to keep the flowers fresh.
Zowie Yellow Flame and Magellan zinnia bloom all summer and fall until frost ends the colorful garden show. Find a place in your garden for these beauties today.