OUTDOOR SOWING THE SECRET FOR LONG-LASTING CUT ZINNIAS
Cut flower enthusiasts keen to grow zinnias, revealed as capable of lasting for 24 days in vase-lfe tests conducted by Johnsons last summer (2011), are being offered tips by the company on how to get these beautiful annual flowers off to the best possible start.
"Direct sowing is the key to success with zinnias", insists Johnsons Leila Russell. "They dislike being transplanted and suffer quite a check, but when sowing outdoors direct in the flowering position, it’s important the soil temperature is at least 10°C, as the seed will rot in cold wet, soils", says Leila. Direct sowings can be made in late April, all through May and even into early June. If in doubt, wait until conditions improve.
“Heavier soils will warm up quicker if covered with fleece for a few days prior to sowing, and it can be kept in place until the seedlings emerge”, she continues. "Zinnias are also well suited to being sown direct into well-drained patio containers, where compost has been placed a few days before sowing to allow it to warm up”.
For those gardeners who prefer to raise all their half-hardy annuals indoors, Leila suggests using bio-degradable or deep pots for sowings to minimise root damage and general disturbance when the young plants are set out to the garden.
“Finally, don’t forget zinnias attract butterrflies, bees and other beneficial insects, so they are great in the wildlife garden”, she concludes. Zinnias bloom continuously from July to October, with regular dead-heading prolonging flowering further.