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Once they could not be missing in any cottage garden; the zinnias. Today they are celebrating their comeback and impress with a long flowering period from May to October and a wide variety of colours.

In a nutshell

  • Zinnias (Zinnia) are annual summer flowers of the daisy family
  • They grow upright, unbranched to branched and herbaceous
  • There are tall and dwarf varieties with single or double flowers
  • Sowing is possible in preculture or direct sowing in beds and tubs
  • Prick out seedlings that are too dense and only plant out after the frost

Prefer indoors

Appropriate seed is available in garden shops, where seed packets with colorful mixtures are often offered. If you already have one or the other specimen, you can harvest seeds from them when the time comes. In general, you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the sowing date. For the propagation you need small, 9 cm flower pots, low-nutrient seed soil, a watering can with a spray attachment and of course the seeds. So-called multi-pot trays from garden retailers are particularly suitable for sowing.

  • Sow in preculture, usually from February/March
  • First fill the pots with seed compost up to the rim
  • Tap several times to allow the soil to settle
  • Or gently press down the soil with your hands
  • Sow three to five seeds per pot on the substrate
  • Don't plant seeds too close together
  • Moisten the substrate, ideally with a spray bottle
  • Then let some soil trickle over the seeds
  • Seed depth according to the information on the seed bag
  • Moisten the substrate again and keep it evenly moist from now on
  • Cover pots with cling film or glass
  • Then put it in a warm and bright, not sunny place
  • Remove cover daily for ventilation
  • Optimum temperatures for germination are constant at around 18 degrees
  • Germination takes about 14 days

Direct sowing in the bed

Zinnias can also be sown directly in the bed, but not before the ice saints, i.e. mid/end of May to June at the earliest. Under no circumstances should the seed sprout as long as night or ground frosts are still to be expected, because it is extremely sensitive to cold.

  • It is best to sow directly on the spot
  • Pricking out and transplanting is then usually not necessary
  • First prepare the bed for the seed
  • Soil should be finely crumbly
  • Work in plenty of compost
  • Sow smaller varieties at intervals of about 20 centimetres
  • For larger, distances of 30-40 cm recommended
  • For the formation of long flower stalks, dense sowing advisable
  • When planting in rows, sow 30cm apart
  • Press the seeds about three centimeters deep into the soil
  • Water the whole thing without washing away the soil
  • As a precaution, tie up higher-growing varieties

Tip: These pretty summer flowers usually self-seed as well. Because of their sensitivity to frost, however, germination is anything but reliable in our latitudes.

Direct sowing in the tub

Of course, these colorful flowers can also be sown directly in tubs. The best time here is also between May and June. The pot or bucket in question should be equipped with drainage holes and good drainage so that excess water can drain away at any time. Normal, commercially available potting soil is suitable as a substrate. Sow the seeds as described above, water them and place the bucket in a place protected from heavy rain.

Tip: While zinnias in the bed usually do without fertilizer, specimens in planters must be fertilized weekly.

pricking zinnias

Sowing is followed by pricking out, depending on how densely or how many seeds per pot have been sown. Once the seedlings have reached a height of about four inches, it's time to separate them.

  • Zinnia roots very sensitive
  • So be very careful when pricking
  • First fill plastic pots with substrate
  • Then water with a fine stream from the watering can
  • Now select the strongest plants
  • Carefully lift out of the pot with a spatula
  • Then use the pricking wood to create the planting holes
  • Place plants individually and deep in the planting holes
  • This is how they get support and form lateral roots
  • Press the soil down lightly with your hands
  • Place in a bright place out of direct sunlight

After transplanting, the young plants are cultivated in pots until spring. During this time, the substrate should always be kept evenly moist but not wet. Water in saucers or planters must be removed regularly. From the middle/end of May you can finally plant them in the garden, in their final place.

Tip: Don't wait too long before pricking out, because the younger the seedlings are, the faster and more reliably they will grow. However, they should have three to four fully developed leaves.

Zinnia, Zinnia elegans

Pay attention to the right location

When the time has come to plant out, you should pay attention to a suitable location. The zinnia (Zinnia) is a true sun worshiper that doesn't mind even the blazing midday sun. In its natural habitat it thrives in stony steppe areas and semi-deserts. Consequently, sunny and warm, rather dry and wind-protected places in the garden are optimal.
The subsoil can be slightly loamy or sandy-loamy. In general, the zinnia needs a well-drained, rather lean and humus-poor subsoil. Of paramount importance is a moderately dry soil moisture content. Wetness would severely affect the plants and cause them to die. For the use of normal potting soil, for example when keeping a bucket permanently, this means that it should be made more permeable with sand, perlite, lava granules or fine gravel.

frequently asked Questions

What should you pay particular attention to when choosing a location?

When planting out, care should be taken to ensure a wind-protected but well-ventilated place. If the plants are too dense, they cannot be adequately ventilated. This makes them more susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

How susceptible are zinnias to pests?

Snails in particular, especially slugs, can be a big problem for zinnias. These attractive summer flowers are at the top of their menu. Aphids and spider mites can occur somewhat less frequently.

Is it possible to overwinter zinnias?

Even if they are not hardy in this country, there is the possibility, especially potted plants, to overwinter in a bright and cool place protected from frost. You should bring them into the house before the first frost, water them only a little and don't fertilize them. This effort is usually not worthwhile for specimens in the bed.

Are zinnias poisonous?

The zinnia is one of the slightly poisonous plants. They contain alkaloids and other substances that can cause allergies if they come into contact with the skin. To avoid this, sensitive people should wear gloves when handling this plant.

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