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New This Week

June 13, 2023

Plant of the Week: Zinnias

Bursting with color and exuding a cheerful charm, Zinnias are a popular choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners.

With their stunning array of blooms in shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and more, these annual flowers bring a delightful touch of summer to any garden and also make for beautiful cut flowers. From compact varieties perfect for containers to towering cultivars for eye-catching borders, there's a Zinnia for every space!

Zinnias are truly one of the most colorful, long-blooming annuals you can add to your garden.  They come in endless colors, patterns and shapes.  Zinnias thrive in full sun, with adequate air flow (super damp summers can cause some mildew issues).  Make sure to wait to sow or plant until the soil warms up, as they need heat.  Profuse bloomers, often a healthy plant will bloom from late spring up until frost if deadheaded and fertilized occasionally.  To be sure you have zinnias in full bloom the whole season, you can sow or plant a second batch mid-summer to extend and improve the bloom period.  

As part of the Asteraceae family of composite flowers (which includes sunflowers, coneflowers, daisies and more), Zinnias are beloved by bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.  While they are not native plants, these annuals provide additional nectar to pollinators looking for food, especially in later months or periods between various native blooms.  We highly recommend mixing them in with your milkweed, salvia, asters, goldenrod, joe pye, agastache, verbena and other pollinator supporting plants!  The most beloved by pollinators are the single-flowering, and especially the taller cultivars such as Benary's Giants.  We currently are sold out of the giants, but do have several beautiful colors of disease resistant, single-blooming zinnias available. 

Bees cannot see red, but will still be attracted to red or orange zinnias, likely because they are attracted to the ultraviolet markings on the petals.  Many flowers have UV pigments on their petals that are invisible to the human eye, but that seem to be designed to attract pollinators - highlighting where the nectar (and pollen) can be found.  

Try this at home!  You can find an ultraviolet flashlight for $20, and have hours of fun in the dark getting a glimpse at what the world looks like to many pollinators and other creatures that see this spectrum!  The Owens recently did this, but unfortunately only had a cellphone to document this zinnia glowing with UV at the center.

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