Zinnias are the top flower for the San Antonio summer garden. They prosper in the heat and full sun to produce colorful blooms from April 1 to Thanksgiving. Bloom colors include red, yellow, cream, orange, lavender, pink, gold, bicolor and even green. There are a number of different zinnia species on the market and a large selection of hybrids.
Although they are heat tolerant, zinnias are not xeriscape plants. They do best if they are irrigated twice a week all summer with drip irrigation. The other main cultural challenge is powdery mildew. A selling point for hybrids on the retail market is that they are more resistant to mildew than the old fashioned zinnias like California Giant.
The most common zinnia sold at area nurseries is the hybrid Dreamland. It grows to about 16 inches tall and has a tightly packed, mound-shaped 5-inch bloom with bright colors. Lilliput is a small zinnia (8 inches tall) that has a 2-inch bloom.
The old-fashioned varieties, California Giant and Cactus are grown easily from seed to reach 3 feet tall. Some of the dahlia flowered mixes are even taller. All are of the species, Zinnia elegens.
Zinnia angustifolia var. linearis is a sprawling, small-flowered zinnia available in yellow, gold and white that is drought tolerant and mildew resistant.
Profusion is a medium-size zinnia that produces more colors and larger blooms than linearis. The variety is a Z. elegens-Z. angustifolia cross which is less susceptible to mildew and more drought tolerant than the Z. elegens varieties.
Each year new colors of Profusion zinnias are available on the market. This year Peterson Brothers wholesale nursery reports that the new color is a red.
Zinnias are a favorite summer annual for a number of reasons beyond the showy blooms.
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