Think Ahead to Zinnia Season

It's as green as a cartoon frog. Wind is wet and cold. And it's going to change. Just a typical springtime in the Midwest. Or, more specifically, at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Other than the sound of the wind, it's been quiet. Even the two rival birds seem to have moved on. A wren and a sparrow have been engaged in a turf war over a bluebird nest box. Each time I look, there is either a wren or a house sparrow standing guard on the nearby fence, its posture peppered with as much threat as it can muster. Kind of hard when you tip the the tiniest scales at around an ounce.
It's possible they've moved off, or one has given up. We've been checking on the box, and there is the same half-built nest, consisting of a few twigs, since a month ago.

Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime'
Three tables full of plants anxiously await their release from indoors, while the other dozen--perennials--have been set free to go forth and be hardy, come what may.

I started a whole flat of Zinnias from seed and they've been doing quite well. They're all of one variety, Queen Lime 'Red Heart', another in the Queen Lime series after Queen Red Lime and Queen Lime. I grew 'Queen Red Lime' a few years ago, and loved them.

Zinnia 'Queen Red Lime' just starting to open.
Before growing QRL, the cactus types were my go-to Zinnias. But once I saw this variety, it's hard to be without it. If you think Zinnias are easy to start from seed, you'd be right. But I learned that you've got to treat seedlings with respect. It's hard this time of year to just set them out and be done with it. This "let them fend for themselves already" attitude is one I've adopted on several occasions. But I recently found that the best success comes when you set out seedlings that have really bulked up. I'm talking Kyle Schwarber strong--compact and sturdy.

To get them that way, I've been feeding and pinching, turning and lighting the seedlings to make sure they have what it takes to take up positions in my tiny but sunny cut flower field.

Based on a recommendation from a friend, I've been using the one-two combo of Dyna-Gro Grow 7-9-5 plant food and Superthrive. For each gallon of water I'm adding 1/4 tsp of Superthrive and 1 tsp of Dyna-Gro Grow formula for every watering.

I used two types of pots to grow the zinnias--coir pots made of coconut husks, and regular plastic pots of the same size. The reason for this is that I'd learned zinnias have a difficult time re-acclimating to in ground planting, and am hoping the coir pots will help to ease their transition. However, I think that since all of the zinnias are bulky and healthy with good root systems, they will have a leg up already.

The Zinnias have another couple of weeks to grow healthy roots; some already have flower buds, most of which I've pinched off. As soon as I get them out into the garden, I hope to start another batch--this time Raggedy Anne mix from Renee's Garden.

1 comment:

  1. I love zinnias but I am not a great seeder. When I see others with wonderful results like you and yours I want to try again. Best of luck planting them out.