Z may be the last letter of the alphabet, but zinnias definitely shouldn’t be last on your list of must-haves for your flower garden.

Zinnias are bright, colorful flowers that begin blooming in late spring and last until the first hard frost hits in the fall. There are 20 species of zinnias but only 10 of those are favored by flower gardeners.

Zinnias come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The traditional zinnia is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and sits atop multi-stemmed plants that grow up to 36 inches tall. Miniature zinnias are 2 to 3 inches in diameter-their foliage reaching 12 to 24 inches tall. And finally, the Lilliput zinnias; 1 to 2 inch flowers on stems that grow 6 to 12 inches tall.

Zinnias are known for their vibrant colors; pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, purples and even white and green. The flowers can have either a multi-layered flat petal or a compacted short-petal that resembles a sponge.

HOW TO GROW & CARE FOR ZINNIAS

Zinnias are started from seed. They are technically annuals but reseed themselves; making it possible for you to have zinnias each year with little effort on your part. The seeds come from the center of the blooms.

Zinnias are tolerant of most types of soil as long as it drains well. They like the sunshine but will also thrive in the shade. In other words, these beauties are easy to please and easy to keep. They do need water, though-two to three times a week in hot, dry climates.

To optimize your zinnia’s flowering capabilities, be sure to dead head the blooms as soon as they begin to fade and dry. If dried properly, you can dry zinnias to use in dried flower arrangements and to press for use in craft projects.

Zinnias…you’ve got to love them!

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