Southern Gardening: Profusion zinnias give strong color all summer

 

Profusion zinnias come in both single- and double-flower forms. This is a golden double zinnia.

Profusion zinnias come in both single- and double-flower forms. This is a golden double zinnia. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service

 

Gary Bachman

 

 

I'm becoming increasingly optimistic about our 2020 Mississippi summer gardens and landscapes. COVID-19 is on everyone's mind, but an upside to the virus is that more homeowners are gardening than ever before.

 

If you're looking for summer color that will grow through the summer and beyond, then Profusion zinnia is the plant for you.

 

Profusion zinnias are always a great choice for annual summer color. These plants perform well in both cool and warm weather, and they have better tolerance to powdery mildew, which can plague the older Zinnia elegans. These zinnias bloom starting in spring and continuing into the fall; that long bloom period is certainly good news for our Mississippi landscapes.

 

 

Profusion zinnias are available in many colors and typically grow up to 12 inches tall and wide.

 

Here are some of my favorite Profusion zinnia selections.

 

Cherry has single, cherry-rose-colored flowers held above dark-green foliage. It was named an All-America Selections winner in 1999. Coral Pink is a bushy plant that will be covered all summer with 2-inch flowers that have bright coral-pink petals with hints of orange and salmon.

 

Double Golden has rich, golden-orange flower petals that seem to erupt all summer long. White has 2.5-inch, single, white flowers. I can imagine this zinnia massed in flower beds looking like a blanket of snow in July. It was an all-America Selections winner in 2001.

 

Profusion zinnias are compact with good, strong branching to support the numerous flowers that completely cover the plants. And the best part is that Profusion zinnias don't have to be deadheaded.

 

Each flower is about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, and the plants are available as both single- and double-flower forms. For the best flowering performance, always plant with at least 6 hours of full sun each day.

 

Amending your landscape beds with 3 to 4 inches of good-quality compost at the spring planting will go a long way toward having adequate fertility in the fall. I always add some controlled-released fertilizer at transplanting.

 

During the spring in Mississippi, planting Profusion zinnia in raised beds results in superior plant growth and flowering by increasing the soil drainage. These plants also are superstars when grown using my favorite method, containers. Always be sure to use container potting mix for superior drainage; never use regular soil in containers.

 

Profusion zinnias tolerate droughty conditions, though once the summer temperatures arrive, the plants greatly appreciate supplemental irrigation and reward you with continuous flowering.

 

As we start moving into the summer season, don't neglect the feeding needs of your Profusion zinnias. Using water-soluble fertilizer is an easy way to keep the plants fed this summer through the fall.

 

Local garden centers still have a great selection of summer color, so take advantage of the availability of Profusion zinnia and put some color in your landscape.

 

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]

 

 

 

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