Zinnia Zinnia elegans

One of the most lively and cheerful flowers you could have in your garden, zinnia!

Not to mention they’re one of the easiest blooms to grow! 

“A flower of strange beauty, growing in a desolate spot, and blossoming in the wind.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Meaning of Zinnia

While zinnia has many different meanings, it is usually associated with friendship, endurance, daily remembrance, goodness, and lasting affection.

The Victorian meaning of zinnia are thoughts of an absent friend or a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Zinnias are one tough bloom! So it’s fitting that their symbolism has evolved with them over time to represent endurance in many forms, including – spontaneous endurance, for from youth to old age, zinnias endure and continue to bloom.

Zinnias also symbolize a “joyous endurance.” They are happy to bloom in the steaming heat of summer and really any other trials it encounters, such as drought and bugs, yet they never fail to produce vibrant, beautiful blooms!

Zinnia Color Meanings

Yellow zinnias represent a daily remembrance. 

Red zinnias represent the stead beating of a heart, steadfastness, and family ties.

Magenta zinnias represent  lasting affection.

White zinnias represent pure unaltered goodness. [1]

The History of the Zinnia

Native to Mexico & Central America, zinnias were initially referred to as “plants that are hard on the eyes” by the Aztecs because of their bright, colorful flowers.

The zinnia is named after Johann Gottfried Zinn, a German botany professor who discovered them and brought them back to Europe back in the 1700s.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Zinn’s name was not only a reflection of the name “zinnia” but also of his work studying the eye – specifically the zonule of Zinn or Zinn’s membrane. [2]

The original plants have since expanded in many different shapes, colors, and sizes due to their popularity among breeders.

Today, we can buy zinnias plants ranging from 6 inches tall to almost 4 feet tall and in just about any color of the rainbow. [3]

As a Mexican native, the Spanish referred to zinnias as “mal de ojos,” which translates to “sickness of the eyes,” similar to the Aztec’s take on this vibrant bloom.

The Spanish thought of them as a small and generally unattractive flower.

Almost unbelievable, right!?

The late 19th century brought along wide use of zinnia in Germany, Holland, and Italy as breeders began selecting zinnias for their desirable characteristics. Different varieties such as Pumila Mixed, Mammoth, and Striata made their way to the states where they were widely planted.

Around 1920, a variety called Giant Dahlia was named by John Bodger of California’s Bodger Seeds Ltd., who discovered it as a natural mutation. Over the next few years, he selected a large flat-flowered variety from this strain called the California Giant, which was awarded a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society of England.

Today, zinnia breeders continue to engineer new flowers for modern gardens.

Recently, Zinnia angustifolia and Zinnia elegans were crossed to create the Profusion series. This combines the best of both types for a compact and colorful zinnia that is resistant to heat, humidity, and disease (and requires no dead-heading!). [2]

Keep reading

DID YOU KNOW?

Zinnia Fun Fact

Hummingbirds love zinnias, bringing their iridescent beauty to your garden while keeping the white fly population down. [1]

How to Grow Zinnias

Zinnias are one of the easiest garden flowers to grow (they’re perfect for beginners!).

If you’re looking to add some hassle-free color to your garden – zinnias are the bloom for you.

As an annual, zinnias will grow for one season and produce seeds, but the original plant will not come back in subsequent years. 

It’s recommended to grow zinnias from seeds right in the garden bed, as they do not like to be transplanted. From seed, they should grow very quickly as long as they are in the right conditions. 

Keep in Mind:

  • Zinnias are sensitive to frost
  • Zinnias will grow in a minimum daytime temperature of around 60 degrees through 84 degrees

Be sure to choose a planting site that gets full sun. This is essential for the life of your new zinnias! 

Look for a site that also has the following:

  • good air circulation to help prevent foliar diseases 
  • soil that is rich in organic matter and well-draining
  • soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5

Pro Tip: Amend your soil with compost to help your flowers grow quickly! [4]

Keep reading

DID YOU KNOW?

Zinnia Fun Fact

Butterflies flock to zinnias and light up your garden with their striking patterns. [1]

How to Care for Zinnias

In general, zinnias are super easy to care for.

Be sure to maintain your soil’s moisture levels and fertilize lightly to maximize growth and blooms.

After your zinnias flower, cut off the old flowers to encourage more growth.
Since they are annuals and will die with the first hard frost of fall, if you want them to reseed, let the last flowers of the season fully mature and then scatter their seeds. [4]

Keep reading

When to Send Zinnias as a Gift

Zinnias make the perfect gift for a friend you miss or maybe haven’t seen in a while, a going away gift, or simply someone you care deeply about! 

References:

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