Zinnias in Zone 5.

mary_maxApril 20, 2012

How do you folks do your zinnias in zone 5. Do you sow in milk jugs or direct sow them. And about what time do you start?

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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I am in Zone 5 Canada and I usually start my zinnias in late April, so I guess you can start yours about now. I sow mine in milk jugs (really antifreeze jugs) so I can control the moisture and sun, and preserve the seeds. Sometimes I want them to have more shade and I can control the growth rate. If you direct sow them you stand the chance of losing the seeds to the birds, or in a heavy rain they may become dislodged.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:28AM
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ok I will go ahead now and sow them in the milk jugs. How many seeds do you put in each jug? Thanks

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 8:00AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I grow a large patch of the tall zinnias every year, for the butterflies and other pollinators. Varieties like Cut & Come again, State Fair, California Giants. I avoid double blooms and grow singles and semi-doubles mostly, because the nectar tubes are more accessible for pollinators.

I direct sow them - it is much easier (way too many to sow in containers) and they actually bloom a week or two earlier when direct sown. Usually around June 1st, when it really warms up, although this spring it could be earlier.

I have sown some of the profusion zinnias in cups, but that was only a few clumps, and they did okay.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 9:32AM
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I direct sow my zinnias, which I plant for the butterflys. One year, the seeds did get washed out, or rather washed aside, because they all grew about 2 feet away from where I planted them!
I plant them in pots too.
The butterflies loved the Magellen zinnias, and the Lilliputs.
Good advice about avoiding double blooms, but the black swallowtails loved the red and yellow Magellens. They came no where near the Swizzle types.
I'm going to plant zinnias next week or as soon as the nightly temps hold at 50 and above.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:50AM
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beachgrub(4 northern michigan)

I am in zone 4 and WSed mine on 3-11 in milk jugs. They are about an inch tall now and i've had great germination. I put about 30 seeds per jug. I have been throwing a thin blanket over them at night when the temps dip into the freezing.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 11:58AM
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terrene - when do you direct sow your zinnias? You're near me. I ws'd them this year, but would much prefer to direct sow - now that I'm doing this growing from seed thingy. . .

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:48PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Usually around June 1st, Pixie. They are heat lovers and won't grow that well until it's warm. Perhaps they are similar to tomatoes that way. This spring I might try sowing them earlier and see what happens.

Oh, I also plant them in a new spot every year. Years ago I read you can minimize the powdery mildew if you rotate their patches. Wouldn't you know, the only time I've had mildew on the Zinnias has been the one time that I planted them in the same spot as the previous year.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 6:59PM
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I'd love to learn how to grow zinnias as well. When you direct sow them in the ground, do you cover them with soil?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 8:05PM
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terrene(5b MA)

When I direct sow, I use my finger to make little holes on average 4-5 inches apart, then plant the zinnia seed about 1/4 - 1/2 inch below the soil level and then smooth them over, tamp down a bit, and keep watered. They sprout quickly in warm weather and grow fast. Usually I sow them too thickly, but they're very easy to transplant around even when up to 6-12 inches tall.

SJC, I've heard other people say the Benary Giants which are all double blooms also attract many butterflies. The tall mix I grow does have some double blooms, and the butterflies nectar on those sometimes. They seem to prefer single blooms.

Here's a link below to a thread on the butterfly forum where you can see some butterflies on zinnias - I've posted 4 pics of my zinnias with butterflies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies on Zinnias

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 5:26PM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Hummingbirds like them too.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:51PM
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I spring sowed mine on the April 8th. So far they are doing fine. My battle is with snails, they keep eating the leaves. The Benary's Giant (yellow) has got a low germination compared to the others.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Thanks for sharing the pic of the hummingbird and zinnia. I love how nature works together! The butterfly and zinnia pics posted by terrene are beautiful too. Can't wait for the dreary weather to go. Can't wait to see the zinnias bloom!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 9:45PM
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I direct-sow all of mine now, and simply sprinkle a handful across an area, then lightly rake with my fingers, then pat. I don't take much care in planting them anymore, and I don't make sure they're perfectly spaced or covered. I just want to usually cover a row/edge, and if they're too thick, I might move them when they're small...or not. It's worked great.

I'm in NH, and put them in a couple weeks ago when we had that warm spell, but the weather turned after that, and I haven't seen them up yet. I'm ok with this; I certainly don't want them to come up then freeze away. I'll give them til mother's day to poke their heads up, and if they don't show by then, I'll replant, but I don't expect that I'll have to.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:51PM
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