Sunday 11 January 2015

Growing Zinnia on the Big Allotment Challenge (Ep. 1)

Zinnia garden in August - masses of blooms (shown at the front is Zinnia Sprite, Zinnia Giant Dahlia mix)
While working on the Big Allotment Challenge last year, the gardeners were tasked with growing Zinnia for the Week 1 Floral challenge.

Here are some of the varieties I grew:
  • Zinnia elegans Purple Prince (Sarah Raven plug plants) 
  • Zinnia elegans “Sprite mix” (Sarah Raven plug plants) 
  • Zinnia elegans “Giant Dahlia Mix” (Sarah Raven plug plants)
  • Zinnia elegans “Envy” (Sarah Raven seeds)
  • Zinnia Dahlia Flowered (Kings seeds)

Growing Zinnia

Zinnias are best sowed directly into the soil, as they don’t like being transplanted.

Floral expert, Johnathan Mosely, suggests sprinkling horticultural grit or sharp sand around the seedlings as they emerge, to keep the slugs and snails away. 

Then, feed weekly with a seaweed fertiliser or tomato feed.

Zinnias can also be prone to getting a disease called botrytis. To prevent this, you can spray your plants with an organic fungicide such as Bordeaux Mixture.

Of all the zinnias I grew, the Purple Prince was my favourite, just look at it – it is stunning! With long stems and large blooms, this is the perfect cut flower.

Zinnia "Purple Prince" 

The Zinnia Sprite mix produced an abundance of mini flowers that were an absolute delight. From each plant, there were masses of orange, hot pink, pink and bright yellow blooms.

Behind the scenes
Due to an editorial decision, contestant gardeners were informed late April that the specimen flower for Episode 1 was to be Zinnia, leaving us a frantic 11 weeks to choose varieties, buy then sow or grow the perfect zinnias

After contacting several garden centres and nurseries requesting Zinnia plug plants, all said that it was too early in the year and that they wouldn’t be available for sale until June (which was too late as our show day was mid July)

In the end, I ordered my Zinnia Purple Prince, Sprite mix and Giant Dahlia Mix online from Sarah Raven and thankfully, they arrived in time. Others faced similar challenges.

Zinnia Purple Prince in the garden - semi-double and full double blooms

Lessons Learnt

This was my Zinnia garden mid July, and one day before Show day.

When it comes the show bench, it isn't just about growing the best blooms, you also need to make the right choices!

When I was selecting three of my best Zinnia blooms for the specimen jar, I was focused on “uniformity” and did not realise that the Purple Prince semi-double and full double blooms could be displayed together. Since they looked slightly different, I thought that I would be marked down, so instead, I chose three stems of Giant Dahlia mix, which were much less impressive.

During the judging, Jonathan pointed out three Purple Prince Zinnia blooms in my floral basket that were markedly better than the ones that I had chosen as my “specimens”. Good advice and lesson learnt!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...