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zen_man

It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 52

4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

Hello everyone,

Welcome to this ongoing series of message threads. The previous part of this continuing series, It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 51, has way exceeded 100 messages, which could make that thread slow to load, even though photos now appear as only inline large thumbnails, so we are continuing the series here for yet another fresh start. The same guidelines apply here. Anything remotely related to zinnias is fine. (Or plant breeding in general, or feral cats or precocious cats or locusts or pet snails or chupacabras or book comments or whatever.)

My South Garden is adjacent to our chicken house, and the chickens tend to treat that garden as their play yard. That includes dusting themselves in my planted zinnia rows, so to prevent that I laid some of my zinnia cages on their side in the seed rows. That has worked after a fashion.

As it happens, one of the "culprits" is in that picture.


I planted my North Garden first, so I have many harvest-able seed heads there.


As always, I look forward to your participation here if you are new to this series of message threads, or to your continued participation if you have been here before. Your comments, questions, and photos are welcome. More later.

ZM

Comments (109)

  • 4 years ago

    Whiteflies suck plant juices and, in turn, produce a sticky substance known as honeydew. Honeydew left on its own can cause fungal diseases (powdery mildew my question?) to form on leaves.

    I also have a problem with cutworns, I finally started pretreatment of beds (not organic) but was losing 20+% of everything seed-sewn or transplanted. (Seems like once plants survived 6 weeks, they had our on a thick enough main stem to hold off the cutworms. (Of course I'd read about collars, sticks on either side of stem, sneaking up on them in the night with a ball peen hammer, etc, ahem). Anyone know if my history of working aged goat manure into the beds is causing the problem?

    Long term I need a good compost solution. Right now my pile us mixed with horrible powdery mildew cuts, also covered with whitefly. Probably should make this my burn pile.

    Was hoping to generate lots of organic material for composting from my grow beds, but if they all are ultimately diseased, what can I compost?

  • 4 years ago

    Good morning all. Maybe another foot shot here. I've got my beds so full of light and airy organic "stuff", I can easily shove my hand in up to my elbow! But now my germination rates have gone south. I think the seeds must get lost in all that fluff. Anyone know if I'm supposed to firm the beds before planting? I'd read so many warnings like: "Don't walk on the beds, the soil will get compacted". Is it possible that the soil isn't compacted enough?

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    " I've got my beds so full of light and airy organic "stuff", I can easily shove my hand in up to my elbow! "

    That's much too fluffy. My favorite soil is a good sandy loam. Maybe because that is what we had on the farm where I grew up. That soil was largely Oklahoma Dust Bowl sand. It had some organic matter--probably not as much as would have been ideal. But it would pretty much grow anything.

    " But now my germination rates have gone south. I think the seeds must get lost in all that fluff. Anyone know if I'm supposed to firm the beds before planting? "

    Yes. Firm them. The soil should retain moisture. Pure sand can actually work quite well. This is a picture of my sand pile last year. It was originally a 20-ton load of washed river sand. Native sunflowers grow well in just the "pure" sand. Our local feral cats and bobcats added a small amount of "fertilizer". Who knows? Maybe some chupacabras helped.

    This is a view from the North side of the pile, where I was taking sand from the pile.

    This is a picture of that sand pile a couple of months ago.

    That pile is mostly gone today. I probably should order another truckload of sand. This is a photo taken earlier of zinnia seedlings in sandy soil.

    I sprinkle the seed beds daily until the seedlings emerge. Zinnias have a reputation for being easy to grow. More later.

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello Alex,

    " Now my own harvesting efforts may be in jeopardy, though, as soon after these pics were taken, it started to rain, and basically, has not dried up since! May find myself picking wet petals and spreading them out to dry on cookie sheets. "

    I assume the rain finally stopped for you. We could actually use a little rain here now. We are having some relatively hot Fall weather. I am thinking I may turn my lawn sprinkler on in my North Garden. This is a recent photo in my South Garden.

    Those little guys are pumping out the pollen. They are a bit ugly, but I like them any way. I have lots to do in both of my zinnia gardens.

    I am using the Microsoft Edge browser in this session rather than my usual Google Chrome or Firefox. I think that Microsoft is doing a decent job of supporting Edge, and I like to have options. More later.

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    cut off or pinch off the petals from the green petal seeds and the green floret green seeds have usually already lost the dead floret itself, like in this photo.

    I keep going back to this photo: is there a reason to search for petal vs floret seeds: 1. One is more likely to be polinated, 2. Different inherited traits 3. One is more likely than the other to produce green seeds, or 4.. ???


    J,LM,V

    PS looking forward to future Microsoft Edge reports....


  • 4 years ago

    Incredibly helpful Senor Z. Thank you. The sand surprises me, always thought it as the bane of Floridians for causing everything to dry out. And then you say you only water daily till germination. Hmmm, go figure.
    Ok trial and error time here. Sure have plenty of "construction grade" sand available here, not sure about the "washed" part.
    And luckily last week I found a "reputable" lab here in Mexico where I'll send off some soil for a structure analysis. Cornell has a great reputation, but just as seeds coming my way from y'all get nabbed often as not, the USA is (quite rightfully) suspicious of dirt I send your way. Eager to see the analysis!
    I just stumbled across this, and although I don't quite by the round ball idea, I do believe they've nailed my germination problem:

    Try to bounce a basketball in your field. It should be easy to bounce on a firm seedbed; if you can't bounce it easily, don't plant yet. Firm the seedbed with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate it.

    Why so much effort for a seedbed? When small seeds germinate, their first roots must come into immediate contact with moisture and nutrients in the soil if those seedlings are to survive and grow rapidly. Loose seedbeds can have up to 50% dead airspace in the seeding zone. First roots that emerge into that dead airspace often do not live, and your stand will suffer. A firm seedbed reduces this dead airspace, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.

    I planted a row of "unbreached" seeds today, thanks again ZM, I'll worry about breaching another day.

    Hopefully I'll get to town to send this soon, John, Veracruz.

  • 4 years ago

    ZM: I actually really like your pink Z's. Always been partial to pink, probably stemming from raising a princess. John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago

    Trying to understand heredity issues. For example, say I plant a bed of 100 Giant Pink Dahlia shaped Zinnias. The flowers range from 3 to 5 inches. Some are doubles. Now say I select one, a 5 inch, deep pink double, and assume I successfully self pollinate it. What are the odds that the offspring will:

    1. Be a zinnia

    2. Be pink

    3. Be 5 inches

    4. Be a double

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    You have brought up several subjects that I will address tomorrow, since it is close to my bedtime now. But I will respond to this:

    " Trying to understand heredity issues. For example, say I plant a bed of 100 Giant Pink Dahlia shaped Zinnias. The flowers range from 3 to 5 inches. Some are doubles. Now say I select one, a 5 inch, deep pink double, and assume I successfully self pollinate it. What are the odds that the offspring will: "

    If your Giant Pink Dahlia shaped zinnia is a commercial strain, like a Benary's Giant or a Dahlia flowered pink, then the odds of all 4 of your points are either 100% (Be a zinnia) or close to 100%. But your stated purpose of "Trying to understand heredity issues" is the equivalent to at least a college level course in Genetics, or possibly even a 4-year degree in Botanic Genetics. Zinnia Genetics is actually very interesting and many-splendored and after many years of working with zinnias, I still learn something new nearly daily. I frequently say that "zinnias are full of surprises" and that is mostly the workings of zinnia genetics. It is very appropriate that you try to understand the zinnia heredity issues, and I should do that too. More later. I am trying to visualize what prehistoric zinnias looked like.

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Yes. Firm them (beds before planting).

    Any recommendations how? Rent some kind of roller? Lay boards down and walk on them? Let the dogs out? (Who, who?)

    John. Veracruz.

  • 4 years ago

    odds of all 4 of your points are either 100% (Be a zinnia) or close to 100%

    That's REALLY COOL.

    Thanks Z.

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago

    Good morning all. Curious- I just read in a blog called "Kokoro": Benary Giants, the Queen series and the Zinderella series - I start early to ensure they get a little bit of cooler weather when first growing, as it helps them achieve the lovely double flowering forms at a higher rate.

    Anyone know if this is true for zinnias in general?

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    " ...Benary Giants, the Queen series and the Zinderella series - I start early to ensure they get a little bit of cooler weather when first growing, as it helps them achieve the lovely double flowering forms at a higher rate.

    Anyone know if this is true for zinnias in general? "

    I haven't noticed that, although the wording "it helps them" and "at a higher rate" indicates that the effect is somewhat marginal, and something that you might not even notice. My indoor zinnia project causes me to have some indoor started zinnias available for setting out anyway. The "iffy" nature of that blog post doesn't seem adequate justification to me to go to the extra effort of starting zinnias early, but on the other hand, I can't say for sure that it is wrong, either. There are obvious undeniable advantages to starting zinnias early, such as you get blooms sooner that way.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello again, John,

    Going back to an earlier post.

    " I keep going back to this photo: is there a reason to search for petal vs floret seeds: 1. One is more likely to be pollinated, 2. Different inherited traits 3. One is more likely than the other to produce green seeds, or 4.. ??? "

    Floret seeds are always selfed. Unless you have been actively pollinating a zinnia bloom, the petal seeds are mostly pollinated by pollen that fell from florets onto stigmas in that bloom, so they are also selfed. It is possible that bees might have accidentally cross pollinated some of the stigmas, but frequently bees just knock some of the pollen from the florets in that bloom down onto the stigmas in that bloom, so those would also be selfed.

    If you have been actively cross pollinating that head, then only use the petal seeds, because they are the ones that you have cross pollinated.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello yet again, John,

    Going back to a different earlier post:

    " Yes. Firm them (beds before planting).

    Any recommendations how? Rent some kind of roller? Lay boards down and walk on them? Let the dogs out? (Who, who?) "

    I really don't have any idea what your " light and airy" seedbed soil is like. This quoted advice might be applicable.

    " Try to bounce a basketball in your field. It should be easy to bounce on a firm seedbed; if you can't bounce it easily, don't plant yet. Firm the seedbed with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate it. "

    I just rake my sandy loam seedbeds with an ordinary garden rake to loosen and flatten the bed. That might be equivalent to the "flat harrow" in the quote. I spend only a few minutes preparing a seedbed. As they say, if it's not broke, don't fix it. If soil can grow weeds, it can grow zinnias. I do foliar feed my zinnias from time to time. I include some Physan 20 in the foliar feed to act as a wetting agent, and prevent some diseases.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello everyone,

    Butterflies have become less numerous in my zinnia patches, but Skippers are still abundant, like this little guy.

    That species seems to be the largest and most numerous here, and according to my Butterflies in the Kansas City Region book, it is a Silver Spotted Skipper.

    As they say, "time flies when you are having fun", and that seems to apply to my outdoor zinnias. Our daytime temperatures have been running 8 to 12 degrees warmer than average, but that will probably come to an end in the next few days. We usually have a first killing frost some time in October. The last few years, that has been very late in October, near Halloween.

    But it is a sobering thought for me that I have only weeks, not months, left of outdoor gardening this season. I am thankful that I have an indoor Winter gardening project to look forward to. I find it very satisfying to be cross pollinating zinnias while there is snow on the ground outside. More later.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Your butterfly book is a great reference. I'll see if I can't find something similar for my region. I've got lots of species I've never seen before. One incredibly electric neon blue.... Never seem to have a camera with me when working in the garden. Great pics ZM, thanks for sharing.


    John

    Veraruz


  • 4 years ago

    Hi folks. Been fighting a cold. Here's my latest effort at green seed harvesting. I used a nail trimmer to clip the ends of these, hoping they are sufficiently breached. Will plant today.

    John

    Veracruz


  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hi John,

    Your "green seeds" look kind of black. Are they, actually?

    It's risky to snip the seed tip, because that is where the embryo's root tip is located. The root tip is the root's growing point. If you are going to use a nail clipper to clip the seed ends, it would be safer to snip off the petal end. That way, if you get too close to the embryo and nip it, you will just be nipping off the ends of the seed leaves.

    However, if the embryo is able to put out lateral roots if its root tip is nipped, then all would be OK. I have never nipped the root tip, accidentally or as an experiment, so I am actually unsure what the consequences of doing that would be.

    Hope your cold gets better.

    ZM.

  • 4 years ago

    Good morning ZM. Yes they are pretty dark indeed. Interesting, the petals were still colorful: the darkest seeds came from the bottom petals. Is that a bad thing?

    Thanks on clipping advice: I'm going to plant 40 of these today, later I'll try and clip 40 from the petal end and compare results.

    The cold is much improved thank you, enjoy your weather, guess you'll not have it for long.

    John

    Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    I'm glad your cold is much improved.

    " Interesting, the petals were still colorful: the darkest seeds came from the bottom petals. Is that a bad thing? "

    Maybe. I have never seen green zinnia seeds that were "black" before. I am wondering if that blackness is some kind of seed borne disease. Do you have anything to treat them with? Like maybe 3% hydrogen peroxide or possibly Physan 20. Alex's picture of green seeds is what green zinnia seeds are supposed to look like.

    This is a picture of one of my current breeder zinnias.

    It is showing some early signs of disease. I expect that this late in our season. More later.

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    I think I used the last of the peroxide on my hair. Physan I'm still researching.. believe I have an article about zinnias not liking Physan.. will dig up and forward.

    Meanwhile the dark seeds are all planted, will see what happens.

    Is that gorgeous Zinnia you posted a whirli cross? (Sorry if that's proprietary).

    I sat and watched another 3+ inches of rain pummel my gardens this afternoon ... daily occurrence.... Glad I still have 5 beds under cover so I can compare results.

    John

    Wet low mountains

    Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    " I think I used the last of the peroxide on my hair. "

    Then it is time to get some more. Do you have a Walmart down your way? 3% Peroxide is an inexpensive drugstore item.

    " Physan I'm still researching.. believe I have an article about zinnias not liking Physan.. will dig up and forward. "

    I would like to see that.

    " Is that gorgeous Zinnia you posted a whirli cross? (Sorry if that's proprietary). "

    My list of stuff that is proprietary is itself proprietary, and in fact, this statement about that list is also proprietary. Just to be the safe side, this whole paragraph is marked PROPRIETARY.

    Seriously, the majority of my breeder zinnias have at least some Whirligig "blood" in them, although it can be several generations removed for many of them.. And since Whirligigs have ancestry from two different zinnia species (Z. elegans and Z. haageana) my zinnias benefit from interspecies variation, and can be referred to as Z. hybrida. If you want to shake things up in your zinnias, include some Whirligigs in your cross pollinations.

    " Glad I still have 5 beds under cover so I can compare results. "

    That could be a good thing.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Mea culpa, in the back of my foggy memory I tripped across something unfiled, because it was unimportantly part of a preservative conversation. I only recalled the warning re Zinnias in Univ Massachusetts article: but it was about SUGARS. not BIOCIDES: flowers, such as Zinnias and Coralbells, sustain damage when treated with concentrations of sugars higher than 1%.

    I found the source if interested: https://ag.umass.edu/greenhouse-floriculture/fact-sheets/sugar-acidity-in-preservative-solutions-for-field-grown-cut

    Apologies to Physan!

  • 4 years ago

    Curious. I've got some lovely Zinnias that are a little long in the tooth, but are healthy, and beautiful. Since I still have a lot of growing season left (at least 12 years per AOC), does anyone know if I can just whack a zinnia off at the knees, and keep it productive? Or do zinnias like old folks just at some point say: "that's all folks"?

    Thanks for thoughts

    John, low mountains, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    " Since I still have a lot of growing season left (at least 12 years per AOC), does anyone know if I can just whack a zinnia off at the knees, and keep it productive? Or do zinnias like old folks just at some point say: "that's all folks"? "

    That is actually a very good question, and by that, I mean one that I do not have the answer for. I lot of people believe that zinnias, as annuals, have a built-in genetic clock that will "program" them to die after a "year". I would not see that in my outdoor zinnias because a lot of things conspire to kill zinnias here in the late Fall before any genetic programmed death could become obvious. Like a killing freeze and snow drifts.

    I have not seen any indication of programmed death in my indoor zinnias, but my indoor "season" is about the same length as my outdoor season, so I wouldn't necessarily see a programmed death phenomenon in indoors unless I decided to continue my indoor project year round, and there is no good reason for me to do that.

    So, despite the fact that a lot of people believe in built-in "annual-ness", a lot of people could be wrong, so I say go ahead and cut your zinnias back to continue their growth period, and see what happens. You might want to put a little more thought to the process than " just whack a zinnia off at the knees."

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Haha: might want to put a little more thought to the process than " just whack a zinnia off at the knees."

    Thanks ZM. I'll trim some today, hit em with milk (thinking anything to help with my known powdery mildew issues, as a preventative- this is one of the few batches which hasn't been hit hard by mildew, one of the reasons I want to see if I can keep them going and start propagating). I guess just clip above a major joint, as if I was going to cut a flower?

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hi John,

    We just had a heavy shower. We also had a rainstorm last night, so things are a bit wet out there right now.

    " I guess just clip above a major joint, as if I was going to cut a flower? "

    Yes, preserve the joints because they contain potential growing points.

    Incidentally, that article you referred to that warned that sugars in concentrations above 1% could damage flowers such as Zinnias was referring to the vase water of cut flowers in vases, and not to the foliar feeding of living plants that I do. I usually dilute my foliar feed ingredients to about one tablespoon per gallon, but I apply that rule to sugar and soluble nutrients independently, meaning that I will add one tablespoon of soluble nutrients (usually MiracleGro Tomato Food) to a gallon of water and add one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of Physan 20 to that same gallon. I very rarely bring zinnia blooms indoors as cut flowers in a vase.

    ZM (not associated with any product mentioned)

  • 4 years ago

    ZM. Just gave birth. Happy birthday baby zinnia. ...... The "black" green seeds, (mistakenly) clipped at tip? 48 hours in, started germinating... 3 up, may go out with lantern at midnight to recount. Incredible!!! Major major day on the ranch. Proof positive. I can do it. Thanks ZM. Thanks Alex.

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago

    If anyone wants to weigh in on my germination practice, I'd love comments. Last year I grew tomatoes and put up a small hoop house. This year I've been using it mostly for germination: 1. I've eliminated the cost of heat mats, electricity, and artificial lighting 2. I've reduced the burden of "hardening off" and 3. although I don't get the prescribed 16 hours sun/8 hours dark, I figure mother nature might know a thing or two about what seedlings need lightwise. The sun here is intense, so I've tempered it by adding 50% shade cloth over the seedlings. I've got a thermometer in the hoop house, and I notice that days peak around 80 and the nights cool considerably and I'm not maintaining ideal 70°F temps. I'll keep an eye on this, hoping I can avoid the expense of indoor germination, I rather spend the money on plastic domes: I've been covering the seed trays with sheets of plastic to maintain moisture... I bet I'd improve germination rates with domes.

    John, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    " I bet I'd improve germination rates with domes. "

    I agree. I routinely use domes for my indoor zinnia germination. I do my germination in individual 3-inch square pots.

    I cover a tray of pots with a clear humidity dome, approximately 3 inches high. The domes are available in various heights, but since I remove a pot from under the dome as soon as it has germinated seedlings, I don't need tall domes for seedling germination. I do use tall humidity domes for trays of cuttings.

    I use PermaNest trays to hold the pots and allow for bottom irrigation.

    ZM (not associated with any product mentioned)

  • 4 years ago

    ZM: Thank you, looks like a perfect setup, and obviously you've had great success. I need to find domes... They are so large that international shipping is often a multiple of the dome cost.

    My green seeds are going to town: slower than purchased seeds- now on day 5 half are up. I'm getting a couple new ones up every day- these are the "black" ones that I mistakenly trimmed the heads off of instead of the caboose end.

    Yesterday I did gather about 250 green colored chubbies, nicked the caboose end, and tray planted for germination in my protected hoophouse. Current temps night lows 61°, day highs 80°.

    These are not crosses..just me experimenting with harvesting and germinating.

    John, Veracruz

    (Affiliated with everything and anything I make a buck off of)

  • 4 years ago

    One mature zinnia plant bearing one flower on a top branch and one flower on next lower branch : top flower strong orange, next flower pale pink. I had no hand in the phenomenon. Is it something that zinnias are known to do?

  • 4 years ago

    Hmmm. Curious. Just this morning I was staring at my patch of cactus zinnias, wondering how one plant had different colored flowers....

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello four,

    " ...top flower strong orange, next flower pale pink. I had no hand in the phenomenon. Is it something that zinnias are known to do? "

    That is something that zinnias are known to do. In roses, the phenomenon is called a "bud sport". In zinnias a side branch can be genetically different from the rest of the plant. It does not happen frequently, but it does happen. I took this photo several years ago,.

    So far I have not seen a zinnia "bud sport" that is "breeder quality", but if I see one that I like, I will save seeds from it.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Thanks.

    I think of a sport as something that emerges from lower than the top, and would have no peers such as the two or three peer branches that emerge from same point (not always concurrently). If my concept of a sport is accurate, and if only a sport branch ever would be genetically different ( I know that there is no "only" in what you wrote), then peer branches necessarily will be genetically same. That's where my thinking about it led me.


  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello four,

    " I think of a sport as something that emerges from lower than the top... "

    All of the changed forms I have seen in zinnias have been a single lateral branch, and lateral branches are lower than the top. If the mutation occurred in the main meristem, then it would be different from all of the lateral branches below it, which would be evidence that the mutation occurred in the main meristem. I have never seen a mutation in the main stem of a zinnia, but that is not evidence whether such a thing can or cannot occur.

    " If my concept of a sport is accurate, "

    This link is to the Wikipedia article on Sport (botany)

    I am not sure what this photo is evidence of.

    That zinnia included Whirligigs in its ancestry. If you look closely, you can see that the lower yellow petals had magenta at their base and scarlet in the transition zone. The upper petals appear to be pure scarlet (magenta and yellow combined).

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    "All of the changed forms I have seen in zinnias have been a single lateral branch"

    Good enough for me. And confirms my formerly tentative understanding of your previous reply.


  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hi John,

    Just out of curiosity, are you anywhere near that Popocatepeti volcano that just started erupting?

    Our summer-like weather turned into winter-like weather over night. I did some preparatory work in my basement indoor gardening area today. I may plant a few indoor zinnias tomorrow.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    Good morning ZM. I guess fall made it there, but sounds like you're experienced rolling the operation indoors. I'm curious, since zinnias have such a fast bloom time, are you set up to grow indoors until plants flower?

    I'm four hours east of the volcano. No history of volcanoes here (or snow, sleet, tornadoes, hurricanes or any inclement weather other than rain). At least as far back as records go... but this is a very small town, and history really isn't documented more than a few HUNDRED years back.

    We are changing seasons here too. Dropped to 59 last night.

    The dry season is here and I think that will be helpful. But from what I read, I'm really going to be pushing the envelope growing zinnias in the 55-65 degree days I've got coming up. Seems most say you need a minimum daily temp of 60.

    I've got 14 varieties germinating, and now that I'm getting comfortable "green seeding", I'm eager to gain experience growing, and then crossing. I can already see how the cooler temps have dialed back the time for germination.

    Hoping I'm not barking up the wrong tree wanting to grow zinnias here...I've got the wet/humidity issues in summer, and cooler temps in the dry winter season. I know one thing...all the flower markets/florest stores etc I've visited...never seen a zinnia here...Hmmm they trying to tell me something???

    John

    Low Mountains, Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello John,

    I am glad you are not under any immediate threat from the volcano.

    " I'm curious, since zinnias have such a fast bloom time, are you set up to grow indoors until plants flower? "

    I am set up to grow zinnias, indoors in my basement, not just until they flower, but through a complete life cycle, from seed to seed. I usually get two generations indoors, in the Fall, Winter, and early Spring. This is just a hobby for me, but a "serious" hobby.

    I can get some second generation zinnias outdoors, for a total of as many as four generations in a year. I will be planting some breeder zinnias indoors today. I will be emphasizing new breeder forms, like the narrow tubular petal forms. You can click on all these photos for closer views.

    There are some derivative forms from the narrow tubular form that I will be growing.

    A detailed view:

    By making more hybrids between hybrids between hybrids, I might find some new forms this Winter.

    " We are changing seasons here too. Dropped to 59 last night. "

    I think that is very nearly exactly what we had last night. Zinnias do not like cool weather, and that is why I am starting my indoor zinnia project a few weeks early. More later. I need to wash some pots.

    Namaste.

    ZM

  • 4 years ago

    ZM. Sounds like you've certainly mastered your climate. And the photos are pretty convincing evidence. Stunning, really. Congrats.

    I usually get two generations indoors.

    Curious, if you're harvesting green seeds in what, 10 weeks, 12 weeks? Do things grow slower indoors?

    I'm not yet buying I can't grow year round here. In the morning I will construct an indoor germination facility, temped at 70°. But I think (HOPE), that with only occasional night dips into high 50s, if I transplant into black plastic, I can maintain a SOIL temp averaging lows above 65. I'm as worried about the effect of reduced sun levels.

    But like so very many things, proof's in the pudding. Gonna give it a shot.

    John, low mountains,

    Veracruz

  • 4 years ago

    Newbie zinnia enthusiast here, relocated from the mid-Atlantic US to Australia (Brisbane area, subtropical). I planted some of the basic Home Depot zinnia seed varieties (Giant flowered mix, State Fair, Cactus, Oklahoma, and I think Pinwheel) here, thinking they'd do really well in full sun, but never got them to germinate more than a few millimeters before they'd just stop. I was watering them frequently, but for once I think it was too much sun for them as the soil would dry up within an hour of watering them.


    I changed tactics and put some out back in a location with a little less sun to some success - slowly but surely coming up, have a couple flowering right now. The soil we have is not ideal ("podzolic") so I dug it out and added compost and garden soil to help encourage them along. Unfortunately there's not a lot of in-ground space back there so may end up planting in pots, which I've never done before. Any advice there?

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello roxy,

    " The soil we have is not ideal ("podzolic") so I dug it out and added compost and garden soil to help encourage them along. "

    I was unfamiliar with "podzolic" soil, so referred to the Wikipedia article on Podzol soil

    A common misconception in Australia is that your plants don't need phosphorous and apparently your soils are deficient in phosphorous. The fact is that plants do need phosphorous, as well as many other things.

    Zinnias are easy to grow. They come up in only a few days and develop rapidly to produce first blooms in about 6 weeks.

    " Unfortunately there's not a lot of in-ground space back there so may end up planting in pots, which I've never done before. Any advice there? "

    Fill your containers with quality potting mix. Hopefully you have MiracleGro products available "down under". Their potting mix is a known thing and zinnias do well using MiracleGro Tomato food soluble nutrients. Hopefully your water supply is not harmful to plants. I apply a foliar feed using one tablespoon (or less--it is better to use too little than too much) of soluble MiracleGro Tomato Food per gallon of water. I use the Tomato Food formula because it has more Magnesium, which is a component of chlorophyll.

    I anticipate that we will continue this discussion, because there are quite a few issues with gardening in Australia. It's Fall here, so it is Spring for you. And your water swirls down the drain the wrong way (grin).

    ZM (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

  • 4 years ago

    Mine grow much more reliably in pots. Zinnias in pots want frequent thorough watering.

  • 4 years ago

    Hello and welcome, I'm a newb myself, so have little to offer. But a couple points:

    I think it was too much sun

    Fairly certain that is the LAST thing you want to explore... I don't believe it is even possible.

    My vote is explore soil and fertilizer, as ZM points out. What are your "neighbors" growing? Is there a lab handy for a soil test?

    water swirls down the drain the wrong way

    Ahah! ZM. A popular misconception taught years ago. Scientific American: "For any normal bathtub you are likely to encounter in the home, however, the answer is no."

    Stigmatized theorem: "South of the equator, wives hang toilet paper rolls backward". Now that is a documentable fact.

    Welcome again Roxy.

    John, Low Mountains,

    Veracruz

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello roxy,

    " I planted some of the basic Home Depot zinnia seed varieties (Giant flowered mix, State Fair, Cactus, Oklahoma, and I think Pinwheel) "

    If you want to grow a greater variety of zinnias than are available locally, there are some seed companies that will sell seeds to the international market. For example, Swallowtail Seeds have a good assortment of zinnia seeds.

    Swallowtail Seeds will do the paperwork necessary to ship to Australia, as well as many other countries. After you solve the problems of growing zinnias on your property, using the zinnia seeds that you have, Swallowtail is an opportunity for you to branch out and grow some zinnias that might not be available from your local seed sellers. I consider the Whirligig strain to be the secret to a lot of my success with home hybridized zinnias. Whirligigs are one of the zinnia strains that have inter-species genetic ancestry.

    ZM (not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

  • 4 years ago

    Hi all. Got a germination room set up last night. More as a precaution, since this is my first year attempting this and am unsure of what to expect weather wise. I left equal number of trays in the unheated hoophouse, and the indoor germination room. (Approx 200 seeds each). Looks like I can maintain about 76° indoors. Will report back. Outdoors this week temps fluctuated high 50s to high 70s.

    John, Veracruz


  • 4 years ago



  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hello everyone,

    Since we have exceeded 100 messages in this message thread, I have started a new one in It can be fun to breed your own zinnias - Part 53

    I look forward to seeing you all over there.

    ZM

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