Rain! A Respite From The Searing Heat

By: Jannie Vaught

For this Gardner, it is a big Thank You!

The heat did cause some heat issues and with consistent and deep watering most of the garden is still in production, although slowed down or gone off the rails with ripening. I got plums galore and my later ripening peaches have slowed a bit. The blackberries for me are recovering from a full-on assault of dried on the vine crunchy bits. Hopefully, they will plump up.

The surprise in my garden this year has been the Zinnias. They wilted down in the afternoon and even had some loss, but they rebounded and are still blooming. My new favorite flower Zinnia, it is a genus of plants and of the sunflower tribe, within the daisy family. Native to scrub and dry grassland from the Southwest United States to South America, with a center of diversity in Mexico. Now we know why they grow good here in central Texas. Members of this tribe are known for solitary long-stemmed flowers they come in a variety of bright colors. With single layers of petals to full heads. The seeds are at the tips of the petals and are arrowhead shaped. I tell people the petals are the seeds so save the flowering heads, let them dry and plant the petals next year. You can select to keep the colors separate if you are looking to place lines of specific colors or do what I do and let nature do the arranging and you will have a bright variety from orange to pink to pale purple and so forth.

And did I say they are tough!

Once you cut them for a flower arrangement they need constant water as they will wilt down and if the water is replaced soon they will stand back up. They last over a week in the bouquet. More facts about Zinnias. They are named for the German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn. The common Zinnia of your garden is, Zinnia elegans, is also called youth and old age. Butterflies are particularly attracted to Zinnias so plant lots of them to bring in the pollinators.

How to plant and grow?

Save all your flower petals. Sow in spring and are started mostly from seed sown directly into the soil. They like fertile, humus-rich well-drained soil. They will re-seed themselves every year. Plant seed 1/4 inch deep every foot. They like some space to grow, but will tolerate closer growth especially when they re-seed themselves. Then you may need to thin and transplant. Water as needed to keep the seed bed damp. As I just found out they will need more water in the excessive heat. Use an all-purpose natural fertilizer such as Johns recipe on a regular cycle and mulch around them to keep the weed down and the soil moist. They like full sun, good for us and you will need to pinch off the spent flowers or “deadhead” to keep them blooming.

Save the flowers for the seeds!

They are annuals and are susceptible to frost or freeze. They will last from spring to the frost. Now we’re talking, great hardy flowers that last. The petunia has been one of my all time favorites and is a Texas hardy long-lasting flower also but the Zinnia is giving it a run for its money. If you haven’t tried this flower I strongly suggest to put it on your to-do list for garden favorite flowers. And if possible there will be Zinnia seeds in our LLano Seed Library for next spring.

Growing Green with Jannie