Zinnia elegans, Zinnia marylandica, Zinnia elegans pumila, Zinnia elegans super cactus
Long time gardeners love the dependable show of colors in their garden or meadow while children love how easy they are to plant. Zinnias should be one of your summer staples, to enjoy year after year with their bright and cheerful display of chartreuse, amethyst, gold, tangerine and all of their colors. A lover of a warm-hot climate, Zinnia seeds simply need reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. Zinnias are native to North America. Continue to seed your Zinnias throughout your early summer and you could have blooms until frost, depending on your zone. In their native habitat, stretching from the southern U.S. to Chile, plants of the Zinnia genus are perennials. They are particularly abundant in Mexico. Gardeners in colder areas commonly plant the zinnia as an annual. In its native Mexico, the Spanish referred to the zinnia as "mal de ojos" (which literally translates as sickness of the eyes). The seeds were sent to Europe in the 18th century. It received its name from a German medical professor named Johann Gottfried Zinn, who provided the first written description of the flower. It was not until the late-19th century that the zinnia became more widely used as breeders in Germany, Holland and Italy began selecting zinnias for their desirable characteristics. 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. Within the next few years he selected from this strain a large flat-flowered type called California Giant. Available in separate colors and considered an innovation in plant type and form, it was awarded a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society of England. The 1950s brought more new zinnias, including the tetraploid State Fair (a tetraploid is specially bred with extra chromosomes for larger flowers and greater vigor). And today we have so many to choose from.