July 7, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

The National Garden Bureau has named 2000 the “Year of the Zinnia,” since native zinnias are easy to grow and adaptable to most North American gardens. These flowers are especially good in Kentucky landscapes because they tolerate heat and drought well, although traditional zinnias succumb to unsightly powdery mildew.

“The new profusion zinnias are resistant to powdery mildew,” Rick Durham, horticulture specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, said. “There are two varieties currently on the market, Profusion Cherry and Profusion Orange and that will give you some idea of the color.”

Profusion Cherry and Orange were introduced in 1999 as Gold Medal All-America Selection Winners. The National Garden Bureau reserves Gold Medals for breeding breakthroughs. Sometimes they are awarded as rarely as once per decade.

Zinnias are annual flowers that range in height from eight inches to four feet. They attract butterflies and other wildlife such as hummingbirds with their nectar. Annual flowerbeds are enjoyable because of their long flowering season. Zinnias will profusely produce flowers from now until the first frost.

“With a lot of annuals, you have to do what is called “dead-heading” or cutting back the old flowers to keep the plant going throughout the summer,” Durham said. “With zinnias, you don’t have to do that. They’ll keep growing without being pruned back. The color supply is pretty much constant.”

Durham said that when you see the plants in a garden center sometimes they aren’t as colorful as they will become in the home landscape. He said to look for sturdy, green plants. Usually zinnias will be sold in individual three-inch pots. Zinnias prefer fertile soil and are fairly drought tolerant, but Durham believes they will benefit from some supplemental irrigation during the driest parts of the summer.


 Richard Durham 859-257-3249