How to grow zinnia from seeds
Extreme sensitivity to low temperatures makes zinnias flyers, which are usually grown through seedlings. But then in the sowing, and in the cultivation of young zinnias, there is nothing complicated. These are hardy, unpretentious and not requiring special care plants that are easy to grow from seeds. And if you also collect your own seeds, it will turn out to be one of the most “economical” summers in your garden collection. Bright baskets of inflorescences, without which it is difficult to imagine summer rabatki, flower beds and mixborders, bloom the garden with a special cheerful canvas.
Zinnias - botanical features of the plant
Zinnias are one of the most popular garden annuals. They have become so familiar for urban gardening and for private gardens that they are included in the list of classic seasonal plants. Bright colors and greens, and inflorescences - the main advantage of zinnia. Although everyone who grew these annuals fell in love with them for their endurance and unpretentiousness.
These are compact grassy annuals (perennial species are not resistant and are not used in landscape design) with strong, rigid, ribbed shoots and ovoid sessile leaves. Whole, opposite, in pairs or whorls, the leaves show off with a light grassy emerald color and a matte, pleasant to the touch surface.
Baskets of inflorescences are typical in structure, but easily recognizable in appearance. A multi-row tiled wrapper surrounds flat baskets of reed, wide enough flowers surrounding a convex core of tubular flowers. Each flower is able to not lose its decorative effect for about a month, and sometimes up to 35 days.
A variety of options and methods of propagation of zinnia can not boast. They are grown only from seeds. In regions with mild winters, planting can be carried out immediately into the soil, with the protection of crops by shelter and careful care of young seedlings.
Zinnia is also sown in the open ground in the middle lane, but such plants begin to bloom only towards the end of summer, often not having time to show off in full force. The most popular method of breeding zinnia is growing seedlings.
Zinnias bloom about 10 weeks after sowing. These are quite strict pilots by this parameter, in whom it is easy to control the start and timing of flowering.
Self-collection of seeds and their selection for sowing
Zinnias are most often grown by cutting wilting baskets to extend their flowering period. Leaving the inflorescences, you can wait for the ripening of oval-wedge-shaped, flattened, special achenes. Full-fledged zinnia seeds can only be obtained from healthy plants that have undergone normal development, have not grown at the seedling stage, and have not been transplanted into the soil too early. The strongest bushes should be chosen, leaving baskets for collecting seeds on first-order shoots.
On average, seeds ripen 60-65 days after flowering. Achenes can be tied to protect against spillage, but zinnias are usually not prone to unexpected cracking and collecting seeds from them when the deadlines are met is quite easy.
Freshly picked seeds are dried for several days in the dark at ordinary temperatures and sorted. Due to cross-pollination, seeds will usually have a wide variation in characteristics even when collecting bolls of a variety of their choice.
Zinnia seeds are immediately divided into groups, sorted by shape and size. Simple inflorescences give brown, corymbose and flat seeds; semi-double or double - elongated dark and narrowed at the base, but large-flowered terry zinnias can be obtained by selecting grayish seeds with an even more elongated shape and an awl-shaped outgrowth. Store zinnia seeds with protection from light, in "breathing" paper bags or packaging in the cold, but without freezing temperatures.
Zinnia seeds retain excellent germination and can be used for at least two, and when stored in cold weather - 4 years after harvest. Check for germination and culling after soaking allows you to get friendly shoots. Zinnia seed germination is high, up to 95% in the second year.
There are no difficulties in choosing zinnia seeds. This is an affordable plant, represented by proven varieties and varietal mixtures, often found in seed mixtures for balconies or flower girls. Since the seeds retain their germination for a long time, it is enough to check the completeness of the information, the characteristics of the variety and select trusted suppliers.
Soil and containers for sowing
Zinnia is preferably sown in individual containers that do not involve transplanting - peat pots or cassettes from peat. They develop quickly and powerfully, form strong roots, require considerable space and bloom faster if seedlings are not disturbed. But they are not afraid of transplantation.
If there is no possibility to sow in peat containers, use sowing in boxes and general containers, picking them up so that there is no need to dive or it would be possible to dive without serious injury to the roots. The standard depth of the containers is 10 cm. When sowing in ordinary flat containers, you need to prepare deep individual glasses with rhinestones, making sure that the earthen lump does not collapse when planting seedlings and the plants do not outgrow.
For zinnia, universal soil for seedlings - floral or vegetable - is quite suitable. The main attention should be paid to the light, loose texture and neutral pH values. Disinfecting the soil before sowing for zinnia is not necessary.
The optimal timing for sowing zinnia seeds is considered the second decade of April. Early sowing is undesirable, because seedlings grow very quickly and significantly stretch, outgrow even when sowing in late March. A later sowing, accordingly, delays flowering and makes caring for plants after transplanting more difficult.
If you plan to use zinnias in a pot culture, you want to decorate them with balcony and window boxes, flower girls, then you can sow them immediately in a constant container, then thinned shoots. Sowing for balconies and pottery gardens should be postponed until the first half of May, for stationary flower girls - until mid-May.
Zinnia seeds need pre-treatment. Simple soaking for several hours is necessary not only to select high-quality germinating seeds, but also to reduce the waiting period for seedlings and the uniformity of their germination. Usually zinnias are scattered on a damp cloth or napkin and left in a warm, bright place. The use of stimulants is not prohibited, but zinnias and so forth come together in unison.
There is nothing complicated in sowing:
- Tanks fill the soil by half, slightly compacting the substrate.
- Add soil to the containers, leaving 2.5-3.5 cm to the top (this will allow you to add the substrate later, deepening the seedlings). The soil is leveled and moistened. If you are not going to fill the substrate again, then make small holes in the soil with a depth of about 1 cm.
- In each pot, 2-3 seeds are laid out, gently moisten them and fall asleep or cover with a substrate. The planting depth for zinnia is 1 cm. When sown in common containers, the seeds are laid out at a distance of 4-5 cm between groups or individual seeds.
- From above, the substrate is moistened from a spray bottle.
The containers do not need to be covered with film or glass, but, if possible, stabilization of humidity for seedlings does not fit. Shelter from containers should be removed immediately, as soon as the first shoots appear.
Seed germination conditions
As a rule, zinnias sprout very quickly. The wait lasts only a few days subject to the use of freshly harvested (last season) seeds and up to 10 days for seeds that are stored for 1-2 seasons.
Zinnias love a stable, warm temperature. Optimum indicators for germination - from 22 to 26 degrees. Bright lighting is necessary only when the shoots appear, but since this plant sprouts very quickly, so as not to miss the moment the sprouts appear, it is better to immediately place the containers in a well-lit place.
For young shoots, it is important to maintain bright, diffuse lighting, avoiding stretching seedlings. If the weather is very cloudy, it is better to provide light beforehand, but pulling can be handled differently. The extended seedlings of zinnia can not be afraid to deepen, gently adding soil without ramming up to cotyledonous sprouts. Plants actively form subordinate roots and, without waterlogging, are not prone to rotting of the trunk.
Sprouts are watered gently, but not allowing the soil to dry out. Waterlogging for zinnias is just as dangerous as for any other flyers.
Dive seedlings and care for young zinnias
Diving for zinnias is undesirable, because the plants are actively growing and they do not need extra pauses. When planting in individual containers, you can leave all 2-3 sprouted sprouts, but if you want to get single bushes, they leave the strongest sprouted plant.
If the sowing was nevertheless carried out in common containers, then the dive is carried out when 1-2 real leaves are opened on the plant, very carefully, preserving the soil around the young plants. When diving, the main root can be pinched, but any injuries will slow the growth of zinnia. When diving, the plants are buried to the cotyledons, if it was not carried out, and this measure was not taken earlier. At the second leaf stage, add soil to the cotyledons to improve the volume of the root system.
Zinnia seedlings are easy to grow:
- Zinnia is watered regularly, after the topsoil has dried out, not allowing the substrate to completely dry out, but also preventing dampness;
- if a dive was carried out, seedlings 1.5 weeks after transplantation can be fed with complex mineral fertilizers diluted in water in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions;
- 1-2 dressing can be carried out for zinnias, which will subsequently be grown as a pot culture;
- if the bushes are not sufficiently branched or extended, pinching allows them to form at the seedling stage (pinching over the fourth or fifth pair of leaves is considered typical for stunted and medium zinnias).
Zinnia seedlings begin to temper very late, when the average night temperatures rise above 10 degrees. Temperature indicators must be closely monitored. Usually for the middle band of zinnia, it is recommended to harden only from the third decade of May. The plant is accustomed to fresh air and low temperatures gradually, leaving it in the open air only during the day in the first week and increasing the residence time at the time of planting.
Landing Zinnia in the open ground
For zinnias, you need to carefully choose both the place and time of planting seedlings. The thermophilicity of plants does not require waiting until the end of May, but until the end of the first or beginning of the second decade of June, when the threat of return frosts completely disappears.
Sunny, warm, protected areas, light fertile soil with a neutral reaction - the main conditions for abundant flowering of zinnia. It is better to prepare a place for planting seedlings from the autumn or several months before planting, adding organic fertilizers to increase nutrition and improve the texture of the soil. Complete mineral fertilizers in a standard dosage of 50-60 g per square meter are applied immediately before planting the plants on depleted soil.
Zinnias are planted in individual pits, with large continuous landings - in order. The optimal distance when planting seedlings: from 20 cm - for low-growing varieties, up to 30-35 cm - for tall varieties (between bushes and neighboring plants).
The main secret of success is the complete preservation of the earth coma and minimal contact with the roots. If seedlings were grown in peat pots, they are simply set in pits, filling the free space with a substrate. If zinnias were grown in individual pots or glasses, and even more so in boxes, seedlings are extracted with as much as a whole earthen lump.
After planting, you should look after the zinnias. Watering in a drought until the plants are fully adapted will allow the bushes to move faster and please with abundant greenery. If there are very hot days, then for a couple of days after planting, plants can be additionally pritenit. Zinnias are drought tolerant, but it is better not to expose the newly planted seedlings to excessive stress. In the future, zinnias are watered only with prolonged droughts, avoiding loss of decorativeness and focusing on sagging leaves.
The first top dressing can be done no earlier than 3-4 weeks after planting. If strange spots appear on the plant or the leaves begin to fade and crumble after the resumption of growth, it is worth removing the affected leaves and treating with systemic fungicides.
Open Zinnia sowing
Even in the south, where winters are much milder, sowing directly into open soil is not considered the best option. But if desired, it can be carried out from the second decade of April to mid-May. For the middle zone, only the end of May and the beginning of June, when age-related frosts leave, are permissible.
Sowing is best done immediately in a permanent place. Sowing on seedlings with subsequent transplantation of plants will further delay the beginning of flowering.
Seeds are sown shallowly, in individual holes at a distance of 10 cm, 2-3 seeds or in grooves with a similar distance. It is advisable to make crops uniform and sparse, but excess plants can then be removed or planted during thinning.
Shelter with nonwoven materials or a film of moistened soil can accelerate the emergence of seedlings. Young zinnias should be protected from cold snap. Seedlings grown immediately in the soil should be monitored, ensuring stable light soil moisture.
Thinning seedlings is carried out after the second full leaf has blossomed. The pinching of the tops begin to be carried out after the fifth pair of leaves is opened.