June 28, 2017

Good Breeding

Zinnia 'State Fair'

Janine Pineo Photo - Zinnia 'State Fair'

Zinnias may be considered an old-fashioned flower, but the truth is that the plant has been on the cutting edge of science for years. When Spaniards first spotted a zinnia in Mexico, they thought is so unattractive that the plant’s subsequent name mal de ojos translated to “sickness of the eye.” Decades of breeding have made the modern zinnia what it is today. ‘State Fair’ is one of those miracles of science and is actually a tetraploid, or having four sets of chromosomes. Two are normal. The seeds of this dahlia-flowering zinnia were introduced to the public in 1939. And zinnias couldn’t be easier to grow. They can be sown straight in the garden after the threat of frost has passed in the spring.

2011 was the year of the zinnia at the National Garden Bureau.