June 23, 2017

Bright and Spineless

Zinnia elegans 'Cactus Bright Jewel Mix'

Janine Pineo Photo | Zinnia elegans ‘Cactus Bright Jewel Mix’

A shock of color is par for the course for zinnias, and Zinnia elegans ‘Cactus Bright Jewel Mix’ is all that and then some. This annual is rather stately on sturdy stems that can reach 3 feet in height, although the blossoms are a little less stiff than the dahlia-flowered varieties. Cactus-flowered zinnias have a looser look, with petals that ruffle and twist. This heirloom was introduced decades ago by Burpee, called a breakthrough at the time because before then the cactus-flowered gave consistent colors that had proved elusive in other cultivars. Zinnias are easy to grow in Maine and can be directly seeded in the spring after frost danger has passed. They do best in full sun with adequate moisture and thrive in the heat. Deadheading keeps the plants producing flowers all season long until a hard frost. And unlike cactus, these ones don’t have spines.