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Zinnia

Zinnia

Zinnia is an annual or perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family, a family that includes about 20,000 species and is the largest group of flowering plants among those existing in nature. The genus Zinnia includes about twenty species that originated in the areas of Mexico and Central America. Their cultivation, nowadays, is also widespread in Italy where it is used for the creation of hedges, flower beds and borders or is grown in pots to decorate balconies and terraces. Zinnias are bushy and their stems are erect and branched. Depending on the species they belong to, the Zinnias, reach heights ranging from 30 to 150 centimeters. The leaves can have an oval or lanceolate shape, are arranged opposite on the stem, they have a green but not too dark color and are rough to the touch. The flowers, gathered in flower heads, can be both simple and double and have different shapes and colors. Generally, the colors go from shades of white to those of yellow, orange, red and purple. The flowers of these plants are very similar to daisies but their particularity is that they do not emit any perfume.

Cultivation


Zinnias are plants of easy cultivation, in fact, they easily adapt to any type of soil we use for cultivation. For an excellent development, however, it is advisable to use a soft, well-drained soil rich in organic substances essential for plant nutrition. Obviously these are the conditions if we grow the plants in the open ground. If, on the other hand, we grow our seedlings in pots, it is advisable to add peat and sand to the soil in order to ensure good water drainage. As for the exposure, the Zinnias are plants that like to be placed in direct sunlight but, despite this, they also tolerate areas of partial shade. They are plants that tolerate high temperatures well but do not resist the cold, in fact, they should be placed in well-lit places but away from drafts and temperature changes. These types of plants do not need a lot of watering also because they can withstand short periods of drought. The advice is to water them regularly with water at room temperature, avoiding the formation of water stagnations that are harmful to the plant. Remember that the soil must be dry between one watering and the next.

Reproduction and planting

The reproduction of these plants takes place by seed and the sowing must be carried out from February to March. The seeds must be placed in any container with earth and sand inside and the container must be covered, for protection, with a plastic sheet. Subsequently, the container must be placed in a sheltered place with temperatures around 18 ° C. After a couple of weeks, when the seeds kick out the first shoots, the cloth can be removed and the light gradually increased. Once strengthened, the new plants can be planted. Planting must take place between April and May. The seedling should be placed in a hole dug about twice the length of the roots in depth. Once this is done, the hole, it must be covered with earth and the ground watered. As for the repotting, it must be done during the spring period when the pot has become too small to host the plant. For the choice of the new pot, it is advisable to use a pot that is only slightly larger than the previous one in order to favor a correct development both for the roots and for the rest of the plant.

Other treatments

Zinnias do not require special pruning, the only parts to be removed are the dry leaves, withered flowers and damaged parts of the plant. A small pruning can be done to stimulate the production of new flowers, topping must be done. The cuts that are made must be made with scissors and sharp knives that are cleaned and disinfected before and after use so as not to infect and damage the plant. A care that these plants need is periodic fertilization through liquid fertilizer for flowering plants to be diluted in the water used for watering. The fertilizer must be administered every 20 days and must contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These three elements will ensure abundant blooms and bright, vibrant colors. Like most plants, these too risk diseases and parasitic attacks. Zinnia is often affected by powdery mildew, which is a disease caused by a fungus that leads to the formation of whitish spots on the leaves. A parasite that affects these plants is the mealy bugs which leads to the fall of the leaves and flowers. The remedy, in the first case, is to use a specific fungicide while, in the second, we use a specific insecticide.

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