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Two zinnias garner statewide honors
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The two newest zinnias in the Profusion series have garnered top honors in Mississippi. The Mississippi Plant Selections Committee chose the Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot as 2006 Mississippi Medallion award winners.
The Mississippi Medallion award program began in 1996 with the selections of New Gold lantana and Blue Daze evolvulus.
The Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association, the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Mississippi Plant Selections Committee sponsor the program.
The Profusion series has put zinnias back in America's mainstream gardens. The Cherry, Orange and White, the first in the series, each earned the All-America Selections Gold Medal award. The Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot varieties have the same superior performance and disease-resistance. They bloom from spring until frost.
If you liked the old Profusion Orange, the Profusion Fire will blow you away with its scarlet and orange. The Profusion Apricot is light coral with a rich terracotta center. The plants form dense compact mounds 15 inches tall and as wide that are drought-tolerant. The flowers are only 2 inches wide, but they stand out like beacons when you have 50 of them on a plant.
Select a site in full sun with fertile, well-drained soil because they cannot survive wet feet. Prepare the planting area by tilling in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter along with a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer.
Incorporate 2 pounds of the fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area. Plant nursery-grown transplants at the same depth they are growing in the container, spacing 10 to 12 inches apart. Apply a layer of mulch after planting.
Feed with a light application of fertilizer one month after transplanting and every four to six weeks throughout the growing season. If the mound shape becomes less than desirable, prune lightly to generate more growth and blooming for the fall garden. The Profusion series is also outstanding as a mid-summer or fall-planted crop and absolutely loves September and October.
The Profusion Fire and Profusion Apricot zinnias are perfect for the front of the border and are outstanding with Victoria Blue salvia, another Mississippi Medallion award winner. They also make a stunning combination when planted in large drifts next to the icy blue flowers of Blue Daze evolvulus, the first Mississippi Medallion award winner. Try them also with the new Mystic Spires Blue salvia, the first dwarf/compact selection of Indigo Spires. Profusion Apricot is incredible with coleus like Tilt-a-Whirl and ornamental grasses like Purple Fountain.
For a really showy display, try planting a Santa Fe Mix. Planting a combination of the Profusion Fire, Profusion Apricot and Profusion Orange creates the Santa Fe Mix. Plan to plant in a large informal drift, spacing your plants 12 to 15 inches apart and alternating your colors.
I could not be happier that zinnias are back at the garden center again. In addition to these Mississippi Medallion award winners, look also for the 2006 All-America Selections winner, Zowie! Yellow Flame and the Scarlet and Yellow Swizzle.