Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on January 12, 2006. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
New zinnia blazes into garden centers
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Zowie! That is a word that may conjure up memories of the 1960's Batman television series when it may have been used to mean wow, incredible or great Scott. In 2006, it will remind you of an All-America Selections Flower Award Winner, a zinnia called “Zowie! Yellow Flame.”
Regardless of whether or not you like the name, you will like the flower. This Zinnia elegans is the first semi-tall zinnia with a unique bicolor pattern. It will reach 24 to 39 inches tall, making it shorter than the Benary Giants but taller than Dreamland or Magellan zinnias. It will spread to a width of 26 to 27 inches, so space plants about 24 inches apart.
Each bloom flames with a scarlet-rose center and yellow petal edges. There is no other zinnia with this fiery design. In addition, this bicolor pattern is consistent from one plant to another. As expected, there are more desirable traits from “Zowie! Yellow Flame.”
Gardeners will be glad to learn it is easy to grow this plant from seeds, transplants or flowering potted plants. Deadheading or better yet cutting for the vase will keep it producing for months. Since it makes such a great cut flower, consider planting succession crops for spring, summer and fall.
University of Maryland conducted cut-flower trials and found Zowie to have a vase life of up to two weeks. Consider using it as the center plant in mixed containers combined with Purple Heart, Blue Daze evolvulus or New Wonder scaevola.
In the landscape, it screams to be planted with another 2006 AAS winner, Evolution Salvia farinacea. Evolution might remind you of our Mississippi Medallion award-winning Victoria Blue.
Evolution has lilac blue flower spikes and will reach 16 to 20 inches in height and 14 to 16 inches wide. Evolution's color seems to be richer and more saturated than Victoria, and offers us another choice when it comes to blue flowers.
Evolution should be perennial throughout Mississippi given proper bed preparation. This mint family member is native to Texas and can tolerate a lot of cold if it has good drainage.
As you are preparing your bed for “Zowie! Yellow Flame” and Evolution, incorporate 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and 2 pounds of a slow-release fertilizer like a 12-6-6 per 100 square feet of planting area. This organic matter will improve drainage and aeration and assist you greatly for a spring return of the salvias.
Like Zowie, the Evolution salvia also makes a great cut flower for the vase and can be dried for an everlasting bouquet. Though we are not ready for spring planting yet, we are ready do a little bed preparation and site planning. If you will combine “Zowie! Yellow Flame” and Evolution, you will have one of the showiest beds in years.
Zowie would also make an incredible partner with Black Pearl ornamental pepper, another AAS winner that I wrote about earlier. This is one of the finest peppers I have grown, and its dark purple-black leaves and fruit will partner well with the yellow from Zowie.