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Zahara and Profusion give winning display
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Gardeners can rejoice because there are two great new choices for yellow zinnias in the landscape: Zahara is available now, and gardeners can buy Profusion next year.
This year gardeners celebrated the appearance of the Zahara series with scarlet and the much-anticipated yellow. The Profusion series of zinnias has colors like Fire, Cherry, Orange and Deep Apricot, but it still lacks yellow for another year. Of course there are white zinnias in both series, but we all longed for yellow.
The Zahara Yellow did not disappoint with its cheerful delivery of a yellow that leans slightly toward the pastel side of the scale. It’s the perfect yellow to partner with violet flowers like verbenas or petunias.
In 2010, we can all look forward to the addition of Profusion Yellow. This yellow has a little more gold than Zahara Yellow, but it does its part to quench the thirst for yellow zinnias in the landscape.
The Zahara Fire and Zahara Starlight Rose will be as welcome as Profusion Yellow next season. These varieties are truly exceptional and have performed exceedingly well in our Mississippi trials.
The bi-colored Zahara Starlight Rose offers white with a very healthy portion of rose radiating out from the center of the flower almost like a starburst. This deep rose color allows it to partner extraordinarily well with the new Bouquet Rose dianthus.
Rather than risk presuming that everyone has tried either the Profusion or Zahara series, let me explain how these are superior for the garden. These varieties are not your cut-flower zinnias. They get about 12 to 18 inches tall and as wide. There is a Profusion Knee High that, as the name suggests, gets slightly taller, and there are some fine Profusion Double flowered selections.
The biggest difference in these series and others is disease resistance. You simply will not see leaf spotting and powdery mildew with these rugged performers. When I say rugged, I mean they will persevere all summer through intense heat and drought conditions.
These series also boast several award-winners. Profusion Cherry and Profusion Orange were both All America Gold Medal Selections in 1999, and Profusion White was so honored in 2001. In 2010, Zahara Starlight Rose will win the coveted All America Selection Bedding Plant Award.
Obviously, some of these plants will be impossible to find until next spring, but progressive garden centers may offer fresh transplants of these selections. If you find yourself with a tired summer garden, plant some of these transplants and know that you will be getting a tough flower that will give you award-winning performance until cold weather arrives.
Select a site in full sun with fertile, well-drained soil. Those of us with tight, heavy clay should incorporate 3 to 4 inches of organic matter during bed preparation or plant on raised beds with a prepared planting mix. Space your plants about 12 inches apart, planting at the same depth they are growing in the container. Finish off with a good layer of mulch. These are low-maintenance zinnias requiring little, if any, deadheading.
Zinnias rank high as favorite garden annuals, and both the Profusion and Zahara series will give you exceptional value for your gardening dollar.