Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Even if they didn’t amaze me like many other plants, I was nonetheless lovingly aware of zinnias as a child. Mostly, I noticed their variety of colors when I came across them; white, yellow, green, orange, red, purple, or lilac and more.

Zinnias are popular garden flowers because of their wide range of colors and shapes and they are easy to grow from seeds. They will also reseed themselves each year. The garden zinnia was bred via hybridisation from the wild form. Zinnias bloom throughout the summer months and they are drought tolerant.

The more blossoms are cut, the more they grow and re-bloom.

     Zinnia elegans

double fire Zahara zinnia

Photographs: Gülçin Kori

These days, zinnias have become very trendy. They have been to space too. On Jan. 16, 2016 NASA astronaut Scott Kelly revealed to the world that his bright orange zinnias had blossomed on board the International Space Station.

Robert Z. Pearlman (collectSPACE.com Editor, January 21, 2016) posted that just a few weeks earlier, the zinnias, which were part of the NASA plant growth experiment had come close to dying due to a break out of mold. With the revised care plan by NASA botanists on the ground and Kelly's own green thumb in orbit, things turned out well.


Kelly’s blooming zinnias were not the first flowers grown in space though. Four years ago, astronaut Don Pettit had grown some vegetables and his sunflower had bloomed modestly. There have been numerous prior attempts at growing things in space.

Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family Asteraceae. They are native to scrub and dry grasslands in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, with most diversity in Mexico.

The genus was named by Carl von Linné after the German botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn, 1727–59 (who described the species now known as Zinnia peruviana in 1757 as Rudbeckia but Linné realized that it was not a Rudbeckia, another genus also in the sunflower tribe).

Zinnia peruviana was introduced to Europe in the early 1700s. Around 1790 Zinnia elegans was introduced and those plants had a single row of ray florets which were violet. In 1829, scarlet flowering plants were available under the name 'Coccinea'. Double flowering types were available in 1858 from India and they were in a range of colors including shades of reds, rose, purple, orange, buff, and rose. Over 100 cultivars have been produced since selective breeding started in the 19th century.

Zinnia elegans or elegant zinnia is one of the best known zinnias. It is native to Mexico but it is grown as an ornamental in many places and naturalized in many parts of the world. Its height ranges from 15 cm to 1 meter. It has solitary flower heads about (5 cm) across.

Zinnia angustifolia is another Mexican species. It has more delicate flowers than Z. elegans-usually single, and in shades of yellow, orange or white.

Zinnias are annuals, shrubs, and sub-shrubs. Most species have upright stems. They typically range in height from 10 to 100 cm tall. The leaves are opposite and usually stalkless (sessile), with a shape ranging from linear to ovate, and a color ranging from pale to medium green. Zinnia flowers have a range of appearances, from a single row of petals to a dome shape.

This is ‘Zinnia’, a beautiful spring driven kinetic sculpture by Clayton Boyer that will quietly run about 40 minutes on a full wind.




All butterflies and hummingbirds love zinnias and many gardeners add zinnias to their gardens specifically to attract them.

My brother Aydın’s zinnias look lovely. Swallow tail and monarch butterflies visit his zinnias as well as birds and hummingbirds. Zinnias are edible so we could all try some.


  1. Hi Beste - it's wonderful how plants from our youth remind us of so much .. zinnias are beautiful .. such a range of colours and lovely that they attract the butterflies and other pollinating insects ... it's good the seed spreads in the drier regions of the world ... leaving nourishment behind as their cycle comes and goes ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Indeed, Hilary, I love that flowers and plants are such a big part of my childhood memories. Only now I'm learning so many interesting facts about them. Putting the two together has been enjoyable.

  3. Interesting! I don't think I've ever noticed them particularly. Isn't that strange?

  4. I was in nature more than you have been able to. That's an important part of it.