What caterpillars eat zinnias

Zinnias

origin

Zinnias (Zinnia) belong to the sunflower or aster family (Asteraceae). The different types of zinnias come from the southern USA and Central America, where they grow in semi-deserts and stony steppes. The 20 different species are perennial perennials or subshrubs. However, since they are all not frost-hardy, we mainly cultivate them as annual summer flowers.

Appearance and stature

Since the 19th century, new varieties of the garden zinnia (Zinnia elegans) have been bred in European nurseries. This sometimes comes with simple, sometimes densely filled flowers, which are then reminiscent of ball dahlias or chrysanthemums. Zinnias bloom from July to October in red, pink, purple, yellow, orange and white, and they also have two-tone flowers. Depending on the variety, the decorative zinnia can reach a height of 20 to 100 centimeters. The narrow-leaved zinnia (Zinnia angustifolia), on the other hand, is only 25 to 50 centimeters high, with warm yellow and orange tones also dominating. The leaves of most species are elliptical, usually tapering to a point and often noticeably rough.

Location and soil

Zinnias need a full sun, warm location on soil that is as well drained as possible. A loamy subsoil with little humus, interspersed with stones, is ideal. The soil should be moderately dry to fresh, but in no case damp. Summer flowers can cope with drought without any problems, but they die very quickly when waterlogged.

use

Zinnias are easy to care for and come in a wide variety of colors - and that for many summer weeks. Alone or in combination with other sun-hungry summer flowers such as decorative baskets, sun hats and dahlias, zinnias have adorned beds for centuries. They are an indispensable part of all farm gardens. The pretty summer flowers are also always welcome as a gap filler between perennials and grasses or as a colorful splash of color in the pot on the terrace.

maintenance

In order for zinnias to bloom all summer long, the withered parts are cut off regularly, as this stimulates the formation of buds. In addition, the plants that need nutrients should be provided with an organic flowering fertilizer or some ripe compost soon after they have been planted out. Some tall varieties also need a support because they are not very stable. The summer flowers are only watered when the drought persists. When the flowers wear off in late autumn, they can be taken out of the bed and composted.

Multiplication

Zinnias can be grown from seeds as early as February, provided that the place is sufficiently bright. Summer flowers need temperatures of 18 degrees Celsius to germinate, but they are very reliable. It is best to sow in seed trays and prick out the seedlings in individual pots as soon as they have three to four leaves. If the first flower bud forms at the end of the stem, it is generously clipped out so that the plants become bushier. The young plants, which are sensitive to the cold, should not be planted until the end of May. If you want to add color to your garden with zinnias in a hurry, you can instead buy flowering plants from June to late summer, for example at the weekly market.

Diseases and pests

If zinnias are planted too closely, fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and various leaf spot diseases can easily spread. Make sure that the plants are spaced a little apart and avoid watering over the leaves. In addition, stem rot is a problem in too moist soils. Once it has occurred, do not plant zinnias in the same place for the next few years, otherwise the risk of re-infection is very high. Plants that are infested with fungi should be removed from the bed as early as possible.

The most common animal pest is the nudibranch, because zinnias are extremely tasty. In sunny, warm, rather dry locations, however, the damage is usually limited. More rarely, aphids or spider mites can also be infested