If you’re looking to add kaleidoscopic pops of color to your garden, then you must put the swizzle zinnia on your radar. These flowers will suck you in with their spectrum of bright yellows and vibrant reds. Read on to learn all about your new favorite flower.
Brief History of Swizzle Zinnias
The swizzle zinnia was developed in Kansas of all places. Created by Kansas State University’s department in horticulture, they wanted to develop a variety of flowers that could withstand the harsh mood swings of life on the prairie.
They tested the swizzle zinnia for two years, checking how it could handle prairie weather and maximize its bloom. Dorothy and Toto are shook.
The swizzle zinnia is a hybrid variety of the Zinnia Grandiflora.
Swizzle Zinnia Characteristics
Its most defining feature is its bloom, which fades into different colors the further from the center it gets. The parts of the petal closest to the pistil are vibrant, dark colors. Think deep reds. The petals get lighter and more muted the more outward you go.
The head can get up to three inches in diameter. The stems and leaves that shoot off it are standard green.
In addition to its colorful bloom, the other defining characteristic of the swizzle zinnia is its height – or lack thereof. While they can get as tall as twenty inches, they typically don’t grow taller than twelve inches, which is short for zinnias.
Its height is a side effect of being developed for the prairie. The flower stays shorter to protect itself against the harsh, cold winds that can sweep across the plains.
When putting together a bouquet, zinnias pair well with dahlias. Both have intricate petal arrangements, but the dahlia blooms are usually solid-colored, a nice contrast to the swizzle zinnia’s multi-colored head.
Are Swizzle Zinnias Poisonous?
They are not poisonous to humans or animals, so do not worry if your child or your dog gets ahold of one. But just because they’re edible doesn’t mean they taste good. The swizzle zinnia has a bitter taste.
All parts of the plant are edible. Petals can be brewed for tea. Leaves can be plucked as used in salads or as a garnish. Some cooks have also garnished meals with entire zinnia heads to add color to their dishes.
For a fun party idea, freeze swizzle zinnia petals in ice cube trays, then serve during cocktails. People can enjoy colorful ice cubes in their drink for a lively, summery feel.
How to Grow Swizzle Zinnias
If you want to plant swizzle zinnias, it’s best to start the seeds indoors before transferring them into your garden. Start them indoors in early spring, around March or April. Plant them in seed trays with nutrient-rich soil and place them by a window with direct sunlight. Make sure to water them regularly.
Once you get sprouts popping through the soil, transfer them into your garden. You want to wait until after the final frost of the season to do the transfer. Spring weather is notoriously unreliable; the last thing you want is to start seeds for weeks and plant them in the ground only to have them die during one last cold snap.
Aim to plant your seeds in your garden in May or June, when we’re well past the final frost. (If you live in a far northern climate, wait until June to be safe.)
Plant your seeds about ten inches apart in well-drained soil. That way, you can ensure they don’t suffocate each other and that they get enough sunlight and soil nutrients.
If your garden is getting ample sunlight, and you planted your swizzle zinnias in the summer, then the soil should ideally be around eighty degrees.
Because of their diminutive nature, it’s vitally important to plant the swizzle zinnias in a spot that gets full, direct sun exposure. Don’t plant them in a place where they’ll be hidden.
Swizzle zinnias are tender plants, so they will need extra TLC from you, which mostly means keeping a watchful eye on them. If it hasn’t rained in a few days, make sure they’re getting water and soil fertilizer. Always, watch out for bees, as they’ll show up to pollinate.
If all goes as planned, they should bloom by late summer or early fall, think August, about sixty to ninety days after the initial planting.
Swizzle zinnia seeds are known to germinate well and take to soil easily. They have a high rate of success post-transfer, so the odds are in your favor!
Varieties of Swizzle Zinnias
There are two main breeds of swizzle zinnias.
Cherry and Ivory Swizzle Zinnia
The petals start as deep red at the center and then transition to creamy white at the ends. The pistil is flecked with yellow buds. Before they bloom, the flowers will have a lime green and pink color to them.
Scarlet and Yellow Swizzle Zinnia
Lots more color here! The petals begin at the pistil as hot pink, then transition to red, then orange, then finally yellow at the tips. If you’re wanting a muted color palette, then stick with the cherry and ivory.
Where to Buy Swizzle Zinnias
You can buy seeds online through gardens/nurseries that ship to you, or you can try local nurseries. Your town may have a seed library that includes these seeds. Check your local library, which usually houses them.
You can buy cut flowers from a florist. Check with your local florist to see if they have them in stock. If not, you might be able to order them online from a florist who ships.
From A to Swizzle Zinnia
Swizzle zinnias are a beautiful addition for your garden. They’re straightforward to grow and have a high yield. Your garden will be drowning in color thanks to these short-but-mighty plants.
If you want more color, then check out our other articles on zinnias, including the eye-popping Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnia.
Interested in more zinnia content? Visit my zinnia page for more growing tips, care guides, bouquet suggestions, and more!