Thursday, June 5, 2014

How to Grow Zinnias in the Philippines

Zinnias have a special place in my heart because my mom used to plant them in our garden back home and they would just bloom like they were being paid for it.

First, you start with the seeds. I initially bought the seeds but after the plant bloomed and the flowers dried up, I harvested the seeds and re-planted them.

For Php 59.75 you will get about this much:

You can choose to either have them grow in a seedling tray and then transplant them, or you can just directly sow them in a pot or in the ground. I tried both, and I suggest you plant them directly. The ones I planted in a tray and transplanted took 4 months to bloom as compared to the ones I directly sowed on the ground which bloomed after just 4 weeks. But if you would like to start the seeds in a tray the advantage is that you will be able to space them properly in your flower bed when they are big enough to be transplanted. If you directly sow the seeds on the ground, you wouldn't know which ones would sprout and which one wouldn't. Sometimes you'd also end up with two or more in a hole.

Regardless of whether I start seeds in a tray or directly sow them, I always use a seed-raising mix because it ensures that the seeds and seedlings get the nutrients they need for a healthy start. I put a little on top of the soil when I do the direct method and fill up the entire seed tray when I do the other technique.

Now, how deep should you plant the seeds? Just about a half centimeter. Don't bury the seeds too deep because sunlight will not reach it and could rot.You don't necessarily have to measure it with a ruler. Just pop one or two on the soil and then sprinkle it with a bit of soil that's just enough to cover it so that it will not get burned by the sun but not too shallow that it will be displaced when you water your zinnias seeds.

Zinnias in a plastic egg tray.
 Put them out in the sun and water once daily. It's best to use a sprayer so the seeds don't drown in too much water. Water it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. We all know how hot it can get here in the Philippines, so do not water your zinnias when the sun is fully up or on the hottest parts of the day (between 10 AM - 4 PM) because they could suffer from osmotic shock and harm their growth.

After about 3-4 days, your growing zinnias will look like the ones in the third & fourth rows. The first and the second rows are asters.

Zinnia seedlings on the 3rd and fourth rows.
Once your zinnias have a true set of leaves (3-4) you can transplant them, but don't hold them on the stem, just on the leaves and dig a hole just enough to cover the roots and make the plant stable enough not to be easily washed out when you water. Continue watering once a day and make sure they are placed where they'd get plenty of sun.

Transplanted zinnias on the flower bed.

When they reach about six inches tall, pinch off the top leaves to encourage branching. Fertilize at least once a month. If you want more zinnia flowers, make sure you regularly deadhead the plant by cutting off dried flowers. But if you want to harvest seeds later on, you must bear with the ugly sight and let the zinnia flowers dry up completely on the plant which I will talk later on in another post.

Wait for about 4-12 weeks for them to bloom like the ones I have below:

So there you have it, the basics of growing zinnias in the Philippines. I know how frustrating it can sometimes be with regard to growing zinnias or any other flowering plant for that matter here with our tropical weather. I hope you learned a thing or two in this post. I will talk about harvesting zinnia seeds on my next blog post so watch out for it. Till next time, happy gardening!

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Summer Rain, Withered Lavenders, Zinnias and Sunflower Dreams

It's heart breaking to see, but this is how it is with lavender growing in the Philippines. From close to 100 seedlings, and now down to four today. The picture below was taken a week ago and two more died since then:

The ones that survived are the French lavenders. But it is still very hard to cultivate due to the high level of humidity and rains that we get.

My small experiment comes to an end and I therefore conclude that True Lavender (Lavandula angustifloia) will not thrive in the Philippines. However, French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) can thrive provided that you don't over water it. They also grow pretty easily through cuttings.

I have yet to plant more French lavenders and let's see how things will turn out. For now, while I'm nursing my lavender hearth ache, I'm moving on to new things. My next project is this:

And this!!!

So follow me on my next gardening adventure and let's see how far it will go this time. And if it fails, well then it's all part of one great adventure because...

And always remember: "Life is either one great adventure, or nothing."- Helen Keller


This post also appears in Dreamweaver