Written and photographed by Debby Larsen
Desert Zinnia (Zinnia acerosa) and Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora) are very drought-tolerant, making them ideal for our climate. These diminutive native perennials are often utilized in landscapes as ground cover due to their compact nature and long blooming time.
The daisy-like flowers bloom continuously from spring into fall. Papery-textured, they persist on the stems and gradually dry to a straw color.
Zinnia acerosa has delicate snow-white flowers while those of Zinnia grandiflora are more robust and lemon-yellow in hue.
Forming a rounded mound, the woody base holds stems of needle-thin, gray-green leaves.
These charming clumps, covered with vibrant color, stand out when planted with bolder, sculptural species. Mix these adaptable plants with bold, sculptural cacti or agaves to soften the look.
Set them about eight inches apart for a complete ground cover to six inches in height. They create a colorscape in a rock garden with the added benefit of stabilizing the slope.
These zinnias grow rapidly from seed or can be divided from larger plants. They are magnets for bees and butterflies, but deter rabbits and deer.
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