Summer just wouldn’t be summer without candy-colored zinnias. In the heart of the season, when the heat reaches its peak, these beloved annuals—with roots deep in Mexico—decorate the landscape week after week. ‘Little Lion’, an heirloom zinnia, stands out from the rest by virtue of its fully double orange-red blooms, which look like shaggy miniature lions’ manes. At 4 to 5 inches across, the flowers offer a nice wide landing pad for butterflies. This cultivar, offered by Renee’s Garden, was chosen by the staff of Gardening How-To as one of the best new varieties in 2011.
Common name: ‘Little Lion’ zinnia
Botanical name: Zinnia elegans ‘Little Lion’
Plant type: Annual
Height: 36 to 42 inches tall
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Average, well-drained
• Moisture: Average
• Mulch: Mulch will help preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: Pinch to encourage bushy growth.
• Fertilizer: In containers, use quick-release plant food every two or three weeks.
• By seed
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to leaf spots, powdery mildew, root rot, and gray mold.
• Zinnias are famous for falling prey to powdery mildew. Be sure to thin seedlings so there’s enough space between them for good air circulation, and water regularly.
• If you use your ‘Little Lion’ blooms as cut flowers, cut long stems from the plant when the blossoms are newly opened.
• Deadhead to encourage more blooming.
All in the family
• The genus Zinnia contains about 20 species, all from dry, hot areas in the Americas.
• Asteraceae, the aster family, contains many familiar garden flowers, including marigolds, sunflowers, dahlias, chrysanthemums, goldenrods, daisies, and dandelions.
Where to buy
• Renee’s Garden, Felton, CA, 888-880-7228, www.reneesgarden.com
• Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, Grass Valley, CA, 888-784-1722, www.groworganic.com,
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo courtesy of Renee’s Garden)