Monarch Butterflies love Giant Zinnia flowers for their nectar.
Have a garden full of Giant Zinnia's and you have a garden full of Monarchs.
In its native Mexico, the Spanish referred to the zinnia as "mal de ojos" (which literally translates as 'sickness of the eyes'), thinking it a small and unattractive flower. The seeds were sent to Europe in the 18th century. It received its name from a German medical professor, Johann Gottfried Zinn, who was the person to provide the first written description of the flower.
Zinnias are annuals, which means that they go from a seed to a flower and then to seed quickly. Their seeds, shaped like little arrowheads, require only basic garden prep to sprout: sow them in well-drained soil, where there's full sun and lots of summer heat, and you'll have tiny seedlings in days, with flowers showing in just a few weeks.
Zinnia flowers are a must-plant annual in the butterfly garden and a favourite nectar source for monarchs. We live in a hot area of New Zealand and I find them to be hardy plants that require little water and they flower for months.
Monarchs in New Zealand go for Giant Zinnias, big time, but not so much the miniature zinnia varieties. If you plant the miniature variety, expecting Monarchs to come and feed, you may be disappointed. I have tried, but they just haven't come. The giant variety, now, that really brings them.
Garden Centres in NZ don't tend to sell the giant zinnia variety as plants, however these are easy to grow from seed and seeds are available from Kings Seeds or sometimes on Trade Me.
Once you have plants, you can collect your own seeds from your spent flowers and, in subsequent years, sow your own seeds.
To collect seeds, first allow the flowers to dry fully on the stem. Collect the seed heads and lightly crush them in your hand to release the seeds that look like little arrows.
Store in a cool, dry place.
Johann Gottfried Zinn (December 6, 1727 – April 6, 1759) was was born in Schwabach. He was a German anatomist and botanist member of the Berlin Academy.
Considering his short life span, Zinn made a great contribution to the study of anatomy. In his book Descriptio anatomica oculi humani, he provided the first detailed and comprehensive anatomy of the human eye.
In 1753 Johann Gottfried Zinn became director of the Botanic garden of the University of Göttingen, and in 1755, professor in the medical faculty.
In 1757 Zinn described the orchid genus Epipactis that belongs to the family Orchidaceae.He died in Göttingen.
It was Botanist Carolus Linnaeus who designated a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae, native to Mexico, as Zinnia in his honor.
There are around 20 species of zinnias occurring in the wild. Most are annuals but there are a few that are perennials and shrubs. To learn more about some of the most popular zinnias today, see Fergus Garrett's article on Zinnias in the September, 2011 edition of Gardens Illustrated as well as Tovah Martin's post on zinnias at her blog, Plantswise, by clicking here.
REF: Johann Zinn wikipedia.org.