Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
Zinnia elegans 'Swizzle Cherry and Ivory'
I thought I had seen every zinnia there was until I stumbled upon 'Swizzle Cherry and Ivory' zinnias. I planted sixteen plants together, approximately one foot apart. I had rescued the plants from a local clearance rack, which is a vice I am reluctant to give up, though some think I should. I look at it as a challenge.
So, seeing as these plants were looking a little rough around the edges, plus it was around the 20th of June when I could finally plant them, they had a less than ideal start. Combined with the oppressive heat we have had this summer, these poor zinnias really had some obstacles to overcome!
I was pleasantly surprised. The 'Swizzle' series is a bicolor zinnia, which is what caught my eye in the first place. 'Cherry and Ivory' has bright red center petals, followed by white petals, then surrounded by white petals edged in red. There is also another color combination available 'Scarlet and Yellow' which is equally striking. The flowers are long-lived, many lasting more than a week.
The plant itself is dwarf compared to other zinnias, being only ten to twelve inches high. The blooms are three to four inches across. My plants have several flowers blooming at once, totally hiding the foliage. Also, I have not observed powdery mildew, which is a very common disease on many other zinnias.
Others have formally recognized this zinnia for being a tough little plant. In researching this article, I found that the 'Swizzle' series was named as part of the Prairie Star Collection© by Kansas State University Research and Extension. Plants that earn this title have performed well in two-year trials conducted by University horticulturalists, where their ability to perform in the ever-changing Midwestern prairie climate is measured–they say they look for a "wow, look at those flowers" appearance, and I agree that 'Swizzle' series certainly has it.