I’ve mentioned before that I swear off annuals that frustrate me, but over time I forget what I didn’t like about them and then I try them again.
Zinnias like ‘Peppermint Stick” (above and below) and “Whirligig” have often given me sprouting problems. Well, they sprout okay but then the plants develop damping-off disease and wilt and die before I can ever get them outside.
About two years ago I read that putting a thin layer of chicken grit on the top of the soil-less growing mix can help prevent damping-off disease. I’ve tried it with all my tall zinnias, and it really does work, so it’s time to put ‘Peppermint Stick’ back into the rotation and see what happens.
‘Peppermint Stick’ grows 24 inches tall with splashy, stripey bi-colored flowers. You can start plants outside in spring after your last frost date or start them indoors about 4 week before (although then your plants could experience damping-off disease unless you use the magic chicken grit).
The flowers are great for cutting arrangements and they’re fun to photograph.
The best part is that these zinnias are cheap compared to most annuals these days. A package of 50 seeds costs less than 2 dollars!