Found at the end of the alphabet and the last part of spring as it fades into summer, zinnias are the perfect flower for saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new. This brightly-colored and festive annual flower has a way of welcoming what’s to come while wishing a fond farewell to that which has come to pass. Long, green stems topped with the fiery orange, red, yellow or pink petals of this full-figured sunflower relative has a way of marking both time and place and will make a wonderful gift for graduates, teachers, new business owners and prodigal visitors who come and go in your life.
Native to Mexico and the southern parts of North America, the zinnia has come to represent daily remembrance and lasting affection in the traditional language of flowers. The zinnia was first imported to Europe in the 17th century, where it quickly became a popular garden flower for it’s tall stems that make it an excellent cut flower and its ability to withstand full sunlight. Since its introduction, over 100 different cultivars have been created. With colors ranging from bright golds to pastel pinks and even a pure, light green shade, the circular dome-shaped blooms last for a week or more and are a great alternative to gerber daisies or sunflowers if you are looking for something bright and cheery.
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The symbolic meaning of zinnias as the perfect flower to memorialize or remember a missing friend have made this bloom a great choice for holidays such as Memorial Day or goodbye parties. They look fantastic in a vase and give flower arrangements a more natural and rustic feel than gerber daisies or dahlias and add a wildflower look to any bouquet. The flower heads are often more than 3 inches across in diameter and will typically last for at least a week or more. Consider mixing them with soft stems of pink or purple stock or fluffy, blue delphiniums.
One additional advantage of buying this North American native is that they are often supplied by local growers in the summer and fall. Farmer’s markets and local stands are a great place to pick some up if you are looking to make buying fresh cut flowers even greener by supporting locally-sourced materials.