What to Plant in January

The following is a list of vegetables and herbs that  you can plant in January in Sydney, a temperate zone. Just click on the name for the growing guide for each vegetable or herb:

Plant of the Month – The cheery and colourful Zinnia

The colourful and butterfly attracting zinnia is part of the sunflower genus in the daisy family Asteraceae. It is a drought tolerant, warm weather annual that brings cheery colour to the garden and attracts beneficial insects and butterflies.

Zinnias originate in the warm climate of Mexico, and through the south central United States. Growing in dry grasslands, they are perfect for temperate climates with hot summers like Sydney.

Most of the varieties have upright stems ranging from 10 to 100 cm tall with opposing leaves that can be linear to ovate in shape.

The flowers range from single row of petals, to semi double and double forms and even dome shaped forms similar to dahlias. The beautiful zinnia comes in a range of colours: white, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, purple, or lilac.

Just click on the images on this post to view the zinnia in more detail.

Zinnias come in a variety of colours and forms.

The zinnia flower begins as a tightly closed bud.

Zinnias have a composite flowers that grow from 5 to 15 cm in diameter depending on the variety. As the flower opens and matures the colour develops and we can see the rows of outer petals (pink in the image below) and the open yellow disk florets. These are the true flowers. Below those are the unopened disk florets. As the flower ages the top florets die and the florets on the outside will open and flower too.

Click to see the detail of the florets in the flower.
The attractive double form of zinnia.

Site and Soil Requirements:

Select a site that that is protected from winds and has a soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. that is moist, fertile and well drained. Research shows that zinnias develop faster if the soil has been amended with well aged compost so dig through to the depth of a spade over the proposed site.

Light:

Zinnias grow best in full sun to flower well so bear that in mind when selecting your site. At planting time the soil temperature should be at least 15 C.

Propagation:

In spring after the last frost, sow the zinnia seeds directly into the soil at the growing site because they do not like to be transplanted.

Sow the seeds 1 cm deep and 8 cm apart. Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprouts. The seeds will germinate in 5-7 days.

As the plants grow thin out to a spacing of 30cm in each direction. Varieties of zinnia that grow more than 60cm tall will need 45 cm between the plants.

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage further flowering and pinch out side shoots if you want to encourage larger blooms.

Watering:

Zinnias can survive some drought conditions but do best with adequate watering. They need the soil to be moist to a depth of 15 cm every seven days or so. Check your soil according to the conditions in your area.

Watering deeply in this way encourages roots to grow deeper and contribute to more vigour in your zinnias.

Always water at the base to keep leaves to prevent fungal issues.

Beneficial Insects:

Zinnias attract pollinators and other beneficial insects making them perfect companion plants.

If you want to attract butterflies then grow the flatter single petal flowers that attract them.

Butterflies prefer the flatter forms of Zinnia
Zinnias and Cosmos growing in a wildflower meadow at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
In the Language of Flowers zinnias mean “Thoughts of absent friends”.

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