Magic zinnias

Blossoms that welcome warm weather
Sharon Cohoon

As a group, zinnias rank among the best-performing summer annuals. One of the toughest is Mexican zinnia (Z. haageana), whose small, narrow leaves help the plant tolerate hot, dry weather and desiccating wind. The Persian Carpet strain, shown here in all its multicolor glory, is said to be the most heat-tolerant zinnia of all. The petite (12- to 15-inch-tall) plant produces dahlia-like blooms in a range of bi-colors, including burgundy, chestnut, cream, gold, and orange.

Sow seeds in garden soil in late spring or early summer when the weather is warm.

INFO: Order Persian Carpet from Seeds of Change ( www.seedsofchange.com or 888/762-7333).