I started these flowers from seeds sown directly into large pots. While it took awhile for the plants to grow and start flowering, it was an inexpensive way to fill some containers. (See The High Cost of Instant Gratification) And in my opinion, it was worth the wait.
I planted the cosmos variety Bright Lights because it’s one of the shorter varieties of cosmos. The nice thing about cosmos is that they require very little care and have few if any disease or insect problems. The only “problem” I noticed with these plants is that they needed to be dead headed regularly or there’ll be seeds everywhere. Also, I recently cut the plants back to about 6″ in the hopes of revitalizing them and getting another show of color for the fall. I was surprised to see how attractive these flowers are to bees; any flower that brings more bees to the garden is one that I’ll keep growing.
My favorite zinnias are the cactus varieties so I planted Cactus Hybrid zinnias from Jung seeds in a large pot. Since I knew these plants would get over 3′ tall, I added a support structure to the center of the pot. Once the plants started growing, I was amazed at how well they grew. The blossoms have been non-stop and they last for weeks on the plant. Also, it’s the beginning of September and the plants have no powdery mildew on them! It might have something to do with the variety or the weather but my guess is that because the plants are elevated and have good air circulation, the conditions just aren’t right for this fungus to grow.
The zinnias are getting a little out of control as the plants keep growing larger. I could cut them back but I know that their season is soon coming to an end; I’ll just let them grow as long as they can.
While it took some time for the show to begin, in the case of zinnias and cosmos, it was worth the wait. I’ll definitely be growing these in containers next year.