Thursday, April 21, 2011

Zinnia the Good Companion (Seed Give-AwaY)

It is the first day of "Companion Week". I hope everyone will be willing to share their good and error combination of plants from your experiences in companion planting. Once upon a time, there were no nets and pesticide for gardener to use against those pests that every gardener corner in this earth have to battle with. Even potagers that designed to look pretty ornamental also must lean heavily on companion gardening. Sometime it is not easy to fully give this important role to good companions, we gardener always worry whether they will have 100% success on looking after the plants that we want to grow in good health and perfect form. However, companion planting is not only about reducing destructive pests. It is also about attracting insects that act as predator and pollinators, nursing plant back to health, increased plant yields, triggers more nutrient and oil increase in certain plants and many more benefits. You are welcome to link more than one post from your old or recent post.

This is the second year that we grow zinnia (lilliput mix) in our garden arranging them with edible plants. In the first year,I did not realised how important zinnia roles in sustaining healthy plants in our garden. We grew more zinnia in the first year, I had less problem with aphids. I start to appreciate this plant in the second season we grew them because I started to wander why are my okras infested with aphids. Although, zinnia has not been categorised in edible flowers, it plays a major role in attracting bees and predators.
Zinnia also help provide some shades to edible plants during very hot summer so that fruits won't get scorch by the sun. Our zinnia took the heat that it look really bad with all those burned leaves but at least okras and aubergines were saved. Zinnia are hardy, they bounce back and give us more blooms. Visit FishTail Cottage for Cottage Flora Thursdays.

We found that zinnia grows really well with the solanum (nighshade) family such as eggplant, capsicum and chili. As many okra experience grower will know that okra is easily attack by aphids. You will watch many ants on okra plants too during aphid infestion. Last summer, okra plants which are grown with zinnia did not have any aphids problem at all. But other okra were infested with aphids and I have to gather ladybirds to nurse those plants back to health.
Thank you to this predator that act as aphid vacuum cleaner, many of our okra and capsicum plants were saved. I will certainly grow zinnia again for my favourite aphid vacuum cleaner. Zinnia does not need that much space to grow and thrive very well without any tender loving care. They grow fast and give you bloom before those nightshade plant does. Zinnia help to camaflouge our vegetable plant in the front yard. It takes us two summers to understand the relationship of our zinnia and okra. Next summer, we will definitely plant okra and zinnia together.
We are collectiog zinnia seeds and would like to share this seeds and other seeds that we have collected this month~Bitter Gourd, Leaf Amaranth (Chinese Spinach) and Portulaca (Moss Rose). For this Seed Give-Away, 3 blogs which have link with "Companion Week" will be chosen randomly.


p3chandan said...

Lovely zinnias Diana! I didnt know zinnias are also pest controller just like marigold mentioned in Milka's post. I must this great idea on my veggies. Do you think they can chase away grasshoppers who have been making lots of holes on the veggies?

JGH said...

Good to know...I'm planting okra again this year - think I'll try some zinnia around them! I have seeds that I saved from last year. They're not hardy here, but last well into the season -- usually until frost! Thanks for the great tip.

Kelli said...

I like the idea of zinnias for companion planting. I used calendula and nasturtium last year as the petals are edible and can be used in salads. But the zinnias are lovely too; I might try them this year.

cikmanggis said...

masyallah.Jika tak baca blog Diana ni tak akan tau Zinnias (apa nama melayunya ya)dapat menjaga tanaman dari makhluk perosak.Bagus betul.Kena belajar banyak lagi ni.Bila pindah rumah baru akhir tahun nanti Cm nak pastikan menanam pokok2 bunga seperti ini.Thanks Diana

One said...

I remember your Zinnia didn't grow very well before but perhaps you were referring to a different type. This one is really nice. I have one like this but of a darker colour. I wonder if different colour flowers may be different in deterring pests. I have the cream colored Zinnia at one patch. I still see a lot of bugs in that patch.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

p3chandan~ Marigold are for nematodes but zinnia does not help in that way.I don't know about grasshoppers it is kind of a big insect unless you want zinnia to be a sacrificial plant. Not sure whether grasshopper like zinnias.I do know that grasshoppers really like to munch bean leaves.

JGH~Good Luck, I hope you have no aphid infestion with your okra this year.

Why I garden~I hope zinnias works well in you garden with those bright colours an attraction for predators.

CikManggis~Tukar-tukar selera bunga kekadang;-). Tak pasti namanya dalam bahasa melayu.

One~We had cold spring so they did not grow fast and big as previous spring. They are usually much more taller than the pictures taken.I think the brighter colour are more attractive to beckon predators or pollinators. I am not sure about deterring other pest because different place will have different environment and pest. It just that we found okra and zinnias growing together seems to control aphids.

TK said...

Zinnia is one of my favourite flowers. To me, it's so beautiful. Sebenarnya bunga2 kat Malaysia pun byk yg cantik2 tapi org tak berapa tanam bunga nowadays.

littlekarstar said...

Beautiful zinnias! Look at those lovely helpful bugs!

La Vie Quotidienne said...

I love Zinnias for their bloom and color but I had no idea that they were such good companion plants. Thank you for this information and thank you also for stopping by and paying me a visit. Have a great day!

Chloe m said...

Nature is very wise and we just need to listen to her instead of resorting to sprays. It is good that you are teaching people about companion planting. I didn't know about Zinnias, either. Good to know that something so pretty can be a tool as well!
Thanks for your comment on my blog. Hope you are doing fine.

kitchen flavours said...

Diana, I never knew about zinnias being a natural at keeping some pests away, and you are being very observant! A true gardener indeed! Thanks for sharing this tip and other useful advice. I'm always learning something from you! Have a great Easter Weekend!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

TK~ Oh sekarang trend apa pula tanam kat Malaysia?

Mrs Bok~ I hope you found your praying mantis back.

La Vie Quotidienne~We also just discovered zinnia potential as good companion plant.

Rosey~If we open our eyes and listen to what nature trying to teach us, we will be so surprise of new discovery. Each lesson learn will make us appreciate nature more. Thank you, I am taking one day at a time.

Kitchen Flavours~I guess I take them for granted when I did not know that they were actually making my garden much more healthy and cheerful. I only see the surface but not behind the working force.

Fishtail Cottage said... lovely (ladybugs and zinnia!) I need some ladybugs to visit my garden - i already see aphids on my roses.....xoox, tracie
thanks for linking up to Cottage Flora Thursday's!

Daphne Gould said...

I always let my cilantro bloom and not just for the seed. It attracts more beneficials to the garden than any other flower I've seen. I also always grow marigolds near my tomatoes to keep the nematodes at bay.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Tracie~I have always read that rose and garlic are good to plant together to protect rose from aphids but I have never tried it.

Daphne~Cilantro is my favourite plants to have in the garden as well in every stage of its growth, from leaves, flower and seeds.