Uproar Rose zinnia, a stunner with the pollinators

Uproar Rose zinnia was the real stunner in The Garden Guy’s garden this summer when it came to both butterflies and hummingbirds and even now as we head into fall it’s still the champ. It’s amazing the 2009 winner of a cut-flower of the year would garner high pollinator accolades, too.

I wrote about this award-winning flower over a year ago but with a new town, and a new application I just had to tout it again based on my current findings. This year I went a little heavy, so to speak, on trying to attract hummingbirds to the garden, with Amistad salvia, Black and Bloom salvia, the new Mysty blue salvias and a bounty of cupheas. Uproar Rose zinnia was really to add splashes of pink shades to go with all of the violet and blue. I never dreamed they would delight the pollinators.

I knew they would bring in a butterfly or two but the daily ritual of the ruby-throated hummingbirds was simply amazing. You have to admit an annual zinnia that gives cut-flowers, brings in swallowtails and hummingbirds with abandon is pretty special. It is also easy to grow and is sure to get the children and grandchildren interested in gardening.

Uproar Rose is still a series of one, meaning there isn’t an Uproar Yellow Red or any others. The fact that ‘Uproar Rose’ is the only one — and is still around — is amazing. It is also really special that garden centers offer a cut-flower transplant for sale. Garden Centers are much more inclined to sell those that we consider landscape zinnias, like the Profusion, Zahara, Dreamland or Magellan series.

Unlike those shorter cousins, ‘Uproar Rose’ will give you a bounty of blossoms all summer. Their large, dahlia-like blooms are borne on 24- 30-inch stems. When spaced as recommended, they also show a good level of powdery mildew resistance.

While Florida and California can still plant most of us will be waiting until next spring. Though mine are still blooming in late September, we really can consider growing two crops, especially if we like to cut for the vase.

Whether you choose a package of ‘Uproar Rose’ zinnia seeds or get lucky enough to still find transplants, know that they prefer full sun to really put on a dazzling performance. This also aids in disease pressures.

Prepare beds by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and 2 pounds of a slow release 12-6-6 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. Direct-seed, or set out transplants that have little to no color showing.

Thin seedlings to around 6- to- 8 inches for the vigorous growth that is about to occur. My largest ones have about a 3-foot-wide spread, so you may really want a little wider spacing. Mulch when the seedlings are large enough or after setting out transplants. Side-dress the young plants in six to eight weeks with light applications of fertilizer.

Cut-flower growers should grow many of them in rows and with more of an agricultural look — after all, you will be cutting every day. If you don’t think people will buy cut zinnias, you should see the Saturday farmers market here in Columbus, Ga.

Uproar zinnias look like the quintessential cottage garden flower partnered with rudbeckias, coreopsis, Shasta daisies and of course the salvias mentioned above.

Whether you choose ‘Uproar Rose’ or another variety, zinnias offer the ultimate bang for your buck and ease of growing. You will ask yourself how you could have ever forgotten this beloved flower.


Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.

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