The Q&A Archives: Avoid Wetting Zinnia Leaves

Question: In your Q&A?s I read ?For best results in summer, plant zinnias in well drained soil, space plants a foot apart, mulch well and avoid watering the leaves?. In the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Flower Gardening it says ?avoid wetting leaves?. I have a spot in my front yard that would be great for Zinnias but the lawn sprinkler will hit it. Would that harm them? This thing about not wetting the leaves is confusing. How is that different than rain falling on them?

Answer: Zinnia leaves are susceptible to powdery mildew. If you give plants plenty of sunshine, good air circulation between the plants, and avoid excessive moisture on the leaves, they aren't as likely to develop the disease. We can't control the rain, but we can try to keep the leaves dry by not intentionally sprinkling them when applying water. You can try growing zinnias where the sprinkler will get them wet, but you may end up providing the perfect environment for powdery mildew to attack them.

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