Ask me, and I’d have said there was no need to improve the several styles of zinnias we’ve already got. But plant breeders need a constant supply of plants to improve, and now there is the new pom-pom form ‘Candy Mix’ zinnia (parkseed.com) that grows to 30 inches (75 cm). This isn’t the old, well-loved ‘Candy Cane Mix’ zinnia with spotted petals, but a new double zinnia with a thick raised tuft at the centre, surrounded with a skirt of daisy-like flat petals. The tufts (short spiky petaloids) and surrounding petals are sometimes the same colour, but occasionally the tufts are contrasting colours (such as coral tufts with lilac petals).
These zinnias are extra fancy, and remind me of the new double echinacea cultivars with thick raised tufts, like ‘Raspberry Truffle’. I guess I’m not entirely enthusiastic about ‘Candy Mix’, although they are attractive and have all the bold colouring we love to see in zinnias. But I wonder why new hybrids sometimes hardly resemble the original plant?
The traditionalist in me is being challenged again. There have been double morning glories grown in Japan for some time, and more recently, one available in North America called ‘Sunrise Serenade’ with wavy red petals. This year the latest introduction is ‘Split Second’ (swallowtailgardenseeds.com), a fully double pink and white double morning glory that resembles a peony! It behaves like a morning glory in every respect, opening in early morning and closing in late afternoon, growing on short vines about five to six feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) in length — but is quite similar to a peony. It really is quite lovely, but I’m not ready for this yet. Maybe by spring the shock will have worn off.