Part of the daisy family – yet distinctively different to its common counterpart – you can consider the zinnia the humble daisy’s cooler cousin. Their deciding difference? The bold colours that typify its petals. Long in stem and rich in pigment, their flowers burst out of the dry, central American grassland that is their native home. Its Pokemon-esque name was derived from Johann Gottfried Zinn – the German botanist who penned the rudimentary description of the flower – but a quick glance at the guy’s Wikipedia page suggests there is nothing remotely interesting about him so we won’t dwell on that…
…Instead, let’s focus on a claim to fame that arguably makes the zinnia the coolest FOTM to date. In January 2016, NASA announced that a zinnia had flourished upon the International Space Station – making it, they claimed, the first flower ever grown outside of the Earth’s biosphere. If that’s not out of this world, what is? From Shane Meadows-esque dioramas to the thought of a delicate daisy bobbing around in zero-gravity, a vibrant bloom amongst an infinite void: what a great little reminder of just how inspiring plant-life can be.
But truth be told, zinnia stems haven’t always been famed, not least for their striking beauty. When the Spanish first laid their eyes on the flower in Mexico – long before the stem was popular in horticulture – they called it “mal de ojos” a title that translates to “sickness of the eye” – a name that’s still used to describe the plant there today. Meanwhile, In Europe, zinnia became known as the “poorhouse flower” or “everybody’s flower” because they were so common and easy to grow!
Once known as “youth and old age” stems – because their old blooms stay fresh as their new blooms open – zinnia are now widely termed “cut and come again” flowers for their ability to sprout new stems with flower buds at speed, making them a firm favourite with gardeners and florists alike. Looking to send a bouquet to a special someone? According to the language of flowers, zinnias are symbolic of friendship, so there’s no better fit.