Zinnia flowers are starting to grow in the International Space Station's Veggie facility as part of the VEG-01 investigation. Veggie provides lighting and nutrient supply for plants in the form of a low-cost growth chamber and planting "pillows” to provide nutrients for the root system. These plants appear larger than their ground-based counterparts and scientists expect buds to form on the larger plants soon.
The Veggie facility supports a variety of plant species that can be cultivated for educational outreach, fresh food and even recreation for crew members on long-duration missions. Previously, the facility has grown lettuce -- which was consumed by the crew earlier this year -- and now investigators are attempting to grow Zinnia flowers. Understanding how flowering plants grow in microgravity can be applied to growing other edible flowering plants, such as tomatoes.