Astronaut Nurses Zinnia to Full Bloom After Mold Invasion

International Space Station
Posted at 1:09 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 13:09:00-05

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The International Space Station is home to a new life form: a thriving zinnia with a beautiful orange-yellow bloom.

Space station commander Scott Kelly showed off his gardening results over the weekend. He posted photos of the flower on his Twitter account.

Last month, Kelly had to fight off mold that threatened to kill all the flowers in the space station's mini-greenhouse. Mission Control gave him free rein, and he managed to save some of the crop. Kelly says this type of autonomous gardening will be necessary during Mars expeditions.

The plant-growing experiment previously saw a bumper crop of red romaine lettuce. The space station crew got to sample a few leaves.

The zinnias aren't just for looks: NASA says they're a good precursor to tomato plants.