Planting and Growing Zinnia Flowers

Celebrate summer by planting a mix of zinnia flowers you can pick and plunk into vases.

Zinnia x  (02) Habit

Zinnia x (02) Habit

Zinnia x (02)

Embrace the beauty of a classic cottage flower: zinnia. This cutting garden favorite opens blossoms in nearly every shade. Lipstick pink, fire engine red, sunny yellow, cucumber green, perky peach — choose a color and you can find a zinnia to match. Bicolor blends bring sizzling beauty to the garden with two-tone petals.

But flower color isn’t the only choice you need to make when planting zinnias. Flower type brings more variety to the garden with simple single-petalled blooms and luxurious double flowers packed with petals. Look for blossoms that unfurl from 1 to even 6 inches across. Best of all, the carefree beauty of zinnias is yours to be had for the cost of a pack of seeds.

How to Grow Zinnia from Seed

Zinnia grows easily from seed sown directly into garden soil. All this bloomer needs to survive is well-drained soil with consistent moisture. If your soil is heavy clay, work organic matter into planting areas prior to sowing seeds. It’s also a good idea to add slow release fertilizer to planting beds. Work it in at the recommended rates on the package.

Wait until all danger of frost has passed before sowing zinnia seeds. These flowers are native to Mexico and can’t stand a chill. Plant zinnias in a spot with full sun, except in the hottest regions of the country. In these areas, zinnia plants thrive with light shade during the afternoon.

Zinnia Care

Once established, plants are fairly drought tolerant. Avoid overhead watering unless you can water plants early in the day. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation provide good watering options.

Zinnias are prone to several fungal diseases that attack leaves. These diseases tend to develop more quickly when leaves stay wet overnight. Having adequate air circulation also helps reduce disease. Plant zinnias according to recommended plant spacing on pot tags — don’t crowd plants.

With most zinnias, removing spent blooms encourages more flower buds to form. Some of the newer types, like Profusion, are self-cleaning and don’t need deadheading. Check plant tags to learn if your zinnia is self-cleaning.

Zinnias in Pots and Baskets

Tall cutting-type zinnias do best in planting beds. Look for smaller zinnias developed for use in pots, window boxes or even hanging baskets. Read plant tags carefully to make sure you’re buying the right zinnia for the use you have in mind.

Narrowleaf zinnias (Zinnia angustifolia) make a terrific edging in pots or planting beds. Cut and Come again zinnia (Zinnia pumila) grows to three feet tall and flowers best in planting beds.

Zinnia Varieties

Zinnia is an old-fashioned favorite with plenty of new offerings. Plant breeders have developed zinnias that capture the classic beauty in low-maintenance packages.

Profusion zinnias (Zinnia hybrida), for instance, bring several strong blossom shades, including rose, orange, white and bicolors. These zinnias don’t require deadheading, but toss open flowers all summer long.

Look for zinnia plants that bring a degree of disease resistance to the garden. Profusion zinnia and Zahara zinnia (Zinnia marylandica) offer good resistance, as do narrowleaf zinnia and Mexican zinnia (Zinnia haageana).

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