Zinnias are one of the easiest flowers to grow, as they grow quickly and bloom heavily. Zinnia flowers can create a massive burst of color in your garden, so consider trying them this year!
Zinnias are annuals, so they’ll grow for one season and produce seeds, but the original plant will not come back in subsequent years. They have bright, solitary, daisy-like flowerheads on a single, erect stem, which makes them great for use as a cutting flower or as food for butterflies.
There are three main kinds of zinnia flowers: single, semidouble, or double. The distinction between these forms comes from the number of rows of petals and whether or not the center of the flower is visible:
Single-flowered zinnias have a single row of petals and a visible center.
Double-flowered zinnias have numerous rows of petals and their centers are not visible.
Semidouble-flowered zinnias are somewhere in-between, with numerous rows of petals but visible centers.
In addition to these forms, zinnia flowers come in a number of shapes, including “beehive,” “button,” and “cactus.” There’s really a zinnia for every garden!
When to Plant Zinnias
It’s recommended that you grow zinnia from seed right in the garden bed, as they do not like to be transplanted as nursery plants and do not often thrive. From seed, they will grow very quickly in the right conditions.
Zinnias are sensitive to frost, so do not seed until the last frost has passed. See your local frost dates.
Zinnias can stand a minimum daytime temperature of about 60°F (16°C), though a range of 74–84°F (23–28°C) is preferred.
Sow a round of seeds every week or so for several weeks to extend the flowering period.
Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site
Choosing a location that gets full sun is essential.
Zinnias are adaptable, but the ideal soil is rich in organic matter and well-drained.
Soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.5. If soil is amended with compost, the flowers will grow more quickly. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
How to Plant Zinnias
Space plants 4 to 24 inches apart, depending on variety. (Many common varieties are planted 6 inches apart within the row and 2 feet in between rows.) See back of seed packet for variety-specific advice.
Sow zinnia seeds only ¼-inch deep.
You’ll see zinnia seedlings in only 4 to 7 days for most varieties.
When seedlings reach three inches tall, thin them so that they’re 6 to 18 inches apart to maximize air circulation. This reduces the chance of powdery mildew developing.
How to Care for Zinnias
After zinnias flower, cut off the old flowers (deadhead) to encourage more flowers to form.
Maintain moderate soil moisture and fertilize lightly.
Zinnias are annuals and will die with the first fall frost. If you want them to reseed, let the last flowers of the season mature fully and scatter their seeds.
Still not sold on zinnias? Here are six reasons to try them in your garden:
Bacterial and fungal spots, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt may affect zinnias. Minimize wetting of foliage and space plants properly to avoid disease.
Caterpillars, mealybugs, and spider mites also cause problems. Avoid spraying and tolerate some leaf damage unless the situation is uncontrolled.
Luckily, zinnias are deer-resistant, so they might help keep nearby flowers from being eaten.
Zinnias generally take 60 to 70 days from seed to flower (though it depends on conditions). They work great in a flower bouquet!
Get a full-size flower on a compact plant with cultivars of the Dreamland Series. Dwarf and compact, these zinnias have fully double flowerheads, up to 4 inches across in a wide color range; stems are 8–12 inches tall.
The Thumbelina Series cultivars are dwarf and spreading, with single or semi-double, weather-resistant flowerheads in many colors. Their petals are 1-¼ inch across and stems grow up to 6 inches long.
The State Fair Series are the biggest and tallest of them all, with large, double flowerheads that are 3 inches across. Stems grow to 30 inches tall.
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