Add Zinnias to your list of flowers to grow in your garden. These easy-care flowers are perfect for the beginner gardener and are so easy to grow! Plus they come in so many colorful varieties. Zinnias are a must-have for every cutting garden.
Zinnias: A Burst of Color and Benefits in Your Garden
Zinnias are one of the easiest annual flowers to grow in your garden. Not only are they great for the beginner gardener because they are simple to grow they are also one of the most colorful flowers to add to your garden!
Zinnias are celebrated for their ease of care, making them perfect for beginner gardeners. They thrive in most sunny spots, tolerate heat and even neglectful watering, and rarely succumb to pests or diseases. Plus, they sprout quickly from seed, often blooming within weeks!
But the real showstopper is their dazzling variety of colors that you can grow: from vivid reds, fiery oranges, sunshine yellows, cool purples, and even lime greens. The bloom sizes range from petite 2-inch charmers to whoppers like the ‘Benary Giant’ series of zinnias.
These beauties aren’t just eye candy; they also attract butterflies and bees to your garden, serve as long-lasting cut flowers, and are even deer-resistant.
A pack of zinnia seeds is just a few dollars, making them an affordable way to add a burst of color and benefits to your garden. Best of all, they’re easy to grow from seed, whether you start indoors early or sow directly outdoors in warmer months.
Zinnia Growing Guide
Best Growing Tips for Zinnias
When to plant
One thing to know about growing zinnias is they love to be warm. Zinnias prefer warm soil so it is worth your while to hold off on planting your seeds until your soil heats up to around 70°.
I live on zone 5b/6a line with the last frost day in mid-May and I hold off on putting my zinnia seeds in until the first week of June with fantastic results.
Check here for your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find out when it is safe to plant annuals in your area.
Best soil conditions for zinnias
Zinnias aren’t very fussy in general. In my raised garden beds I add a new layer of organic compost and organic fertilizer in the Spring before planting.
You want a well-draining bed to plant your zinnias, you don’t want them sitting in water.
While they’re remarkably adaptable, remember even forgiving zinnias have limits. Ensuring proper drainage will help prevent root rot. Don’t stress too much, though – even in less-than-perfect conditions, these cheerful blooms will likely reward you with a vibrant show!
While known for their drought tolerance, zinnias do appreciate consistent moisture, especially during their early stages of growth and during hot, dry spells. After planting seeds, I give the bed a good soak to ensure consistent moisture for germination.
Once seedlings emerge and establish themselves, natural rainfall often suffices.
However, this past summer’s exceptional heat and dryness in New Hampshire required occasional supplemental watering for all my garden beds, including the zinnias.
Here’s a helpful rule of thumb: water deeply and infrequently rather than frequent, shallow watering. This encourages deeper root growth, making plants more resilient to dry periods.
Aim for 1 inch of water per week, delivered either through rainfall or manual watering. Feel the soil with your fingers – if it’s dry 2-3 inches below the surface, it’s time to water. Avoid overwatering, as soggy soil can lead to root rot.
While zinnias are generally low-maintenance, they can succumb to a few common diseases.
Powdery mildew, characterized by white powdery spots on leaves, is the most frequent culprit. But keep an eye out for others like Alternaria blight (circular brown spots), bacterial leaf spot (watery brown lesions), and Botrytis blight (gray mold on flowers and stems).
Thankfully, prevention is key! Plant your zinnias with good spacing and air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and promptly remove infected leaves.
In my experience, focusing on these preventive measures has kept my zinnia beds healthy over the years. However, if you do encounter disease, consider organic fungicides or homemade remedies as options, always following label instructions carefully. Remember, a healthy garden starts with prevention
Although this seems counterintuitive a way to get fuller zinnias with more blooms is to do something called “pinching” the plant.
When the zinnia plant is around 12 inches tall you will want to take a pair of sharp, clean garden snips and cut off the stem right about a set of leaves. I know, I know…it feels wrong but it will lead to a better crop of zinnias for you!!!
Although you can start zinnia seeds indoors I personally don’t recommend it (this is my opinion). Unless you live in a very cold climate and want a head start on flowers then start them 4-6 weeks before your last frost.
The transplants are very temperamental and don’t always take when you plant them.
It’s much easier to plant the zinnia seeds once the soil warms up. I planted seeds on a Saturday and had some popping through in under a week!
Plant your zinnia seeds about a 1/4 inch down in the soil. The recommended distance between plants will be on the back of your seed packets.
I’m telling you right now that I don’t follow it and like to have very full garden beds.
Zinnia Varieties To Grow
There are a few different looks to zinnia flowers. Some have double blossoms, two-tone varieties, and a few with fluffy centers..so many different looks! They also are available in a wide variety of heights from 1 foot up to 4 feet tall.
I think it looks so pretty to grow a bunch of different colors and heights to create a cottage garden look and feel.
Here are some of the zinnias I have grown that I just love!
01. Queen Lime Orange
The Queen Lime Orange has a limey-yellow center and beautiful coral orange petals. Such a fun flower to have in the garden!
I got my seeds from Floret Flowers. Their seed sale starts in January until they sell out. Sign up for their emails to be notified of the dates.
02. Cupcake Pink
Another fun and colorful addition to my zinnia beds. The pollinators love this one! This is a midsize variety of zinnia getting to about 3 feet tall when full grown.
This year I planted 2 different yellow dahlias. The soft buttery yellow of the Isabellina is so lovely. You can see that the bees loved resting between the petals for the night!
Seeds were from Select Seeds
04. benary’s giant lime
The bright lime yellow of these Bernary’s Giant Limes look magnificent in the zinnia bed next to the bright pinks and oranges of the surrounding zinnias. Some of my flowers are almost 3 inches wide!! Really a garden stunner!
You can get them at Select Seeds
05. benary’s giant salmon
This may be my favorite flower in my garden this year! I’ve taken about a million pictures of them so far this Summer! There is someting about how the color runs through the petals with different variations of salmon that I just am in love with!
Another pack of seeds that I bought on Select Seeds
06. Benary’s Giant Carmine
If you are looking for a bright pop of color you have to try the Benary’s Giant Carmine. Definitely a garden show off!
07. Queen Lime Blush
The Queen Lime Blush zinnias send up a variety of yellowy and pink flowers. Some of the flowers are double flowers but this one is just a single layer of petals.
You can order these seeds from Johnny’s Seeds
08. Jazzy Red Zinnia
The Jazzy Red zinnias are a Mexican zinnia and are much smaller and have compact flower heads. The flowers are only about and inch wide but are quite abundent. The plants themselves are under 18 inches tall. They are perfect for the front of a border or flower bed.
You can find Jazzy Red Zinnia Seeds at Select Seeds
09. Benary’s giant bright pink
The Benary’s Giant Bright Pink is just a gorgeous flower!! It is perfect to use in a bouquet with all of the pretty petals!
My seeds were from Johnny’s Seeds
Once your zinnias start to flower make sure that you are deadheading the spent flowers but I encourage you to cut them and bring them inside to enjoy them! Cutting will encourage more blooms too.
If you want to start a cut flower garden but are not sure where to start then check out How to Start a Cutting Garden to see how I turned this patch of grass into this beautiful space! Can you believe this is only the second season of this garden?