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How to Grow Zinnias and Enjoy the Flowers

Looking to add a pop of color to your garden? Learn all about how to grow zinnias, plus tips for seed starting, prolonging bloom time, and enjoying them as cut flowers. From choosing the perfect varieties to creating beautiful arrangements, this post has everything you need to know.

If you want to add steady color to your garden all season long, look no further than zinnia plants.

They are easy-care, beautiful flowers that bloom all summer long and well into fall.

You can grow shorter varieties.

Tall varieties.

And some in between. The flower heads even range in size, not to mention color, and they are just fun to grow!

I started growing them years ago and they have become a staple in my garden. In fact, I start about 9-10 different varieties each year from seed. And speaking of which, starting zinnias from seed is easy to do too!

While they look amazing in the garden, zinnias are also wonderful cut flowers too.

If you aren’t growing them yet, this post will inspire you to try them this year. They are no fail and I know you’ll love them as much as I do!

Here’s what you need to know to grow and enjoy zinnias.

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About Growing Zinnia Plants

Zinnias are beautiful and colorful annual flowers that are easy to grow and care for, making them a favorite among gardeners of all skill levels.

With their colorful flowers in shades of gold, orange, pink, purple, red, variegated, and white, zinnias add a cheerful pop of color to any garden or landscape.

In addition to their stunning beauty, zinnias also make excellent cut flowers, adding an explosion of color and freshness to any indoor space.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a beginner, growing zinnias is a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature and add a touch of color to your home or garden.

white front porch rockers in fall with zinnias and alliums

How to Grow Zinnias

Native to South America, zinnias have a USDA hardiness zone of 3-10 and depending on the variety can bloom from spring through fall.

They range in height from 8 inches to 4 feet and about 6 inches to 1.5 feet wide.

Here are some tips for growing them.


Zinnias prefer full sun, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least six to eight hours of sun per day.

They also like well-drained soil that is moist and rich in organic matter. However, they can handle soil that is occasionally dry too.

Zinnias are not very finicky where soil pH is concerned either as they can grow in soil that is acidic, alkaline, and neutral.

close up of zinderella Zinnia

When to Plant

As an annual, zinnias can be planted directly in the ground after the last frost date in your area. They prefer warm soil, so wait until the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F (15.6°C) before planting.

To test the soil temperature, you can use a thermometer like this.

As an aside, soil thermometers are great to use if you like direct sowing seeds in the garden, so worth including in your arsenal of garden supplies.

Queen Lime Orange Zinnia in the Flower Patch. This is a cut flower garden favorite for me!
Queen Lime Orange Zinnias


Zinnias need regular watering, especially during hot, dry weather.

In general, water deeply once a week at the base of the plant in the early morning. You’ll need to water more often if there is excessive heat and the soil is dry to the touch.

A soaker hose like this is a great way to water plants from the base. And it’s even more helpful if you use it on a timer like this so watering your zinnia plants is set and forget for the most part.

And if you are growing zinnias in a planter, a drip irrigation system like this makes watering in summer a breeze.

'Senora' zinnias at sunset in the front porch cottage garden


Zinnias don’t require a lot of fertilizer, but a light application of a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) at planting time can help encourage healthy growth and blooming.

I feed my zinnia plants in late spring with a slow-release fertilizer so it is set and forget all season long.


To encourage zinnias to produce abundant blooms, deadhead spent flowers regularly. This will also help prevent the plants from going to seed too quickly.

While deadheading flowers might sound like a chore, it’s a peaceful time and provides the gardener with small moments of relaxation with their flowers.

Deadheading might be my favorite activity to do in the garden. You can use your fingers, a pair of scissors or garden snips like these.

Close up of Benary's Giant Wime Zimnia- 7 lessons I learned from growing a cut flower patch
Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia

Pest and Disease

Zinnias are relatively pest- and disease-resistant, but keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew or bacterial leaf spot.

Aside from some nibbles by our resident rabbits, I’ve been growing zinnias for years now and have noticed few if any problems with them.

This year, I’m going to use this deer repellent on my plants as it is supposed to help repel rabbits too. The repellent is systemic so it gets taken in by the plant instead of just being a topical application, but I’m curious to see its effectiveness with rabbits and other wildlife.

Harvesting Flowers

Zinnias are a staple in my cut flower garden as they are cut-and-come-again-type flowers. So the more you cut them, the more they will bloom all season long.

Harvest blooms when they are fully open and remove any foliage that will be below the water line in your vase. See more tips about cuttiing flowers below.

close up of seniorita zinnia
‘Carmine Roase’ Zinnia

5 Reasons You Should Grow Zinnias This Year

Zinnias are a popular and attractive annual flowers that are a must-have in any garden. Here are five reasons why you should grow them this year:

Easy to Grow

Zinnias are the easiest flowers to grow and care for, making them a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience.

They are tolerant of a wide range of soil and climate conditions and can be planted directly in the ground or in containers.

But they are not just easy to grow as plants, they are also super easy to start from seed too. If you are interested in dabbling with seed starting, I highly recommend beginning with something easy like zinnias, sunflowers, nasturtiums, or calendula.

Close up of benary giant wine zinnia, limelight hydrangea and rudbekia flowers -7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Flower Patch
Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia with Rudbekia and limelight hydrangea

Gorgeous Flowers

To grow a zinnia is to love a zinnia because you just can’t beat those beautiful and vibrant flowers!

Zinnias come in a wide range of colors, from bright pinks and oranges to soft pastels and whites. They have a unique, daisy-like shape that is eye-catching and attractive, making them a popular choice for garden beds, borders, and containers.

Zinnias not only look good in the garden, but they also make great cut flowers for arrangements that can be used in your home.

Swallowtail butterfly on a Seniorita Zinnia

Long-Lasting Blooms

Zinnias produce a profusion of blooms throughout the growing season. The blooms begin in early-midsummer and last well into fall.

And with regular deadheading, the blooms can last for weeks. This makes them a great choice for cut flower arrangements, as well as for adding color and interest to your garden.

Attracts Pollinators

Zinnias are a great source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. I’ve noticed loads of butterflies dropping by my zinnia flowers often.

And last year while setting my outdoor dining table for a garden party, one landed right on my centerpiece with fresh cut zinnias from the garden.

It was so fun to see that!

close up of fresh cut zinnias from the garden in a milk glass vase

Cut Flowers for Bouquets

What I love most about zinnias, is that they look amazing both in the garden and a bouquet.

Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers to cut for arrangements as they come in a variety of sizes and colors.

And they look so pretty with other flowers like celosia, hydrangeas, dahlias, sedum, snapdragons, and many more.

Gardener stacy ling Cutting zinnias - Cut flower gardening is so fun! Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling
Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners

How to Start Zinnia Flowers from Seed

Starting zinnias from seed is a cost-effective and rewarding way to grow these beautiful flowers, as well as get a head start on the season.

You’ll have greater access to the many varieties of zinnias available, so worth growing from seed if you are up to it.

They are simple to start from seed too. And the best part? You can start them both inside or out. If you choose to start them outdoors, wait until after your last frost date.

Zinerella peach zinnias close up
‘Zinderella Peach’

Here are the steps to start zinnias from seed indoors:

  • Zinnias can be started indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost in your locality. Use a seed starting tray or small pots with drainage holes filled with a quality organic seed starter mix that is pre-moistened. I start mine under grow lights and have found great success starting them in both my basement and sunroom.
  • Make a small hole then sow the seeds then lightly cover them with vermiculite. Sow only one variety per cell tray as the different plants will germinate at different times.
  • Cover seed trays with a clear dome and move them under the grow lights on a heat mat to speed up germination. They typically germinate within a few days to a week.
  • Remove the cover when the seeds start to germinate. It’s OK if they didn’t all germinate, more will grow after the cover is removed.
  • Keep soil moist by bottom watering only.
  • Before transplanting zinnia seedlings outdoors, harden them off by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over a period of 14 days.
  • When seedlings are hardened off and ready to plant in the garden, space zinnia transplants about 9 inches apart after the last frost date.
  • Water young plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Feed with an organic fish fertilizer for a few weeks and then use a slow-release fertilizer so feeding them is set-and-forget. This will help promote healthy growth and lots of blooms.
swallowtail butterfly enjoying the nectar from the Seniorita Ziinias in this garden party centerpiece idea for the dining table

How to Enjoy Zinnias From Your Cut Flower Garden

Zinnias are beautiful and long-lasting cut flowers that can brighten up any room. To help prolong the flowers in a vase, here are some tips to follow.

  • Always start with a clean vase or floral foam
  • Prepare each flower for the arrangement. If you are cutting your own flowers, start with the freshest flowers you can find. Look for flowers that are just starting to open, with sturdy stems and bright, vibrant colors.
  • Cut the stems on a 45-degree angle using sharp garden snips or scissors. Cut the stems early in the morning when the plants are still cool and hydrated.
  • Remove any leaves or thorns from the lower part of the stems that will be submerged in water. This will help prevent bacteria growth and keep the water clean.
  • Immediately after cutting, place the stems in a vase filled with clean, lukewarm water. And allow them to sit for a few hours so the acclimate to life in a vase.
  • Re-cut stems on an angle and arrange flowers in a second vase with room temperature water.
  • Add flower food to the water to help extend the life of the flowers. Alternatively, you can make your own flower food by mixing a quart of water with 2 crushed aspirins, a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of bleach.
  • Keep flowers in a cool shady spot that is away from direct sunlight and drafts.
vintage thrift store find shutters with milk glass vase and fresh cut flowers from the garden
Fresh Cut Flower Arrangement From My Garden

Do Zinnias Come Back Every Year?

Zinnias are typically grown as annuals, meaning that they complete their life cycle in one growing season and do not come back the following year.

However, there are some zinnia varieties that can reseed themselves and return the following year. These varieties include ‘Cut and Come Again’, ‘State Fair’, and ‘Persian Carpet’.

If you want your zinnias to come back year after year, you can collect the seeds in the fall after the flowers have faded and store them in a cool, dry place until the following spring.

Then, sow the seeds indoors or direct sow them in the garden once the weather has warmed up and the danger of frost has passed.

Limelight Hydrangea with Benary Giant Wine Zinnia

What Month Do You Plant Zinnias?

The best time to plant zinnias depends on your climate and hardiness zone.

In general, zinnias are warm-season annuals that are planted after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. In most regions, this means planting zinnias in the spring or early summer.

If you live in a cooler climate, you can start zinnias indoors in early spring and transplant them outdoors once the weather warms up.

I garden in zone 6a, so I like to start my zinnia seed indoors so I can transplant them after all danger of frost has past which is usually mid-May. If I decide to plant them a little earlier, I watch the weather like a hawk in case we get a frost.

To determine the best time to plant zinnias in your specific region, consult with your local cooperative extension service or other local gardeners for advice.

7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Flower Patch Garden with a bunch of queen lime orange zinnias
‘Queen Lime Orange’

How Do You Keep Zinnias Blooming?

Zinnias are relatively easy to care for, but there are a few things you can do to keep them looking amazing and continually blooming throughout the growing season.

  • Deadhead regularly.
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Fertilize them.
  • Grow them in full sun.
  • Watch for pest or disease problems.
Seniorita Zinnias in New Jersey garden
‘Seniorita’ Zinnias

My Favorite Flowers to Grow

Here are some of my favorite zinnia varieties to grow.

  • ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’
  • ‘Queen Lime Orange’
  • ‘Senora’
  • ‘Oklahoma Salmon’
  • ‘Benary’s Giant Carmen Rose’
  • ‘Uproar’
  • ‘Zinderella’
  • ‘Profusion’
Zinnias and roses in cottage garden -garden nj with zinnias

More About Growing Zinnias

Do you grow zinnias in your garden? What are your favorite varieties? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

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Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites listed in no particular order.

Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons

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close up of pink and yellow zinnias
close up of tulip 'creme upstar'

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Early Spring Garden Tour 2023

Looking for planting ideas and garden inspiration? Grab a cup of tea, coffee, or whatever you like, and come tour the gardens with me where you’ll see what’s blooming now and learn what’s to come. If you’re seeking planting ideas and in need of some garden inspiration, look no further! My early spring garden tour…
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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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  1. Stacy, I love zinnias in my cutting garden and always grow,some favorites from seed. Last year I started them in a raised bed where they were going to stay. Doing fine with great germination and then one morning I went out to check them and almost all were gone or chewed on. The culprit was little slugs! What can I do to avoid this happening again?