Craving vibrant blooms and buzzing bees? Grow show-stopping blooms with this beginner-friendly guide that shares easy tips for BIG, beautiful zinnias and a pollinator paradise in your backyard.

Forget finicky flowers that are a ton of work to grow. Zinnias are your low-maintenance ticket to a thriving and vibrant summer garden that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds in droves.

Follow this step-by-step guide for beginners that is guaranteed to bring you stunning and effortless zinnia flowers.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn 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.

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Essential Tips for Growing Healthy Zinnia Plants

If you want to add steady color to your garden all season long, look no further than zinnia plants. Zinnias are beautiful, easy-care, and colorful annual flowers that bloom all summer long and well into fall making them a favorite among gardeners of all skill levels.

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 super fun to grow! 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.

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 super easy to do too!

While they look amazing in the garden, zinnias are also wonderful cutting 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!

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 the zinnia flower is a rewarding experience that will add bright pops of color to your home or garden.

A quaint porch accented by the charm of pink zinnias, alliums, and a welcoming 'AUTUMN' cushion, embodying the warmth of the season

Top 5 Benefits of Growing Zinnias in Your Garden

Zinnia flowers are popular and attractive flowering annuals that are a must-have in any garden. Here are five reasons why you should grow them:

Effortlessly Growing Zinnias: A Beginner-Friendly Choice

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

The Stunning Beauty of Zinnia Flowers: A Visual Delight

To grow a zinnia is to love them 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 perched on the bright red bloom of a zinnia flower (senorita zinnias) with soft-focus background highlighting the natural environment and pollinator-friendly aspects of the garden

Enjoy Prolonged Blooming Periods with Zinnias

Zinnias produce a profusion of blooms throughout the growing season. The blooms begin in early to 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.

You’ll know when the plant is done for the season when it starts to get a powdery mildew on the foliage. This happens in my gardening zone 6a zinnias in about mid-September. They’ll still produce flowers though, so I keep cutting them until they are truly done for the year.

Zinnias: A Magnet for Pollinators in Your Garden

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!

Why Zinnias Are Perfect for Homemade 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 grow and cut for arrangements. Here’s why.

  • They come in a variety of sizes and colors
  • Have a long vase life
  • Easy to grow
  • They produce so many blooms all season long
  • Pollinators enjoy them
  • Simple to cut and arrange

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

A smiling gardener, Stacy Ling, in a straw hat lovingly tending to a vibrant garden of zinnias, showcasing the joy of horticulture

Comprehensive Guide to Cultivating Zinnias in Your Garden

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 zinnia care tips.

Choosing the Best Location for Zinnia Plants

When selecting a spot for your zinnias, it’s important to consider sunlight and air circulation. The zinnia flower prefers full sun, so choose a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of sun per day and areas with good air flow to prevent diseases like powdery mildew.

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. While zinnias are adaptable, a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is preferable. Amending the soil with compost before planting can significantly improve growth.

Soft peach zinnia flower called zinderella peach captured up close, with petals unfurling around a bright orange center, set against the lush green leaves of the garden.

Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Zinnias for Optimal Growth

While you can purchase full grown plants from the nursery, you’ll be a bit limited in variety so to me, it’s best to start them from seed.

When planting zinnia seeds, it’s a good idea to space them properly so you don’t have to thin them out as much later. Read your seed packet for specific spacing and row requirements because recommendations can vary depending on the zinnia variety. But in general, seeds are sown around ¼ inch deep. Common spacing ranges from 6-12 inches for dwarf varieties to 9-12 (sometimes a little more) inches for taller varieties.

Does this mean you can’t space them closer together? Of course you can. It’s your garden and you can do whatever you want. But if you want a little less work and give yourself a greater chance of avoiding powdery mildew later, I’d space your plants properly from the outset.

When to Plant Zinnias

As a flowering 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 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.

A captivating orange zinnia (queen lime orange) stands proud among the contrasting green foliage, showcasing the vivid colors of a summer garden.
Queen Lime Orange Zinnias

Watering Tips for Healthy Zinnia Plants

Zinnia flowers 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.

Vibrant zinnia flowers (seniorita zinnias) in full bloom, showcasing rich shades of red and pink, with lush green foliage in a garden setting, creating a vivid and colorful backdrop.
Senorita zinnias with pink flowers in the cottage garden

Fertilizing Your Zinnias: Best Practices and Recommendations

Zinnia flowers 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.

How to Pinch Zinnias to Promote Lush, Vibrant Blooms

Pinching off the top 3-4 inches of the stem when the plant reaches 8-12 inches tall encourages bushier growth and more blooms. It is not detrimental to your zinnias if you don’t do this, but there will be reduced flowering potential if you don’t.

Deadheading Zinnias to Extend Blooming Periods

To encourage more abundant blooms, deadhead spent zinnia 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.

A close-up of a bright pink zinnia with yellow stamen details in a lush garden setting, exuding a sense of fresh bloom and natural beauty. (Close up of Benary's Giant Wime Zimnia)
Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia

Staking Zinnia Flowers for Support and Aesthetics

Taller zinnia varieties may require staking to support their heavy stems. Stakes can be placed near the seedlings a few weeks after planting, taking care to avoid damaging the roots. I love to use these grow through hoops or trellis netting depending on the size of my zinnia garden.

I recommend doing it early because growth happens pretty quickly and before you know it, you’ve missed your window of opportunity to support them well.

While you can corral them in an area to help them keep each other upright, staking them this way increases your chances of reducing air flower and encouraging more problems like powdery mildew on them. If you choose to corral them, keep spacing in mind so you can keep your zinnia plants healthy all season long.

A vibrant garden scene with a prominent pink zinnias in full bloom surrounded by lush green foliage.
Hand bouquet of Queen Lime with Blush zinnia flowers

Managing Pests and Diseases in Zinnia Gardens

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 if you space them properly and fertilize them well.

This year, I’m using 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.

At the end of the growing season, zinnias typically start getting powdery mildew on the foliage as they wrap it up. There’s nothing you can do about it so don’t treat the plants with anything. Just enjoy the rest of the growing season with them and start looking ahead to next year.

To learn more organic ways to care for your flower garden, follow these tips.

A dynamic garden view showcasing tall zinnias with a variety of pink shades, set against the verdant backdrop of a well-tended garden
Zinnia flowers in the cottage garden

Step-by-Step Guide to Sowing Zinnia Seeds Successfully

Seeding zinnias 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 they are worth growing from seed if you are up to it.

Planting zinnia seeds is super simple to do. 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.

If you are not sure when to plant zinnia seeds, you’ll need to know your last frost date and count about 4-6 weeks before.

Soft peach zinnia flowers captured up close, with petals unfurling around a bright orange center, set against the lush green leaves of the garden.
‘Zinderella Peach’

Essential Seed Starting Supplies for Zinnias

How to Successfully Start Zinnias Indoors from Seeds

  • 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.
A cheerful scene of a flower arrangement with a swallowtaiil butterflip sipping nectar on a glass table, featuring a mix of pink, yellow, and orange zinnias in a white textured vase, with outdoor patio furniture in the background.

Best Practices for Harvesting Your Zinnia 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 cutting flowers in this post below.)

How to Collect and Store Zinnia Seeds for Next Season

Harvesting zinnia seeds is a fun and rewarding process that lets you enjoy your beautiful blooms for years to come if you save and store the seeds properly. Not to mention that harvesting zinnia seeds is a great way to save money and be more self-sufficient in with your gardening too.

So if you want to save some money from buying fresh seeds every year, you can easily learn how to harvest zinnia seeds in a few simple steps.

Here’s how to do it!

Timing of Harvesting Zinnia Seeds

When harvesting zinnia seeds, the timing is critical. Wait until the flowers fade and the seed heads begin to dry and turn brown. You can gently crack open a seed head to check inside. The seeds should be dark brown and hard, not plump and white.

A stunning array of zinnias and other flowers in vibrant shades of pink, green, and yellow, showcasing the variety in a garden
Queen Lime with Blush Zinnia and other vibrant Zinnia Flowers

Guide to Harvesting Zinnia Seeds Effectively

  1. Cut the seed heads: Use sharp scissors, garden snips, or pruners to cut the seed heads about 2 inches below the head. Place them in a paper bag or envelope to dry further. This helps prevent seeds from scattering as they mature.
  2. Dry the seed heads: Store the bag or envelope in a cool, dry place for 2-4 weeks. Or if it’s easier, you can hang them upside down.
  3. Extract the seeds: Once the seed heads are fully dry, gently rub them between your fingers or break them apart to release the seeds. You can also shake the bag or envelope over a container.
  4. Clean the seeds: The released seeds will be mixed with chaff (brown petal bits). You can winnow the seeds by blowing gently on them. The lighter chaff will blow away, leaving the heavier seeds behind. You can also pick out any remaining chaff by hand.

Quick Tips for Harvesting and Storing Zinnia Seeds

Store the cleaned seeds in airtight containers, labeled with the variety and harvest date. Keep them in a cool, dark place like a pantry or refrigerator. Zinnia seeds can remain viable for 3-5 years.

I have been storing mine in a small file cabinet in my library that has worked well for short-term storage. For longer term storage, I store my zinnia seeds in the refrigerator.

Harvesting and Storing Zinnia Seeds Quick Tips

  • If you have multiple zinnia varieties, harvest and store their seeds separately to avoid cross-pollination and preserve their distinctive features.
  • Save seeds from your healthiest and most beautiful zinnias to ensure good genetics for future generations. Do not preserve seeds from plants that had pest or disease problems.
A beautiful contrast of bright pink and lime green zinnias, with a detailed view of the unique patterns on the petals. Picture is of Different types of zinnia flowers: Benary's Giant Wine and Queen Lime with Blush
Zinna Flowers: Benary’s Giant Wine and Queen Lime with Blush

Maximizing the Beauty of Zinnias: Tips for Enjoying 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 at 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 they 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.
Hand holding a fresh bouquet of zinnias in peach and lime hues, with a softly blurred garden in the background, highlighting the flowers' freshness
Hand bouquet of Queen Lime with Blush zinnia flowers

Common Questions Answered About Growing Zinnias

Still have questions about growing zinnias this season? Read answers to some of the most common questions about growing zinnias.

Do Zinnias Come Back Every Year?

Those new to growing them sometimes wonder whether to consider zinnias annual or perennial. But, 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, some zinnia varieties are known to reseed themselves and return the following year. Such varieties include ‘Cut and Come Again’, ‘State Fair’, and ‘Persian Carpet’.

If you want your zinnias to come back year after year without needing to purchase more seeds, you can collect the seeds in the fall after the flowers fade 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.

A dynamic garden scene with red zinnias in full bloom in the foreground, complemented by white hydrangeas and various green plants, creating a diverse and colorful landscape. - Limelight Hydrangea with Benary Giant Wine Zinnia

What Month Do You Plant Zinnias?

When 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 seeding 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 passed 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.

A vibrant garden with a mix of zinnias and yellow black-eyed Susans against a backdrop of lush greenery and a wooden fence, with a pink zinnia standing prominently in the foreground.
‘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.

  • Pinch seedlings back when they are about 8-10 inches tall to encourage bushier branching. More branching = more blooms!
  • Deadhead regularly.
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Fertilize them.
  • Grow them in full sun.
  • Watch for pest or disease problems.
A hand holding a vibrant bouquet of fresh-cut zinnia flowers in pinks and yellows, with a lush garden landscape in the background.

Top Picks: My Favorite Varieties of Zinnias to Cultivate

Here are some of my favorite zinnia varieties to grow. I’ve got a few growing in the potager garden this season.

  • ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’
  • ‘Queen Lime Orange’
  • ‘Queen Lime with Blush’
  • ‘Senora’
  • ‘Oklahoma Salmon’
  • ‘Benary’s Giant Carmen Rose’
  • ‘Uproar Rose’
  • ‘Zinderella’
  • ‘Profusion’

For more information about growing zinnias see:

A cluster of hot pink zinnias standing tall in the garden, with a soft-focus on the surrounding greenery, illustrating the plant's growth and floriferous nature

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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A lush garden path lined with pink, orange, and yellow zinnias and black-eyed Susans, with a hint of a white picket fence in the background.

Garden Supplies I Use

Since I’ve been gardening for well over twenty-five years, I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. Here are some of my favorites that I use in no particular order.

dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

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05/09/2024 10:34 pm GMT

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

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Stacy Ling

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vintage thrift store find shutters with milk glass vase and fresh cut flowers from the garden
Fresh Cut Flower Arrangement From My Garden
close up of fresh cut zinnias from the garden in a milk glass vase
Seniorita Zinnias in New Jersey garden
‘Seniorita’ Zinnias
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Benary’s Giant Wine Zinnia with Rudbekia and limelight hydrangea
Close-up of a stunning pink zinnia flower with intricate petal details, highlighted against the contrasting greenery and a soft-focus background.
‘Seniorita’ Zinnia
Smiling gardner Stacy Ling in a straw hat and overalls cutting zinnia flowers in her lush 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?