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Growing Zinnias

Category Annuals
These annual flowers originally grew as wildflowers. This guide is about growing zinnias.
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Solutions

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By 2 found this helpful
March 13, 2006

Botanical Name:

Zinnia

Life Cycle:

annual

Planting Time:

spring

Height:

6" to 4'

Exposure:

full sun

Soil:

average to rich, well-drained soil
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Hardiness:

n/a

Bloom Time:

early summer to early fall

Flower:

variety of bright colors including yellow, orange, fuchsia, red, white and pink

Foliage:

green

Propagation:

seeds

Suggested Use:

beds, borders, cut flowers, mass plantings, containers, and fillers

Growing Hints:

Sow seeds directly outdoors where you want them to grow as soon as soil has warmed up, or start seeds indoors 6 weeks before your last frost date. If starting indoors, sow seeds into individual peat pots (3" pots for tall varieties) to reduce root disturbance during transplanting. Transplant seedlings outdoors when temperatures stay above 50º F in 4 to 12 inch intervals depending on variety. Taller varieties may need to be staked.

Interesting Facts:

Now one of the most popular bedding plants, zinnias were originally grown as wildflowers native to the southwest United States, Mexico and Central America. They also attract butterflies.
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Comment Was this helpful? 2

By 1 found this helpful
May 8, 2011

Few annuals look as cheerful and appealing in the garden as Zinnia flowers. They come in a wide range of sizes and forms; from single-stemmed upright, cut-flower types to multi-stemmed, multi-flowered border plants. Zinnias' daisy-like flowers may be single, semi-double, or double (the largest are nearly 6 inches across) and come in nearly every shade of the rainbow but blue.
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Useful Facts

Bloom time: Summer through early fall. Flower color: Varies by species; a wide range of pinks, reds, oranges, whites, purples, green, and yellow.
Hardiness: Half-hardy annual.
Height: 4 to 48 inches.
Light preference: Full sun.
Soil preference: Nutrient-rich, well drained soil.
Spread: 10 to 24 inches.
Staking: The tall strong stems usually do not require staking.
Uses: Container planting, cut-flower garden, edging, mass planting, meadow garden, mixed border; attracting butterflies.

Growing Tips

Planting Outdoors: Zinnias are one of the easiest annual flowers to grow. Once the weather warms up, choose a site where there's full sun and well-drained soil. Loosen the soil and plant seeds 2 to 3 inches apart, in rows spaced 12 inches apart. Cover the seeds with 1/2 inch of soil and water. In as little as 6 weeks your plants will have reached their blooming size.
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Starting Indoors: Zinnia seeds can also be started indoors 4 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep in individual peat pots. Most will germinate in as little as 4 to 5 days. Keep the seedlings warm (70 degrees F to 85 degrees F ) and moist and provide them with a strong light source until transplanting them outdoors. Don't be in a rush to put zinnias outside. Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the weather warms up. After hardening them off, plant the peat pots directly into the ground to avoid disturbing their roots.

Purchased Seedlings: Nurseries and garden centers often sell zinnias in cell packs. If you buy them, buy them early. Once they reach flowering size they don't transplant as well. Pinch them back by 1/3 at planting time to help reduce transplant shock.

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Cut and Come Again

All varieties of zinnia respond well to cutting, and the stems and flowers hold up well in water. This includes the old-fashioned variety "Cut and Come Again" (Zinnia pumila), which is named for its vigor and ability to produce blooms for months on end. Cutting fresh flowers and regular deadheading will encourage the plant to keep producing. For cut flower displays, choose buds that are just about to open and cut them early in the day. Plants that produce tall stems with few buds can be pinched back to encourage branching.

Preventing Powdery Mildew

Annuals are generally less prone to problems from pests and diseases than perennials, because they don't live as long. Unfortunately, powdery mildew can be a major problem for zinnias, especially in humid conditions. Here are some tips for prevention:

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Photos

Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.

By 5 found this helpful
July 23, 2011

Every year there are new joys even in the insects in my husband and I's vegetable garden, herb and flower garden.

The photo is of a brilliant colored Zinnia. I entitled it: Enjoying a snack.

By Tightwade

Red Zinnia

Comment Like this photo? 5

By 4 found this helpful
July 1, 2011

I was out in my yard and I saw the zinnias had popped out in all their colors! I like to plant these flowers, because they are so easy to admire. They are large and are outspoken in a visual way!

By Robin F. from TN

Comment Like this photo? 4

By 7 found this helpful
April 22, 2011

This is warm sunny afternoon out walking with my grandkids. I pack a camera always. This was the first year to plant zinnias, and I never knew the attraction they were to a butterfly.

By Donna

Comment Like this photo? 7

By 1 found this helpful
January 25, 2013

Photo Description
A zinnia catches the late summer sunshine.

Photo Location
My garden, Brimfield, IL.

Comment Like this photo? 1

September 6, 20070 found this helpful

Butterfly and Zinnia photo

By Sue from Garrettsville, OH

Butterfly and Zinnia

Comment Like this photo? Yes
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