Zinnias are probably the most underrated garden flowers. They come in a bunch of vibrant colors, they’re a cinch to grow, and they produce bountiful blooms all summer. And now is the perfect time to grow zinnias! Read on to learn about growing zinnias, and to see some of the most beautiful varieties available.
Why we Love Zinnias
There’s so much to love about zinnias. First is the rainbow of colors that you have to choose from: zinnias come in vibrant orange (see photo at top) yellow, pink, lavender, purple, red, or white. Zinnias also come in a variety of bloom types, including the intricate Zinnia Elegans (see photo above) which has beautiful, large blooms that boast an intricate ring of tiny yellow “flowers” at the center of each bloom. This flower truly lives up to its “elegant” name!
Zinnias aren’t just another pretty face, though—they’re also practical. Zinnias are a cinch to plant from seed, and they’re low-maintenance during the growing and blooming season. They are bountiful bloomers, so you can keep cutting as many blooms off as you want (they make lovely dried bouquets) and your zinnias will grow more. While zinnias prefer moist soil, they’re also moderately drought-tolerant, so they won’t die off if your area experiences a dry spell. The main issue that zinnias are sometimes prone to is fungal disease, so be sure to wet the soil and not the foliage when you water your zinnias.
Bonus: You and your family won’t be the only ones who will love your zinnias—butterflies and birds such as goldfinches are also drawn to these beautiful blooms. Enjoy the show!
When to plant Zinnias
It’s safe to plant zinnias after the last frost has passed, which is right about now for a large part of the country. All of May is a good time to plant zinnias in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 (central and southern Minnesota) through 8 (north and central Georgia). Folks who live in colder areas will need to wait a while longer until the danger of frost passes, and those who live further south can plant in April.
How to Plant Zinnias
Planting zinnias is a piece of cake. Just direct-sow the seeds ¼-inch deep into your flower garden after the last frost has passed. Seedlings should appear within 4 to 7 days. When the seedlings have reached about 3 inches high, thin them out until they are about 16 to 18 inches apart. This will give your zinnias plenty of air circulation so they can grow up healthy.
If you live in a colder area where you have to wait until June to plant, it’s best to start your zinnia seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Harden the seedlings off by setting them outside for a few hours a day for a week before transplanting them into your garden.
Choosing your Zinnias
There are so many zinnias out there, which to choose? Click here to see some of Rodale Organic Life’s favorite varieties, including some fungus-resistant types that are perfect if you live in a climate with damp nights.
Enjoy your zinnias!