Zinnias: The Workhorse of Our Garden

Queeny Red Zinnia
Queeny Red Zinnia

When we started growing all our own plants from seed, we found so many choices of zinnias available to us. Each year we would try another variety of this annual and each year we have another “favourite “. Not only do we love them, but they are appreciated by the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Zinnias come from Mexico and since the 1700’s there has been numerous hybrids developed. Zinnias come in a kaleidoscope of colours and any where from 8 inches to 3.5 feet tall. They can be a single, double or semi-double bloom.

Zinnias are easy to grow and a great flower option for new gardener or even children. They can be planted directly or transplanted carefully as they don’t care for much root disturbance. Deadhead the plants and they will gift you with blooms all season. Cut flowers off above a set of leaves well below the flower to encourage more branching and flowers.

How To Grow
Zinnias should be planted in an area that gets 6-8 hours of sun. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep after all risk of frost passes. They should germinate in 5-20 days depending on growing conditions. Zinnias like moderately damp soil. 1 inch of water per week will keep them happy. Don’t overwater as some are susceptible to powdery mildew.

Once the plant has about three sets of true leaves pinch back to the first set of true leaves. This will slow up flower production, but will encourage a fuller plant with more flowers as your reward. Expect flowers 60 to 70 days from planting.

Zinnias can be started indoors 6-7 weeks before your last frost date. If started in peat pots or jiffy plugs, transplanting will not disturb the roots. My experience has been great with transplanting, with the exception of certain peach coloured zinnias. Disturbing their roots often causes the flower to give you single blooms versus double. For these I transplant a few and direct seed a few.

Here at Murlo we have grown several different varieties. For flower pots I would recommend Zahara or Profusion series. They will have blooms 2-2.5 inches on a plant of 12-18 inches.

If you are growing for bouquets a variety of bloom sizes is recommended. Oklahoma will provide you with 2 inch blooms and a bit of a pompon shape. They will grow to about 3 feet tall. Zinderella blooms have 2.5 inch blooms on a 24-36 inch plant. These make me think of a cupcake on a saucer.

The Queen series are a must for us. Antique shades of reds, oranges, pinks with beautiful tones of green mixed in. The blooms are 2-3.5 inches on a 24-36 inch plant.
These are amazing in arrangements.

For large blooms that are 4-6 inches Benary, Giant Dahlia or Elgan are a great choice. The plants are typically 3 feet high and can get 2 feet wide. We grow these for cut flowers and to fill spaces in the perennial border or to give it a punch of colour here and there.

Finally we grow a few Cactus varieties. Perhaps not a favourite for many, but I adore the Senora zinnia.

Whether you are planting pots, a border, growing a cutting garden, attracting pollinators or looking to add a punch of colour to your perennial border there is a zinnia for you. They truly are the workhorse of the garden.

Zinnia and the Bee

Where to Buy Seeds
Swallowtail Garden Seeds
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
T & T Seeds
Lindenberg Seeds