We’ve mentioned our fondness for Zinnias in our blog and content many times over the years. We enjoy this pretty flower so much we thought a full-blown article was long overdue. Zinnias are native to Mexico and as a result, it should be no surprise that they thrive in the hot weather associated with the summer months. Once they start blooming in midsummer they will dazzle your garden right up to the first frost in the fall.
Zinnias are easy to grow and come in a wide assortment of colors. The blooms come in every hue imaginable except for blue. You will also find that Zinnias come in many different heights and a variety of styles such as a single row with a visible center to numerous rows of petals with no visible centers. If you are looking for a tall flower for the rear of your garden bed, try giant Zinnias which can grow up to 4 feet tall. If you need a prolific bloomer for a container there is a Zinnia for that too. Try dwarf varieties such as the Profusion series that can be as short as 10-inches high. Zinnias are a real work-horse in the garden and there is always one variety that will fit any gardening plan you create.
While they are easy to find in your local garden center they also grow quickly when planted from seed. When growing Zinnias all you have to do is plant the seeds ¼-inch deep. Make sure the soil is well-draining and they can get lots of sunshine. They should start sprouting in about a week and once the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, thin them out, so they are approximately 6 to 18 inches apart. This gives them enough air circulation, which is very important to avoid fungus such as powdery mildew, which may be the Zinnias one Achilles heel. They do not need too much fertilizer either, just an occasional well-balanced fertilizer mix will do. Zinnias are an annual flower, so they will not come back each year, but did you know you can save the Zinnia seeds yourself? At the end of the growing season, allow the flowers to fade, pull the flower apart, and remove the seeds. You can also put an entire blossom full of seeds in an envelope. Be sure to store the seeds in a cool, dry place and you are all set for next year.
If you want to attract pollinators to your garden than Zinnias are a great choice to do that to. They attract pollinators just as much as they benefit from them. Their bright colorful flowers are a magnet for butterflies which are especially attracted to this plant and its nectar. Honeybees love them too! Just make sure you deadhead the flowers for more blooms or if this is a chore you prefer to avoid try a variety called Zahara that is self-cleaning.
If all of these characteristics are not enough, Zinnias are a great companion plant for the vegetable garden as well. They attract bees to the garden that help improve pollination for vegetables such as Zucchini and they also draw beneficial insects such as ladybugs and wasps. Zinnias deter cucumber beetles and tomato worms and Hummingbirds find Zinnias appealing and they can eat lots of whiteflies before they can damage Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Potatoes.
Finally, Zinnias not only make beautiful border plants they also look great in a floral arrangement. They have long stems that make them ideal for cut flowers and they last a long time. In order to have an ample supply of blooms for the entire growing season, plant Zinnias every few weeks for several months. Cut Zinnia stems at an angle just above a bud joint and strip the stems of all the visible leaves before placing them in water.
In the hot summer, you will be happy you selected Zinnias for your garden since they are low-maintenance, heat and drought tolerant, and provide an exceptional range of color.
Photo courtesy of Jill Mazur.