Not sure what to plant in your garden? I can say one thing is for certain: zinnias are always a good idea. Why? Because there are so many different types of zinnias out there that you simply can’t go wrong! And that’s even if you already have other flowers and plants planted in your garden.
There are so many zinnia varieties out there that you are sure to find one to complement your other plants. Keep reading to learn about my favorite 7 different types of zinnias, and pick your favorite!
About Zinnia Varieties
Before diving into the different types of zinnias, let’s take a closer look at how these varieties can differentiate from each other.
Like most types of flowers, you have the commercialized cultivated varieties, and you have the ones that exist and multiply in the wild.
Most cultivated types of zinnias are related to the zinnia elegans. This wild flower originates in Mexico. It grows big beautiful flower heads with colorful petals, and black and yellow discs.
It’s actually a bit difficult to find the original flower in the wild now. That’s because it has bred with other flower species and gotten away from the controlled environments of cultivars.
Other cultivated types of zinnias are related to the zinnia angustifolia, also known as the narrow leafed zinnia. These flowers are smaller than the zinnia elegans. Their petals grow either orange, white, or yellow.
The nice thing about this type of zinnia is that its drought and heat resistant, which is a quality treasured by hot-weather gardeners all over the world.
An easy guiding factor to tell the difference between types of zinnias is the shape of their flowerhead. There is so much variety out there! Zinnia flowers can have single, semi-double, or double flower petals. These differentiators regard the number of rows of petals around the central disk.
Though we often think of beautiful flowers as those with many colorful petals, it is actually the ones with just one row of petals (single flowers) that bring more pollinators to your garden. That’s because it’s easier for bees and butterflies to reach the pollen!
Size and Color
Perhaps the most obvious differentiator between types of zinnias is the plant’s color and size.
I think at this point you’ve guessed that zinnias come in dozens and dozens of colors from all parts of the rainbow. Though reds, yellows, oranges, and pinks are the most typical colors, you might even spot some whites, blues, and even multi-colored petals!
And, did you know that some giant zinnia varieties can grow as tall as four feet? What’s even more impressive is that this giant flower is still a close relative to its tiny dwarf cousins, who only grow half a foot in height! What a great big diverse flower family.
This means that there is a zinnia variety out there for all your gardening needs, whether you’re starting a flower bed from scratch, or need to fill a gap, no matter what size.
7 Types of Zinnias
Now let’s finally dive into my favorite types of zinnias, presented below in alphabetical order.
1. Benary’s Giant Zinnias
Benary’s Giant Zinnias are a superstar variety perfect for bouquets of every type. Why? To grow so big (about four feet tall!), these giant zinnias need to grow long, sturdy stems in order to sustain its own weight.
And that’s exactly what makes them perfect for any type of flower arrangement. They’re even mentioned by the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers!
In addition to how well they lend themselves to bouquets, Benary’s Giant Zinnias have a dahlia-like double bloom, which can grow up to a diameter of 6 inches across. And as if it couldn’t get any better, they’re also heat and powdery mildew resistant!
Benary’s Giant Zinnias mature in between two and a half and three months. And if you’re looking for a really creative flower, you should look for the ones with multicolored petals!
2. Big Red Zinnia
The Big Red Zinnia is one of those zinnias that descends from the original elegans zinnia cultivar.
This type of zinnia blooms really quickly (usually in just over a month after germination!) and features three-foot-tall stems, six-inch wide flower heads, and a plant spread of about a foot. Like the Benary’s Giant Zinnias, the Big Red Zinnia are dahlia-type flowers
A fun fact about the Big Red Zinnias is that their colors change with time, eventually turning into a shade of orange.
These big zinnias are also great options if you’re looking to grow flowers for bouquets and picked-flower decorations.
These seeds are tough to track down, but if you can’t find any, you can get similar large red zinnias from Hoss Tools!
3. Cactus Flowered Zinnia
The Cactus Flowered Zinnia might be the funkiest type of zinnia out there. So is the Cactus Flowered Mix a flower, or a cactus?
Rest assured that the Cactus Flowered is a type of zinnia, and only includes “cactus” in its name because of its long, seemingly pointed petals. They are often compared to the shapes of quills, and they curl in a way that looks almost tubular.
Another fun fact about this type of zinnia is that it’s old! It was first commercialized in the 1920s, and has been sought-after ever since.
The Cactus Flowered Zinnia is also related to the original zinnia elegans, but unlike its giant cousin, it usually grows less than three feet tall. But similarly to its giant cousins, it is also known as a great cut flower.
You can expect many shades of brilliant colors during its 10-week blooming period, including orange, yellow, pink, bright reds, and white, and for it to grow pretty wide. Some have a spread of eighteen inches.
4. California Giant Zinnia
Here comes another giant type of zinnia! Can you tell that I like big flowers?
Like the Benary’s Giant Zinnias, the California Giant Zinnia can also grow up to four feet, and is yes another popular choice for flower arrangements because of its beautiful colors, large flower heads, and sturdy branches.
No bouquet is too big for the California Giant Zinnia! Also like the Benary’s Giant Zinnia, it flowers 75 to 90 days after germination. On the other hand, the California Giant Zinnia is similar to the Cactus Flowered Zinnia too because it’s a historic type of zinnia (also from the 1920s!).
5. Double Zahara Cherry Zinnia
The Double Zahara Cherry Zinnia is quite literally an award-winning type of zinnia. Why? It was an All-America Selections bedding plant winner just a little over a decade ago, and its winning qualities are still there.
Named for its red-fuchsia color and double row of petals, it’s an especially beloved variety because of its long and productive blooming season. This type of zinnia will grace your backyard throughout the entire summer and fall!
Plus, it’s also a great option for gardeners who don’t actually have space for a garden. The Double Zahara Cherry Zinnia doesn’t need much water and it remains a relatively small and compact plant at 14 inches tall, with flowerheads of around 2.5 inches wide to match.
Like most types of Zinnias, this variety is also available in a whole rainbow of colors.
6. Early Wonder Zinnia
This type of Zinnia might (but shouldn’t) be confused with the similar Queen Red Lime zinnia variety. But while the Queen Red Lime Zinnia has gradient-colored petals, the petals of Early Wonder Zinnias (they really do have fabulous names) bloom in a gradient of colors.
That means that the petals closest to the flowerhead’s central disk are usually a deeper pink or red hue, while the ones in the wider layers of petals are progressively lighter in shade. And as if the flower couldn’t get any more colorful, the smallest petals at the very center of the flowerhead are usually yellow.
Maxing out at about 30 inches tall, the Early Wonder Zinnia is also a shorter type of zinnia, while still not falling in the dwarf category. Perhaps because of this, some gardeners have strong feelings about the Early Wonder Zinnia being the perfect plant for the front and middle of anyone’s garden.
It’s difficult to find these seeds, but you may be able to track them down at your local garden store.
7. Jazzy Mix Zinnia
Are you tired of these wonderfully creative names yet? I think they never get old!
The Jazzy Mix Zinnia is a medium-height type of zinnia (compared to its giant cousins) that grows up to two feet tall and blooms small flowers in a variety of different colors including yellow, white, and various shades of reds, oranges, and browns.
Because of these colors, it’s a favorite for fall gardens (but remember to plant them in earlier warm weather!).
Though it’s shorter than the other types of zinnias that I cited as being perfect for bouquets, the Jazzy Mix Zinnia is actually also beloved for how well its picked flowers behave in bouquets.
Go Grow Different Types of Zinnias!
I hope this post has inspired you to continue learning about different types of zinnias. As you’ve learned here, zinnias are a wildly diverse flower family whose cultivation for gardens and bouquets date back to at least over a century ago.
No matter what colored and sized flowers you’re already growing in your garden, I promise you that there is type of zinnia out there that can fit your need. From giant zinnias to dwarf zinnias, each and every one of them is beautiful and colorful in its own right.
Interested in more zinnia content? Visit my zinnia page for more growing tips, care guides, bouquet suggestions, and more!
- About the Author
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Margherita Bassi is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. She grew up between the US and Europe, and nurtured her love for nature and the outdoors in both countries.
In the US, she went on dozens of RV trips with her family, scouted out the best restaurants in every city she visited, and learned how to grow herbs and veggies of all kinds by watching her mother.
In Europe, she experimented with gardening in small spaces, like the small balcony of her apartment in France. With an MA in International New Media Journalism, Margherita is also a skilled researcher in a wide range of topics, and has extensive experience interviewing both individuals and experts.