Tracing their origins to the same roots as Sunflowers and Asters, Zinnias are a gorgeous favorite among gardeners. They’re great for adding a pop of color anywhere you plant them. And with the knowledge of proper Zinnia care, you can enjoy a riot of herbaceous beauty in your garden or landscaping!
Read on to learn the ins and outs of Zinnia care to ensure you make the most of choosing, planting, growing, and caring for these attractive flowers.
The Keys to Zinnia Care
Choosing Your Zinnias
Before you get started on the meat of learning Zinnia care, you want to choose your Zinnias wisely.
Standard Versus Dwarf Varieties—Which Should I Choose?
There are many different Zinnia varieties out there. Most are large and tall flowers with typically quite vivid blooms. However, some Zinnia flowers boast a more subtle color scheme, and there are even some dwarf varieties with shorter and smaller blooms.
If you have less space in your garden or landscaping to spare, you might want to consider a dwarf variety of Zinnia. It will be harder to maintain proper Zinnia care for large blooms if you lack the adequate space to spread them out! On the other hand, dwarf varieties can be planted closer together and will allow you to make the most of a smaller planting area.
Single, Semidouble, and Double Varieties—What’s the Difference?
The three standard Zinnia varieties are single, semidouble, and double, which refers to the number of petal rows on the flowerhead. Single-flowered zinnias contain a single row of petals with a visible flower center, while semidoubles have several petal rows and a visible flower center. Finally, double-flowered zinnias have many petals that obscure the center of the flower, giving almost a “puff-ball” appearance.
The Zinnia variety you choose among the three ultimately comes down to what you are looking for and what will go best in your landscaping, garden, or the bouquets and arrangements you may want to include them in.
Color Pattern Varieties
For subtler colors, you might prefer a Zinnia that is a softer shade, such as Unicorn, Isabellina, Polar Bear, or Queeny Lime Orange, or Sanvitalia Sunbini. For more assertive colors, you might choose a Zinnia variety such as Swizzle, Sunbloom, Double Zahara Cherry, or Benary’s Giant.
The good news is that Zinnia care will largely remain the same regardless of which variety you choose. However, it is important to note that because Zinnias need a lot of space, if you choose one of the larger blooms, that will affect the planting and growing aspect of your Zinnia care.
Planting Your Zinnias
The first key thing to know about Zinnia care is that these flowers are considered true annuals. This means that they do not regrow on their own each year, unlike some so-called annuals that actually act as perennials in warm weather and rebloom on their own. No matter where you live or how warm it gets, to kick off your Zinnia care, you will need to plant them anew each year.
You can begin the yearly process of Zinnia care by planting seeds or seedlings in the spring, when the weather starts to warm up. Luckily, Zinnia seeds do quite well in even difficult weather and growing conditions so long as they have exposure to full sun, which makes Zinnia care that much easier. This also means they can thrive in just about any soil type as long as it is well-drained, which is a huge bonus!
Because of their status as true annuals, however, optimal Zinnia care requires that the seeds or seedlings be planted outdoors only after the final threat of hard frost has passed. This typically means the soil will need to be consistently 60 degrees or above to allow proper germination.
You have the option of starting your Zinnia care process early by germinating seeds indoors. Just be sure to transplant the sprouted seedlings with extreme care when the time comes, and move them while young. An established Zinnia will not be happy being moved!
To start off outdoors, be sure to plant your Zinnia seeds or seedlings with adequate space between them. The smallest Zinnia varieties require no less than 6 inches of space in between them, while larger Zinnia varieties will need 12 to 18 inches of space in between them. This helps with airflow as well as a decreased risk of disease spreading among the plants.
It is advised to place 1 to 3 Zinnia seeds roughly ¼ of an inch deep in a single growing mound to encourage optimal germination. Then, you can pull out the weaker stalks as they reach about 3 inches in height, in order to help the strongest Zinnias survive.
Caring for Your Zinnias
Now comes the fun part—the meat and potatoes of Zinnia care! Knowing these facts will keep you informed on how to help your Zinnias thrive.
When choosing where to plant them, be sure to afford your Zinnias full sunlight! This is the biggest key to Zinnia care. These flowers can thrive in most types of soil and conditions but will do their best in full sunlight.
Another big factor in Zinnia care is how you go about watering them. Typically, Zinnias will not need any supplemental watering outside of dew and rainfall as they are a drought-resistant variety.
On the other hand, Zinnias are susceptible to certain diseases and their roots do not do well when overwatered. Thus, you will want to ensure the soil you plant them in is well draining and when possible, avoid watering them when tending to other flower varieties in your garden or landscape.
Feeding and Fertilizing
As it pertains to keeping your plants fed and fertile, this is a simple aspect of Zinnia care. Your plants will do well with an organic flower food every couple of weeks, and light fertilization to keep the pH balance optimized in the soil. Otherwise, no additional Zinnia care is needed in this area.
Now That You Know Zinnia Care – What’s Next?
There is a lot more to learn about Zinnias beyond Zinnia Care! For insight to help you choose the best variety, information on diseases and pests that can affect Zinnia plants, and much more, check out our Zinnia page.