How to plant zinnias?

Growing zinnias in your flower garden

Zinnias are one of the tried-and-true garden flowers recommended for even the most novice gardener. My first introduction to zinnias was from my earliest memory of gardening. There was always a row amongst the bush beans and tomatoes saved for zinnias. Zinnias are still my favorite annual flower and now they get a coveted spot next to my back deck so I can enjoy them while enjoying the summer weather.

Zinnias are easy to grow; they like full sun and well-drained soil. They can be transplanted or direct sown into the garden. If you choose to get an early start and plan to transplant, plant them in a peat pot that can be planted directly into the garden or planting bed, as not to disrupt the roots.

Zinnias come in a multitude of varieties. They can be dwarf to giant, ranging from 6 inches to over 4 feet. The flower heads come in a variety of shapes from single and double blooms, to spidery-shaped to domes.

The best thing is the fantastic range of colors. Zinnias are available from the faintest pastel to the most vibrant colors. They come striped, speckled, solid and multicolored.

To have blooms from early summer to frost, Michigan State University Extension suggests dead heading zinnias. Dead heading helps to promote the zinnias to keep preforming throughout the season. Nevertheless, zinnias get tired, so I recommend succession plantings of zinnias every two weeks. I plan succession plantings commencing in late May and continue through about the first week of July. This guarantees showy blooms through late September. It is not too late to plant a few zinnia seeds for late summer color that will last until the first frost.

In addition to zinnias’ spectacular garden show where ever you need a burst of color, zinnias are an incredible cut flower. Many varieties of zinnias will last from seven to 12 days in a vase. Zinnias are the workhorse of the farmer’s market, too. Flower farmers will attest that zinnias with their brilliant colors, easy care and long vase life are one of the most profitable flowers to grow.

Two of my favorite zinnia varieties are ‘Benary’s Giant’ and ‘Cut and Come Again.’ Their names tell their story. ‘Benary’s Giant’ are large bloomed, brilliant flowers on tall stems ranging from 40-52 inches. ‘Cut and Come Again’ just love to produce and, like all zinnias, if you cut the stem just above a bud joint, you’ll encourage your zinnias to produce nonstop throughout the growing season.

Zinnias Love Summer but Need Their Space

Perhaps no other flower marks the coming of summer better than the zinnia. This heat-loving annual has striking, colorful round flowers that brighten up any garden.

Zinnias come in a variety of colors, including cream, yellow, red, gold, orange, pink, rose, lavender, purple, plum, scarlet, white and salmon. The flower also has many sizes, from several inches tall to 3 or 4 feet.

“May is a good month to plant zinnias,” said Gary Hayakawa, general manager of Three Star Nursery in Fountain Valley, a wholesale grower whose plants can be found in many Orange County nurseries.

“In May, zinnia roots have a chance to get established before the heat arrives,” he said. “Then once the weather warms up, they really take off. Zinnias do really well in hot areas.”


Many of the zinnias you’ll find in the nursery are medium-sized varieties, which grow 10 to 15 inches. Some common medium-sized varieties are the Peter Pan, Dreamland, Dasher and Pulcino.

You can also find dwarf zinnias, such as Thumbelina mix, that bloom at 3 inches. Tall varieties that grow 2 to 3 feet include State Fair and Dahlia-flowered.

Zinnias can also be grown from seed, and there are many seed types available.

To have success growing zinnias, keep the following tips in mind:


* Choose a full-sun location that does not get any overhead watering from sprinklers, as zinnias are prone to fungus.

* Amend the soil well before planting with homemade or bagged compost. Zinnias like a well-draining soil.

* Plant zinnias at the depth they are in containers, unless the plant is tall and unstable. In that case, plant it a little lower than the existing soil level.

* Give zinnias space, which promotes air circulation and prevents fungus and leaf spot problems. Large varieties should be spaced 12 inches apart and smaller varieties 6 inches apart.

* Plant zinnia seeds in small containers and then transplant or put the seeds directly in the ground.

To plant in containers, evenly space about six seeds in a 4-inch pot. Once they germinate, thin to four plants. Transplant in the garden when they are about 2 inches tall.

To direct seed, work the soil well and amend. Then make a small ditch with sides that are 3 or 4 inches high. This will hold the water in when you irrigate. Level the soil inside the ditch and place the seed exactly where you want the flowers to grow. Cover the seeds with a quarter-inch of potting soil and pat gently. Mist the bed twice daily until the seeds germinate.

* Water zinnias at ground level to prevent fungus. Once they are 3 to 4 inches high, water them deeply a couple of times a week, depending on weather. Zinnias aren’t drought tolerant, but they like their soil a little on the dry side. The soil should not be continuously wet.


* If we experience overcast June weather, cut down on watering. This will prevent fungus diseases. Once the hot days of July hit, fungus problems should disappear.

* Prolong bloom by removing faded blossoms.

* Fertilize regularly with an all-purpose fertilizer recommended for flowers.

How to grow the best zinnias

How to buy

Although zinnias are sometimes sold in punnets, they are best bought as seeds and sown directly where they are to grow. Varieties include the dwarf Zinnia linearis, an excellent container type with bright orange flowers up to 80cm in height; and Z. elegans with blooms in magenta, lime green, cream, blood red, tangerine, yolk-yellow, scarlet and pink. Cultivars have been bred to produce zinnias with cactus-type flowers, pompom flowers and dahlia-like flowers, as well as doubles and star-shapes, in a huge range of colours and sizes. The taller varieties are susceptible to strong winds, so if this is a problem in your garden select smaller strains.

Where to plant

Zinnias adore hot spots, and demand a well-drained position in full sun to give their best displays. Sowing beds should be dug over to a spade’s depth and worked until they are crumbly and friable. Mix into garden beds 5IN1 Organic Fertiliser to give the soil all the nutrients to fantastic growth. Sweeten the soil with lime if it is more acid than pH 6.5 and dig it in well. Water the bed until the soil is damp to a spade’s depth and allow the soil to settle for a couple of days before sowing the seed.

How to plant Zinnias

Choose a still, sunny morning on which to sow the seeds because zinnias require warmth to germinate. The seeds are large enough to be relatively easy to handle and should be spaced approximately 25cm apart. Cover to the depth specified on the seed packet with a light soil/sand/vermiculite mix or use a preprepared seed raising mix. Water the seed bed well with a fine spray. Zinnias are some of the longest-lasting annual plants in the flower garden, so as the seedlings emerge (approximately 10 days later) sprinkle a very light layer of mulch between the plants to help them survive extreme weather during their extended season.

How to maintain Zinnias

Once the seeds germinate keep them weed free and moist. When half-grown, pinch out the leaders to induce side shoots and growth points for lots more flowers. A fortnightly feed with a liquid fertiliser such as Searles Flourish® will keep the flowers blooming brightly and the foliage lush and green. Zinnias flower profusely from late spring until early winter if picked for an indoor display or deadheaded continually. Use the dead heads as a mulch around established plants.

Pests and diseases on Zinnias

Old zinnia plants are susceptible to fungal disease, although they will still bloom successfully if affected. Fungus grows best on damp foliage, so either water the plants with a dripper system or soaker hose, or if you’ve installed an overhead sprinkler system, water in the morning. Slugs and snails love young plants, so protect them with gritty mulch, beer traps, or a bait that is not toxic to pets and wildlife.

Bonus points

Zinnias are superb cutting flowers and last for up to two weeks in a vase. To prolong their life, add a teaspoon of bleach to the water and change it every other day. At the very end of the season, allow the seed heads to mature on the plant and save them for sowing the following spring.

Among all of the extraordinary delights of the flower garden, a very familiar bloom always sparks loads of admiration from veteran horticulturists and casual passersby alike. The zinnia — a plant native to Mexico — brightens up our garden from midsummer all the way to the first hard frost. But these summer flowers earn their place in our hearts for more than their good looks. Read on to see what these special plants have to offer.

Growing Zinnias From Seeds

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Growing zinnias from seed might be one of the easiest gardening tasks of the year. Where spring warms up early, wait until the last frost has passed before directly sowing zinnia seeds outside. Plant the seeds only about ¼-inch deep. You’ll see seedlings sprout in four to seven days. Once the seedlings reach about three inches tall, thin them so that they’re 6 to 18 inches apart to maximize air circulation, a key to keeping zinnias looking good all season.

In cooler climates, start seeds indoors four to six weeks before your area’s average last-frost date. Harden off the plants by vacationing trays outside for a few hours per day before planting them in your garden.

If you buy zinnia plants at the garden center that have already reached the size at which flowers bloom, ease the transition to your garden by pruning the plants back by one-third. Then sit back and watch your zinnia patch mature and flourish.

Choosing Types of Zinnias

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From petunia pink to daisy yellow, zinnias come in every eye-catching hue (except true blue) so you can match them with your favorite perennial or annual flowers, foliage plants, and herbs. They look especially beautiful when you sprinkle your seeds among a mix of cut flowers such as dahlias, marigolds, asters, and petunias.

Want tall, back-of-the-border plants with huge blooms like a dahlia? Plant some giant zinnias, which can reach up to 4 feet tall. Need a low growing flower with simple yet colorful petals? Plant dwarf zinnia seeds, which can grow as short as 10-inches tall.

If you want big, bright, and bold flowers, you’ll love Benary’s Giant, even in the saturated air of a Pennsylvania July, these Goliaths remain mildew-free.

You’ll find plenty of mid-height zinnias to choose from but our favorite is the Zowie! Gold Flame. This variety is not towering, but not cowering either; it grows to a robust 30 inches-tall, in an in-your-face blend of red and gold.

The neatly mounded shape, consistent color, and disease and drought tolerance of Profusion zinnias have won over researchers, landscapers, and home gardening experts. Unlike most zinnias, which are sold in multicolored mixes, Profusion is available in single colors of orange, cherry, and white.

For a zinnia with a different look that resists powdery mildew valiantly, try growing the narrow-leaved Star Series or the Crystal Series, which tolerates drought and grows well from seed.

Varieties such as Old Mexico and Persian Carpet have the rich golds, yellows, reds, and copper colors that foreshadow the coming of fall. Old Mexico bears mostly double flowers — two layers of petals rather than one — while Persian Carpet produces 2-inch double and semi-double blooms in bold autumnal shades.

Companion Planting With Zinnias

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If there’s one thing that’s better than a hearty border of cheerful double zinnias, it’s a garden plot of zinnias accompanied by a partner that shows them off to their best advantage. Grow the seeds of these winning companion planting combinations: Benary’s Giant Lime and Purpletop Vervain, Big Tetra Mix and Purple Knight, Cut and Come Again and red fountain grass, Persian Carpet and Blue Horizon, Profusion Orange and Victoria, Star White and Black-Eyed Susans, and Zowie! Gold Flame and Purple Majesty.

Cutting Zinnias

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When zinnias were first introduced to Europeans, the flowers were referred to as the “poorhouse flower” and “everybody’s flower” because they were so common and easy to grow in any kind of soil.

The more blooms you snip from zinnias, the more flowers they produce. Zinnias were once popularly called “youth and old age” because old blooms stay fresh as new blooms open throughout the entire summer.

Solving Potential Zinnia Problems

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We’re ready to guarantee that zinnias will not fail you. But if you live where late summer nights are cool and humid and the soil is often wet, brace yourself for a potential encounter with powdery mildew.

Prevention is your best defense against this troublesome fungus, says Larry Hodgson, author of Annuals for Every Purpose. He recommends protecting zinnia plants from the grayish-white growth by maintaining good air circulation around them, watering at the roots, and choosing mildew-resistant varieties.

Sometimes Japanese beetles will flock to lime and white zinnias. If you live where these beetles are a pest, simply hand-pluck the marauders off the foliage and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.

Saving Zinnia Seeds

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You might think that seed saving is a complex challenge best left to advanced gardening pros, but that is not true when you’re talking about zinnia seeds. Do this and in a couple of generations of seeds you will have developed your own strain of zinnias selected to perform well in your conditions.

Simply clip off a dried flower head from each color that you want to save. Pull the flower apart and remove the seeds inside or simply put the whole blossom full of seeds into an envelope. Seal and identify the flower color. Keep the seeds in a cool, dry place until it is time to plant next year.

Planting Guide – Zinnia Seeds

In spite of their wonderfully ungraceful habit of growth, zinnias are one of the most popular of the annuals, and there are many reasons why. They offer wide variations in form and coloring; they bloom over a long period; they will endure drought and neglect, and will succeed when all else fails; and the brilliantly colored flowers add greatly to the beauty of many a midsummer and early autumn garden.

Growing Zinnias in Your Garden

In size, zinnias range from the tiny Lilliput varieties suitable for edgings and borders, to the giant, branching types which reach a height of over three feet. There are single and double forms, crested, curled and quilled forms – and there are few flowers which offer as wide a range of color; white, shell-pink, violet, salmon, rose, scarlet, mauve, yellow and tawny orange. There are varieties to suit every color planting and they may be had in soft pastel tints or in shades that are wildly vibrant with color.

When & How to Plant Zinnia Seeds

Keep in mind that Zinnias are native to Mexico, where they have become accustomed to long, hot summers. They are classed as tender annuals and can be directly sown into the garden after all danger of frost is over and daytime temps are at least 50F and above. In cooler climates, start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before your area’s average last-frost date. Harden off the plants by vacationing trays outside for a few hours per day before planting them in your garden.

Growing Guide

Zinnias are best started directly outdoors in locations where spring warms up early. Turn over the soil in the area you want to plant your zinnias and work in 2 or 3 inches of compost or peat moss to help improve soil fertility and drainage. Plant the seeds only about ¼” – ½” deep and you should see seedlings sprout in four to seven days. Once the seedlings reach about 3” tall, thin them to maximize air circulation, and prevent powdery mildew. The dwarf varieties, reaching a height of 1 to 1 ½ feet, should be planted or thinned to about 9” apart, while the taller 3-feet varieties should be spaced about 1 foot apart.

If starting your zinnias indoors, fill up your pots with organic potting mix. Saturate the potting mix with water and then place two zinnia seeds into each planting cell or pot. Press into the soil for good seed-to-soil contact and then cover with approximately ½” of the potting mix.

Place your zinnias in an area that will receive plenty of warmth (65-70F) and light. Keep your zinnia seeds moistened, checking on them every day or two. Expect to see germination in about 7 to 10 days. Once your seedlings reach about 2 ½ – 3” tall, they are ready to be transplanted outdoors.

Zinnias may be transplanted with ease, as it is possible to move the plants when they are in full flower! Although they thrive best in full sun, they will also endure partial shade.

Water the area of your zinnia plants carefully, do not get the stems or leaves wet since zinnias are prone to mildew. Keep your zinnia garden lightly moistened, and let the area dry out between watering. The beauty of zinnias is that you can spend your attention elsewhere while they bloom profusely summer to autumn.

Possible Problems

Though zinnias are almost effortless to grow, they may experience a bought of powdery mildew. Prevention is your best defense against this troublesome fungus. Make sure that your zinnias maintain good air circulation around them (by planting the recommended distance), and water at the roots rather than from above.


A fundamental annual for most field grown cut flower operations, zinnias hold up well in the garden and cut in flower vases. Enjoy these jewels cut and sprinkled through your house as a mainstay of summer!

As your zinnias reach full height in your garden, you may notice that they have tired of standing all on their own for so long and may need staking. Some gardeners anticipate this stage by starting a second flat of seedlings in June and transplant in late June/mid July. This way, they can enjoy clean, fresh, upright blooms all the way up to August until frost.

Growing Zinnia Flowers From Seed

October 02, 2015

Growing Zinnia Flowers

Zinnias are among one of the easiest annual flowers to grow from seed. They have been used for decades in floral arrangements and bouquets, as a cut flower. However, you might be surprised to learn that they were not always the most sought after flower. In fact, when the Spanish first discovered the Zinnia, they named it “mal de ojos,” which simply translates to “Sickness of the eye.” However, over many years of breeding, the Zinnia flower has become eye candy for gardeners all over the world. In this article, you will learn how to successfully grow Zinnias from Zinnia elegans flower seed. We will cover topics such as when to plant your Zinnia flower seeds, their specific site specifications, soil, sunlight & moisture preferences and more.

A Little Bit About Zinnias

Zinnias offer one of the most diverse selection of colors for your home garden. If there’s a color that you can think of, there’s more than likely a Zinnia to match it. From red, orange, yellow, green, violet, pink, purple, blue, white- you get the picture. There are even bi-colored varieties to choose from as well, such as “Peppermint Stick” or “Candy Stripe,” two selections which we carry right here on our online store. Zinnias come in an array of sizes as well. While some Zinnia blooms will open up to a massive 6 inches wide, others might only bloom to 2 or 3 inches. Another variant is height. Some grow to a short height of only 12 inches tall, while others grow to over 36 inches tall. Categorized as an annual flowering plant, the Zinnia will grow quickly, bloom profusely through the summer months and later die with the first killing frost. Although annuals won’t return the following year, the seeds from your Zinnia flowers can fall to the bare ground beneath, establishing new plants in the Spring. You can also collect the seeds yourself, to store over the winter for the next growing season. These versatile plants can be sown in many locations, such as flower beds, raised beds, in pots and in containers as well. Zinnias can be used in a naturalized setting, or along borders & fences, along driveways or walkways & even directly in your butterfly garden. Bumblebees, hummingbirds, honeybees, swallowtails, monarchs & even ladybugs will cling to these beauties.

Site Specifications

First and foremost, Zinnias will pop up with no issue if they are given the proper sunlight, soil and moisture. Most Zinnia flowers will thrive in an area that receives full sunlight for the majority of the day. Temperatures should be kept at a fair 70F to 80F, and the soil will need to be fertile & rich in organic matter. You will also need to make sure that your soil, or sowing medium is loose and well draining as well. To increase drainage in your gardening space, we recommend that you mix a light compost to any area containing hard, compact soil. Areas containing hard, compact soil can become waterlogged, eventually causing you Zinnias to wilt, or it’s roots to rot. Water the seeds and early seedlings daily, with a light mist setting, or spray bottle, just until the sprouts become stout enough to establish a strong root system. As the plants mature, you can water normally with a watering can or soaker setting.

How To Plant Zinnia Seeds

Zinnia plants can be established from sowing indoors, or directly outdoors. Sowing Indoors: To begin, you should purchase a rich & fertile potting mix, as well as starter pots prior to planting. We recommend peat pots, since they will prevent root shock when transplanting later on. Sow 1 to 2 seeds per pot, 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost. Place the Zinnia seeds directly to the surface of the soil and cover them thinly with peat moss. Our recommendation on coverage is 1/8″ to 1/16″ of peat moss. As explained above, you will want to water the seeds with a light mist setting or spray bottle so that you do not disturb the seeds. If peat pots were used, transplant your entire pots into the garden when the weather is warm and all danger of frost has passed. Peat pots are known to break down, or decompose over time.
Direct Sowing Outdoors: If sowing your Zinnia seeds directly outdoors, we recommend that you prepare your sowing area by removing all unwanted weeds & other plant life. Turn the earth, or replace it with a fresh new soil, which should be filled with organic matter. Sow your seeds directly to the surface of the soil, covering the seeds with a thin layer of peat moss. Because sowing any seed directly outdoors is a bit more risky, you may consider sowing on a day that is calm & free of high winds. Sow 1 to 2 seeds to establish 1 complete plant. Once your Zinnia plants get taller, you might want to add a 2 inch layer of mulch around the base of each plant. This will suppress the growth of weeds and other unwanted plant life from returning to the area.
Check Germination & Growth below for additional spacing and growth habits.

Germination & Growth Habits

Zinnias are known to germinate within roughly 7 to 10 days after sowing. Depending on the variety grown, they can range in height from 12 inches up to 48 inches tall and can be spaced anywhere between 8 to 24 inches apart. It’s always best to refer to your seed packet for additional information on specific growth habits, such as height & spacing. All Seed Needs Packets provide this information on the reverse side of the packet. Once the plants are established, they will attract an array of beneficial insects to the garden, flowering all summer long. Zinnias make excellent cut flowers for many floral arrangements and bouquets as well. Once your Zinnias begin to flower, you can begin deadheading old, spent blooms to encourage new growth. Again, since Zinnias are annuals, they will not regrow the following season, unless their seeds fall to the bare ground beneath. If you are collecting seeds yourself, for the following growing season, you should allow the flower heads to dry out. Check out the video below for the easiest way to collect seeds from your Zinnia’s.


Often times, many gardeners will experience mildew problems with their Zinnia plants. There are a few ways to prevent powdery mildew, one of which is to water the plants directly at the roots, versus watering the entire plant and wetting it’s leaves. A soak setting on the garden hose is the best way to achieve direct watering. This can prove to be beneficial in maintaining healthier Zinnia plants & will promote better blooms. You will avoid disrupting smaller plants this way as well. You might also consider spraying a fungicide on the plants, or using a mixture of milk and water. If powdery mildew has already consumed most of the plant life you can definitely cut back the plants, disposing the infected plant life in a garbage can that’s away from your growing area. Dispose of all infected leaves and other foliage that drops to the ground beneath as well. Cutting back thick foliage to allow better airflow between your Zinnia plants is another way to prevent powdery mildew.

Grow Great Zinnias

Nothing says summer more than an armload of cheerful zinnias. Available in a brilliant rainbow of colors, these happy blooms are a must-grow for any flower lover.

As one of the easiest cut flowers to cultivate, they are a perfect first crop for beginning growers and are reliable, prolific producers for most flower farms.

We’ve been growing zinnias since the beginning, and every year I fall more and more in love with them.

Zinnias resent cold weather and prefer to be planted after things have warmed up a bit. Many gardeners in warmer parts of the world are able to successfully direct seed their zinnias straight into the field, but here in cool Washington we start our plants in 72-cell trays in the greenhouse 4 to 6 weeks before our last spring frost.

Plants are tucked into the field around mid-May, once the weather has sufficiently warmed up and all danger of frost has passed. Like every flower grown on our farm, we try to give them the best start possible. Learn more about soil preparation here.

Once the planting beds have been prepared, we lay down four lines of drip irrigation, roughly a foot (30.5 cm) apart, then the beds are covered with a layer of pre-burned landscape fabric to control weeds. Plants are spaced 9 inches (23 cm) apart with five rows per bed.

If given good soil and a steady supply of water, plants can get huge and require some type of support. We use a layer of Hortonova netting stretched horizontally about 12 inches (30.5 cm) above the ground. Netting is held in place by metal hoops that we made with our Johnny’s Quick Hoops Bender. Any type of stake, wooden or metal, will work just fine. As the plants grow, they push up through the grid of netting and get the support they need.

Zinnias like the heat, and it’s important that they are grown in full sun. In addition to choosing a sunny spot, I always grow them in fabric for the added heat.

When we first started growing zinnias this closely together I was worried that they would be plagued by disease, but since they are grown in such rich soil, this hasn’t been a problem. We succession sow zinnias every 2 to 3 weeks in order to have a steady stream of these beautiful blooms all summer long.

The secret to getting the longest stems from your zinnias is pinching them when they are young. Here’s how it’s done: When plants are between 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30.5 cm) tall, take sharp pruners and snip the top 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) off the plant, just above a set of leaves. This signals the plant to send up multiple stems from below where the cut was made, resulting in more abundant flower production as well as longer stem length. The photo above demonstrates pinching with another type of plant.

If you are not regularly harvesting your zinnias, be sure to deadhead any spent blooms to help focus the plant’s energy into producing new flowers and not going to seed.

Zinnias need to be picked when they are fully ripe, otherwise they won’t last in the vase. To tell whether a zinnia is ready to harvest, use the “wiggle test.” Simply grab the stem about 8 inches (20 cm) down from the flower head and gently shake it. If the stem is droopy or bends, it is not ready to cut. If the stem is stiff and remains erect, it is ready to harvest.

Zinnias are considered a “dirty flower” and benefit from a drop or two of bleach in their water. Do not put them in the cooler since the flowers are very cold-sensitive.

There is an unbelievable number of zinnias to choose from in every shape, color, and size imaginable. No matter what your needs are, there is definitely a zinnia for you.

For example, if you’re looking for flowers in the peach-salmon range, look at how many choices there are!

Top row, left to right: ‘Giant Salmon Rose’, ‘Zinderella Peach‘, ‘Queen Lime Orange’.

Bottom row, left to right: ‘Señora’, ‘Lilliput Salmon’, ‘Oklahoma Salmon’.

Here’s a great example of the different size options available in one color.

Left to right, above: ‘Lilliput Salmon’, ‘Giant Salmon Rose‘, ‘Oklahoma Salmon’.

Left to right, below: ‘Giant Salmon Rose’, ‘Oklahoma Salmon’, ‘Lilliput Salmon’.

I thought I’d share some of my favorite varieties that we grow here on the farm in hopes that it inspires you to plant some of these hardworking, heat-loving beauties in your garden this season.

First off, we are super-excited about ‘Unicorn Mix’ (pictured above). This special Floret mix has been an ongoing labor of love, and while it’s still a work in progress, we’re thrilled to finally be able to share it with the world.

The mix has medium-sized, mostly double blooms in an enchanting range of vivid sherbet tones including raspberry, tangerine, magenta, lemon, apricot, dusty lilac, and blush with striking lavender centers.

Another Floret introduction, ‘Golden Hour’ is a beautiful collection of warm buff, honey, and soft apricot blooms started from two single plants we discovered in our fields.

Over the years we’ve collected the seeds and selected out the palest antique melon shades. There’s nothing else like it on the market. This variety is named for our favorite time of day on the farm, the golden hour just before the sun sets on the horizon.

Benary’s Giant Series: The largest-flowered varieties in the zinnia family, plants often reach 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m) tall and have a high percentage of huge double flowers. They come in a wide range of colors (12 total) and are known for their strong stems and good disease resistance.

My all-time favorite variety is ‘Giant Salmon Rose’ (pictured above) because its warm peachy color is so versatile and softens with age. It pairs well with both pastel and vibrant colors.

I also love the ‘Desert Sunset Mix’ (pictured above), which includes my favorite warm-toned Benary’s Giant colors: Coral, Orange, and Carmine. They make a bold statement when combined with acid green or deep maroon flowers and foliage.

The individual colors in this series are stunning, especially en masse.

‘Benary’s Giant Coral’ (pictured left) is a glowing tropical coral-salmon variety and a long-standing customer favorite. ‘Benary’s Giant Carmine’ (pictured right) has raspberry-pink blooms; as they age the outer tips of the petals fade, giving blooms a multidimensional quality.

The petal tips of ‘Benary’s Giant Orange’ are edged with the tiniest hint of lavender, giving them an iridescent quality. The blooms of ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’ are a unique, Granny Smith apple-green and deeply packed with petals. ‘Benary’s Giant Deep Red’ (pictured left) is a rich ruby-red; the back of the petals have the slightest hint of purple, giving them a glowing, iridescent quality. The cotton candy-pink blooms of ‘Benary’s Giant Bright Pink’ (pictured right) are as sweet as can be. A customer favorite, ‘Benary’s Giant Wine’ (pictured left) is a dramatic, deep wine hue. ‘Benary’s Giant Lilac’ (pictured right) starts out a vivid lilac, and with time the outer petals fade to a cool pale lavender, giving it a haunting effect.

Oklahoma Series: These are hands down the most productive and floriferous zinnias I’ve ever grown. The series boasts 7 colors including Oklahoma Salmon, Pink, Carmine, Ivory, White, Yellow, and Scarlet.

‘Oklahoma Salmon‘ (pictured above) has petite, double blooms that are a warm mix of salmon and peach and combine well with anything. Everyone loves this treasure!

‘Oklahoma Ivory’ (pictured above) had been discontinued but, to the delight of countless growers and designers, was brought back by Frank Morton at Wild Garden Seed here in the Pacific Northwest. We are so pleased to offer this variety, treasured for its versatile creamy ivory color and pretty double blooms.

Queen Series: Unlike other zinnias, this series includes the most unique array of unusual coloring including lime green, smoky apricot, dusty rose, and limey blush.

In addition to their special coloring, the Queen Series also produces vigorous plants with sturdy stems and tough flowers, a welcomed improvement to the zinnia family.

These gorgeous novelties are sought out by designers for their unique coloring.

The mostly double and semi-double flowers of ‘Queen Lime Blush’ (pictured above) are a stunning blend of green and purple, unlike anything we’ve seen. Everyone who sees them instantly falls in love. It’s a must-grow!

‘Queen Lime Orange’: This exciting new addition to the Queen Series is the most beautiful range of iridescent raspberry, apricot, and smoky peach with a dark cranberry center. This versatile color looks incredible when combined with rich foliage and blooms.

Scabiosa-flowered types: I grew scabiosa-flowered zinnias for the first time in 2014, and they quickly became one of my favorite crops of the season. The frilly double blooms look like mini gerbera daisies or double-flowered echinacea.

They have nice long stems and good disease resistance, and they come in a beautiful range of colors.

‘Candy Mix’ (pictured above) is an improved mix that contains a higher percentage of double flowers in a warm, cheerful blend of scarlet, raspberry, rose, salmon, tangerine, gold, and cream.

One point to note is that many growers in warmer climates have noticed that they don’t get the same high percentage of doubles with scabiosa types (doubles pictured right) that we do here in the Northwest.

After a lot of research and emails back and forth with the breeders, I believe that if plants undergo any stress, including not getting enough water or too-high temps, they will start producing single flowers (pictured left).

While the single blooms are pretty and unique, many folks have been disappointed by this fact.

‘Zinderella Peach’ (pictured above) has frilly double blooms that are a warm mix of salmon, peach, and cream, accented by a striking dark center. Of all the zinnias we grow, this might be my favorite.
‘Zinderella Lilac’ (pictured above) is a lovely mix of blush and soft lavender, accented by a striking dark center. It’s ideal for wedding work, and floral designers love it!

Bicolor novelties: These unique bicolor novelties are sure to catch the attention of everyone who sees them.

We’ve been growing ‘Macarenia’ for years and have found that people either love it or hate it. Each glowing scarlet petal is tipped in gold for a fun twist. Winner of the Fleuroselect Novelty Award in 2012, this hardworking plant thrives in heat and is very easy to grow.

‘Mazurkia’ brings a new twist to zinnias and is a Fleuroselect Winner for good reason. The mid-sized plant produces fun, campy double flowers with lipstick-pink centers and soft blush tips.

Miniature flowered types: The old-fashioned ‘Lilliput Mix’ (pictured above) deserves a spot in every cutting garden. The easy to grow, heat-loving plants produce a bumper crop of sweet blooms on long, strong stems in shades of rose, carmine, orange, coral, white, yellow, and violet. Their petite flower size makes them ideal for flower arranging.

I especially love ‘Lilliput Salmon’ (pictured growing above). This adorable bloomer produces an abundance of petite, fully double, dome-shaped salmon flowers all summer long.

The Sunbow Series, available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds has been around for ages and has miniature 1- to 2-inch (2.5 to 5 cm) double blooms that ride atop long, sturdy stems. It comes in a cheery mix including rose, purple, golden yellow, scarlet, orange, pink, and white. Plants have long, wiry stems that make them well-suited for flower arranging.

Cactus-flowered types: These fun novelties have the coolest twisted, shaggy petals and come in a wide range of colors including orange, pink, red, yellow, peach, and white.

My favorite is ‘Señora’ (pictured above), which has warm salmon-apricot, quilled blooms and produces a bumper crop of large flowers that have long, strong stems. It’s a must-grow!

Mexican zinnias: While plants themselves are compact, they churn out an abundance of stems for cutting from midsummer to early autumn. With their petite stature, they resemble a bedding plant more than a cropping variety, but I think they deserve a spot in every cutting garden.

The ‘Persian Carpet Mix’ (pictured above) includes adorable gold, cranberry, orange, and cream flowers.

The brilliant, eye-catching ‘Aztec Sunset’ mix includes a wide range of miniature bicolor blooms in shades of buttercream, gold, cranberry, rust, and merlot. These reliable bloomers are a great addition to the cutting garden and the front of the flower border.

I would love to hear your experience with this wonderful group of plants. Do you grow zinnias or plan to add them to your garden this coming season? If so, what are your favorite varieties, or what new treasures are you adding to your wishlist?

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How to Grow Zinnias in Your Garden

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Zinnias are beautiful flowers that are perfect for beginning gardeners! These annual flowers are available in many colors and varieties and can give your garden a huge boost of color and are perfect for creating bouquets. Zinnias are very low-maintenance and simply need lots of sun, warmth, and well-drained soil in order to thrive and can be enjoyed from summer until the first heavy frost of fall. They have no major insect problems and can attract beautiful butterflies to your garden!

The growing approach can vary slightly depending on your region. In warmer areas, the zinnia seeds can be sown directly into the garden when the temperature starts to rise. Here in New England, it takes longer to warm up so you can get a head start on the growing process by sowing seeds indoors about a month before the last frost is expected as long as the soil can be kept at 70 to 80 degrees F. Sow seeds in peat pots that can be directly transplanted into the garden since zinnias don’t like being transplanted. Zinnias typically take around 2 months from seed to flower, although this can change depending on weather conditions.

Here are some additional tips to grow zinnias:

• Choose a bright and sunny spot for your zinnias.
• Cover zinnia seeds with just ¼ inch of soil because they need light to germinate.
• Keep soil moist as the flowers develop.
• When seedlings are 2-3 inches in height, thin to 6-8 inches apart for small varieties and 1 foot apart for large varieties.
• Do not over water the zinnias. 1 inch of water per week is recommended.
• Remove faded or dead flower blooms from the zinnias so that they produce more blooms. This is called “deadheading”.

At Parlee Farms, we grow 10 shades of Benary Giant zinnias. They are a beautiful, sturdy variety with a long stem – great for cutting. They are available from late July until the first frost, usually late September. So if you grow your own or purchase them from a farm, zinnias are just a wonderful summer flower to have in your home!

Categorized in: Flowers

This post was written by Parlee Farms

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