By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Zinnia flowers (Zinnia elegans) are a colorful and long lasting addition to the flower garden. When you learn how to plant zinnias for your area, you’ll be able to add this popular annual to sunny areas that benefit from their perky blooms.
How to Grow Zinnia Plants
Growing zinnia plants can be inexpensive, particularly when growing them from seed. Seeds of zinnia flowers should usually be sown directly into the sunny flower bed, as developing roots do not like to be disturbed.
If you wish to start growing zinnia plants from seeds indoors, plant the seeds in peat pots, poo pots (pots made from cow dung) or other biodegradable containers that can be planted directly into the garden later. Start seeds four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area. Zinnias begin to show growth outdoors when temperatures are above 50 degrees F.
Space the seeds for growing zinnia plants properly, usually several inches to a couple of feet apart, depending on the size of the mature plant. This allows for adequate air circulation around the plants as they grow. Powdery mildew and other diseases can attack zinnia flowers that are planted too close together or that remain wet from overhead watering.
While the widest range of zinnia colors and heights comes from planting seeds, the popular flower is usually available in starter packs as well at your local garden center.
Caring for Zinnias
Zinnia care should include watering at the base of the plant. A soaker hose is ideal for keeping foliage and petals dry while providing much needed irrigation. Zinnia care may also include watering in the early morning, allowing the foliage and flowers ample time to dry off before nightfall.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, for young plants. Mature zinnias require less watering, as grown flowers are somewhat drought tolerant. With proper placement and correct watering, zinnia plants provide long-term color and beauty in the summer flower bed.
Growing zinnia plants benefit from deadheading and flower removal (used in cut flower bouquets). Clipping the plant back often results in more abundant blooms. In addition, when learning how to grow zinnia, remember that pinching back results in a bushier and more attractive plant.
If you’re looking to add some bright color, grow some zinnia flowers in your summer garden this year.