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Growing Zinnia Flowers From Seed

Growing Zinnia Flowers From Seed

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.
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