How to Grow Zinnias

Zinnias will forever hold a special place in my heart. They are the ones who got me into flower gardening.
I never bothered with growing flowers. Never had enough time for them, and always preferred to use my garden space to grow vegetables, after all, vegetables are much more useful.
This spring, my little girls (5 and 3) asked me to grow flowers. They love butterflies and other insects and they love picking flowers.

I knew nothing about flowers, but this year I had enough space to plant whatever I wanted since we started planting on our 20 acres in the country. It wasn’t just my small urban garden anymore, I could go crazy and plant whatever I wanted and if something didn’t grow it wasn’t a big deal.

So I thought I’ll get flowers that the girls can make a nice bouquet from, that will attract beneficial insects to pollinate the vegetables, and that will add some color to the garden.
Since I got all my vegetable seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, I wondered over to the flower section and started looking around. I came across this beautiful bouquet of zinnias and knew right away that my girls will love them.

I ordered some seeds, tilled a 100 feet row right next to the corn on the edge of the field (you can see the corn in the picture above on the left), and planted the seeds.

Considering I had an acre of vegetables to take care of, I completely forgot about the flower seeds in the ground.
Then one summer day there was an explosion of color on the farm and no one cared about the vegetables anymore.

I could barely remember how the flowers got there. I didn’t even water them once, but they still grew so dense and colorful. My girls were in zinnia heaven, and I had to admit… It was hard to concentrate on the vegetables.

Since then, flowers are on my list. I now try to learn as much as I can about flower gardening and what flowers I should choose for my garden.

But before I move on to learn about other flowers, I wanted to write down and share with you everything I found out about zinnias.

Plant Description and History

Zinnias are named after Johann Gottfried Zinn, a german anatomist and botanist who in his short life (1727-1759) grew the flower that was found in the New World and brought to Europ.

Zinnia is an annual, sun-loving plant native to Mexico, Central America, and the southwestern US. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, making it a relative of marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, and daisies.

There are many verities of zinnias, some dwarf varieties and some that will grow a long narrow stem five feet tall (California Giant). Flowers grow in a wide verity of colors and can be as big as 6” across.

The vibrant colors attract many beneficial insects like butterflies, bees and bumble bees. Plant zinnias and watch your garden come alive.

Four Main Types of Zinnias
Single – single zinnia flowers are the ones that have one row of petals and a visible center. They are the daisy-like zinnias. Those are the first zinnias that were discovered in Mexico by Spanish colonist.

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  • Colette Colette on Nov 09, 2015
    My Dad helped me plant my first flowers when I was 10yrs old. Zinnias! I will never forget the "explosion of color" at our back fence. Thank you for bringing back that wonderful memory.

  • Theresa Shaut Theresa Shaut on Nov 10, 2015
    I can't tell you how many times I've picked those giant (3-4 ft tall) zinnias and saved the seeds for next year. The butterflies and bees absolutely love them!