Zinnia: The beautiful protagonist of your yard and garden
Zinnias are one of my favorite summer flowers. And growing zinnias is easy. A single packet of seeds will produce enough blooms to enjoy both in the garden and indoors.
Zinnias are one of those rare blossoms that not only laugh in the face of heat and drought, but also put on such a colorful, glorious display, the rest of your summer garden will be embarrassed.
Their large, petaled faces come in all shades of pink, yellow, orange, red, and purple, making a garden loaded with zinnias look like it’s full of large, colorful lollipops. And the pigments are so rich and clear—it’s exactly what the eye is searching for on a sweltering August day.
This bold annual has been in cultivation for hundreds of years and originates in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America, which explains why it’s such a great performer in hot, sunny locations in the garden.
Look around and you’re likely to see zinnias everywhere in a garden, starting at the front of a garden bed, and everything in between.
Zinnias attract butterflies like moths to a flame. Regardless of which form the zinnia flower comes in, from singles, doubles, and ruffles to dahlia and cactus forms and small pompoms, they make perfect landing pads for monarchs, swallowtails, and other butterflies. This nectar-rich flower is a must-have for all butterfly gardens.
You can start zinnias by seed indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last average frost date for your zone, or wait and sow them directly in the garden when the weather warms. It’s an incredibly easy plant to grow from seed—great for children and beginning gardeners. I’ve even had zinnias sow themselves from seed that appeared on stems from the previous year.
Or stop by your local garden center and pick up a six-pack or two. In fact, I plant zinnia seed directly in the soil successively every two weeks in patches at Moss Mountain Farm (Zone 8a) as a late as August. This always ensures plenty of blooms in early fall and through October.
The only disease issues to keep an eye out for are possibly leaf spot and powdery mildew. The main culprits are too much water, high humidity, and poor air circulation. During the height of summer, water at the base of the plants so that leaves remain dry, and let them dry out between waterings. Pick up and discard brown, fallen leaves, and space plants so that there’s enough room for good air circulation. If necessary, treat affected plants with a fungicide, such as Neem oil.
But honestly, I think the zinnia’s overwhelming flower power is enough to overcome any spots or blemishes you might encounter.
From simple handpicked bouquets to artistic masterpieces, easy-to-grow zinnia flowers shine in seasonal arrangements from late summer through early autumn