Zinnias: plants, choice of location & care tips (2024)

Zinnias have always been popular summer flowers and, with their variety of colors and blooming ability, are a real joy for every gardener. We introduce the zinnia and give tips for cultivating it in your own garden.

Zinnias: plants, choice of location & care tips (1)

A summer flower that can be found in almost every cottage garden is the zinnia (Zinnia elegans). It is sometimes used as a cut flower because it produces numerous colorful flowers throughout the summer. In this article you will find out everything about zinnia, its properties, its requirements for location and care as well as details about sowing and planting.


  • Zinnias: origin and properties
  • The most beautiful zinnia varieties and species
  • Planting zinnias
    • The right time to plant zinnias
    • The right location for zinnias
    • Sow, prick out and plant zinnias
  • Caring for Zinnias
  • Overwintering Zinnias: Are Zinnias Hardy?
  • Propagate Zinnias
  • Common Pests on Zinnias
  • Are zinnias poisonous?

Zinnias: origin and properties

The zinnia belongs to the large daisy family (Asteraceae) - just like daisies (Perpetual wars) andDahlias(Dahlia). In the genusZinniaThere are around 20 species that grow as annuals, perennials or as subshrubs. We mainly plantZinnia elegans. This annual summer flower originally comes from Mexico and is also found in other areas of Central and South America. The zinnia was named by the famous Swedish botanist Carl von Linné in honor of the Göttingen anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn.

The zinnia is an annual summer flower that grows upright and bushy. The leaves of the zinnia are characteristically heavily covered with short hairs and therefore feel rough. They sit opposite each other directly on the flower stalk and are roughly triangular in shape. At the end of the stem a terminal flower forms, which depending on the variety can be double or simple and colored in many colors from white to yellow, orange and red to dark pink. However, strong colors fade quite quickly when exposed to strong sunlight. The flowering period of zinnias extends from July to September, occasionally even into October.

Tipp: Zinnias are bee-friendly ornamental flowers as they provide nectar to eager pollinators such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies. The zinnia flower compensates for the relatively small amount of sugary sap per flower with its high flowering capacity.

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The most beautiful zinnia varieties and species

If you want to plant zinnias, there is a huge selection of varieties and also a few different species of the genusZinnia. They differ primarily in the flower color, shape and size as well as the height of growth. While you can also use tall-growing varieties for bed planting, short-growing dwarf zinnias are better suited to the balcony. We present you with a selection of the most beautiful zinnia varieties for all locations.

All varieties mentioned belong to the speciesZinnia elegans.

  • ˈLiliputˈ: Low zinnia mixture of different colored, small plants with a height of only 50 – 60 cm. The flowering period extends from July to October.
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  • ˈPeter Panˈ: Dwarf zinnia with a height of only 30 cm and flowers around 8 cm in size in an orange-yellow to blood-red color.
  • ˈPolar Bearˈ: Almost completely double white zinnia with large flowers and plants up to one meter high.
  • ˈGiant Cactusˈ: 60 – 80 cm high zinnia variety with semi-double, large flowers and slightly rolled petals that are reminiscent of cactus dahlias.
  • ˈThumbelinaˈ: Smallest of all low zinnia varieties with a height of only 15 - 20 cm and dahlia-like flowers in a wide variety of colors. Ideal mini zinnia for small balcony boxes and pots.
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  • ˈWhirlygigˈ: Colorful mix of two-tone zinnias that have different combinations of pink, orange, red and white and grow to a height of around 60 – 70 cm.
  • Zinnia angustifolia: Narrow-leaved zinnia with lavender-like leaves and small red, pink, deep orange, yellow or white flowers. The delicate plants reach a height of around 30 – 50 cm.
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Planting zinnias

Zinnias are extremely grateful flowering plants if you pay attention to their requirements regarding location, sowing and planting. We give important tips for successful cultivation and planting of zinnias.

The right time to plant zinnias

Zinnias are sown fresh every year as annual ornamental plants and only planted out after the last frost in mid-May. The cultivation takes place in March on the warm windowsill, but young plants can also be bought and planted out after the ice saints.

The right location for zinnias

The ideal location for zinnias is generally sunny, sheltered from the wind and warm. The ornamental plant thrives best on loamy, sandy, nutrient-rich soil that retains moisture well but never causes waterlogging. Whether in the garden, in a pot or on the balcony - zinnias thrive outdoors as well as in a pot, as long as the location and care are right. However, the pretty summer bloomers are not very self-tolerant. Therefore, the location or the potting soil should be changed every year.

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Tipp:Zinnias cannot tolerate heavy rain as this damages the flowers and the tall varieties in particular can fall over. A rain-protected location is therefore important.

Sow, prick out and plant zinnias

Zinnias can be grown indoors between February and April because their seedlings cannot tolerate any cold and love it warm. To sow zinnias, first prepare a seed tray or small pot and fill it with a nutrient-poor potting soil like ours. During and in the initial period after germination, Zinnia seedlings require very few nutrients and are encouraged to form strong roots by nutrient-poor soil. Our growing soil offers a loose structure and a water-storing environment for the sensitive seedlings, which does not contain any peat that has been degraded and is harmful to the climate. Now sow the zinnia seeds in the soil at a depth of around 0.5 to 1 cm, water them and place the seed tray or pot on the bright windowsill at 16 to 20 °C. Always keep the soil moist but not wet. Germination occurs after about 10 to 20 days. As soon as the first true leaves form after the cotyledons, you can prick out. Now place the young plants in nutrient-rich soil in individual pots and let the zinnias continue to grow a little cooler at 12 to 15 °C until they are planted out.

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After the Ice Saints, the young plants can be planted outdoors from mid-May to the end of June. No matter whether in a pot, balcony box or in a bed - leave a planting distance of 20 to 30 cm between the individual zinnias. The bushy growth of the zinnia usually closes the gaps quite quickly. For planting on the terrace and balcony, choose planters with good drainage and sufficient size. For individual zinnias, a pot should hold at least 5 to 10 liters of volume, depending on their growth rate. Fill the bottom of your planters with a 3 cm high drainage layer of coarse gravel or expanded clay and fill it with a nutrient-rich potting soil, like oursPlantura organic potting soil, on. The sustainably produced potting soil contains all the essential nutrients to promote lush flowering and plant health. Now place the young zinnia plants in the soil and pay attention to the planting distance. Afterwards, you need to water heavily so that the soil is flushed to the roots and the zinnias can grow well.

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Summary: Planting Zinnias

  • Sowing: February – April
  • Germination: after 10 – 20 days
  • Planting time: mid-May – end of June
  • Planting distance: 20 – 30 cm
  • Location: Sunny, sheltered from the wind and warm
  • Soil: Loamy-sandy and nutrient-rich
  • Cultivation in beds and in buckets possible

Caring for Zinnias

Zinnias are thirsty garden dwellers and require a regular supply of water. The soil should always be kept evenly moist for them, but never get wet and become waterlogged, otherwise root rot can occur. The magnificently blooming zinnias can be cut continuously for the vase throughout the entire flowering period. To do this, use a sharp knife and cut the flower stalk back to just one pair of leaves, as this is where the plant will branch out again and form flowers again. The flowers stay fresh in water for about one to two weeks.

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Spent zinnia flowers should also be removed regularly to ensure they continue to bloom - unless seeds are to be obtained.

Zinnias, like many summer flowers, rely on a regular supply of nutrients and should therefore be well fertilized. When fertilizing zinnias in pots or balcony boxes, we particularly recommend using a liquid nutrient fertilizer like ours. Approximately every two weeks, 15 to 25 ml are added to 5 liters of irrigation water and simply applied when watering. The nutrients it contains reach directly to the roots and are quickly absorbed. Acute deficiency symptoms, such as yellowing of the lowest leaves due to a lack of nitrogen, can also be quickly remedied in this way.

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Overwintering Zinnias: Are Zinnias Hardy?

Zinnias are not hardy in our area because they cannot tolerate any frost. As is usual with annual plants, the zinnia dies completely after the seeds ripen, so it cannot be overwintered indoors. The plant can only make it into the coming year in the form of seeds.

Propagate Zinnias

Zinnias can be propagated through their seeds. In order for seeds to form, they must not be double flowers, as these are sterile. Flowers visited by bees and other pollinators crossbreed with other Zinnia varieties, so that the seeds often no longer contain the original variety of the mother plant. However, if varietal purity is not a top priority, you may be able to enjoy wonderful new color combinations from home-grown seeds. To collect seeds, spent flowers must of course be left standing and must not be cut. The numerous elongated achene fruits of the zinnia ripen by October and can be cut off together with the flower head in late autumn when the inflorescence has dried up and dried indoors at room temperature for two to three weeks. As soon as the seeds fall out on their own after rubbing them a little, separate them from the remains of the flowers and store them in a dry and cool place in paper bags. Zinnia seeds can germinate for around four years if stored well.

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Common Pests on Zinnias

Slugs love zinnias and can quickly destroy young plants completely. Adult zinnia plants, on the other hand, are hardly at risk anymore.

Snail protection makes sense, especially in the first few weeks after planting. In addition, people come along in good timeAphidsandSpider miteson the summer bloomers. Outdoors, however, beneficial insects such as ladybirds quickly limit explosive proliferation. More tips onControl of aphidscan be found in our special article.

Are zinnias poisonous?

Zinnias are not poisonous per se, but they can cause allergic reactions when the plant sap comes into contact with the skin. This is due to alkaloids such as nicotine and various terpenes that it contains. Ideally, you should always wear gloves when cutting the zinnia. The zinnia flowers, on the other hand, are edible and are also a real feast for the eyes as decoration or as an ingredient in flower butter.

A distant relative of the zinnia is the annualSunflower, which can reach amazing heights. We will introduce you to the popular summer flower and cover all topics from choosing a variety to planting and care right through to harvesting.

Zinnias: plants, choice of location & care tips (2024)


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