If you want colorful, versatile, easy-growing annuals for your spring and summer veggie beds, flowerbeds, and pollinator gardens, you can’t go wrong with Zinnias.
These cheery members of the Aster family originated in South and Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States.
From there, Dr. Johann Gottfried Zinn brought them to Europe during the 18th century, and they were named after him. Then, during the early 20th century, they became popular bedding plants because of their ease of growing and the wide variety of colors and forms available.
In this article, we will describe the types of zinnias available to you and recommend choosing and planting these pollinator-friendly flowers in your summer garden. Read on to learn more.
Basic Categories Or Types Of Zinnia Flowers
There are numerous varieties of Zinnias available in four basic categories or types. They are sorted by the rows of petals found on the flowers. They are:
- Single-flowered zinnias have the flower center exposed and present a single row of petals. This arrangement makes it easy for pollinators to collect poll.
- Semi-double flowered zinnias also have the centers exposed and present two or more rows of petals.
- Fully double-flowered zinnias have the centers obscured or covered and present multiple rows of petals. Note that if you want to attract and accommodate pollinators, this is not the best choice because they may be unable to locate or access the blooms’ pollen.
- Cactus flowered zinnias have long petals that roll under, resulting in each petal forming its own flower.
There are also wide dwarf varieties of zinnias of all types. Anecdotal evidence indicates that these smaller versions may not be as attractive to pollinators as their full-sized relatives.
It may be that they are simply not as visible because they are at a lower level, or perhaps they contain less nectar.
No matter the reason, it’s best to keep these sorts as borders or perhaps in window boxes, railing planters, and hanging baskets.
12 Popular Zinnia Varieties
There are seventeen species of Zinnias, and all are lovely and easy to grow. Many cultivars and hybrids make it possible for gardeners to choose from a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and flower styles.
Most produce great numbers of blooms from early in the spring until mid-autumn.
Here are a dozen of the most popular varieties:
Zinnia elegans is a very well-known annual garden denizen. These zinnias may grow to be three feet high.
They have large, abundant blooms, coarse leaves, and sturdy, hairy stems.
Zinnia angustifolia tends to be a bit more low-growing. This makes it a good choice as a container plant, in hanging baskets, or along borders.
Sizes range from 6″ inches high to 3′ feet high. These plants have small, narrow leaves and abundant blooms.
State Fair Mix Zinnias
State Fair Mix Zinnias are available in both small and large varieties. The tall variety is very attractive to butterflies and other pollinators and can grow to a towering 4″ feet high. Each plant produces extra-large five or 6-inch blooms.
Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnia
Zowie Yellow Flame Zinnia is very popular with butterflies, especially Monarchs and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. This variety produces gorgeous large flowers in shades of yellow/red/orange with pink centers.
This is a small variety with very sturdy stems. Don’t expect it to grow over 3′ feet high.
California Giants are a high-growing choice that butterflies love. Their blooms are large and blowsy, looking like Dahlias.
Cut ‘n’ Come Again
Cut ‘n’ Come Again is a good choice for a cutting garden/pollinator garden. The blooms are fairly small, but, as the name suggests, they can take a frequent cutting and regrow enthusiastically.
Benary’s Giant is a surprisingly double-blooming variety that seems extremely attractive to bees and butterflies alike.
While you may not want to make a mass planting of them, including a patch in your pollinator garden may very well prove to be a hit.
Magellan Series are dwarf varieties with big blooms. They grow about a foot high and spread about 2′ feet. Their blooms are a whopping 5″ inches across, which is a great choice for limited garden space.
Available varieties include Magellan Ivory, Magellan Pink, and Magellan Cherry. Choose one or mix and match for a gorgeous, multicolored show all summer long.
Profusion Zinnias are a dwarf variety that seems quite popular with butterflies. Make a border around your pollinator garden, or if you are limited to porch or balcony space, plant them in railing boxes, window boxes, or hanging baskets. This will make them easier for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to find.
Dreamland is another small variety that tops out at about a foot high and produces Dahlia-like 4-inch blooms.
Mix and match or choose from Dreamland Pink, Dreamland Yellow, and Dreamland Coral.
Zinnita is a very small double-blooming variety that typically grows only 7″ or 8″ inches high. The blooms are about 2″ inches across.
This plant has a thick, bushy growth habit and can be encouraged to produce more blooms all summer long with regular deadheading.
Pretty little Zinnita is available in white, orange, and scarlet.
Peter Pan is a compact double-flowered choice that attains a height of twelve inches and produces multicolored blooms between 3″ and 4″ inches across.
It has attractive, broad, deep green foliage and is especially easy to grow from seed.
10 Tips For Successfully Planting And Growing Zinnias
Zinnias are easy to grow and easy to care for. You can start zinnia seeds indoors several weeks before your last predicted freeze or directly sow them into the soil immediately afterward. Either way, you are sure to have a great success rate.
Follow these tips:
- Choose a sunny location for your zinnia bed. These summer bloomers like full sun.
- Choose a warm location where the temperature will ideally maintain a steady 74° to 84° degrees Fahrenheit.
- Amend the soil so it is light, airy, and well-draining with a pH level ranging from 5.5 to 7.5.
- Cover the seeds lightly with less than a quarter inch of loose soil.
- When your seedlings have emerged and attained a height of 3″ inches, thin them to allow enough room for growth and spread.
- Leave about 6″ to 18″ inches between individual plants.
- If planting seedlings out into the garden, place rows a couple of feet apart with individual plants 6″ inches apart in each row.
- To have lots of blooms all season, sow zinnia seeds in succession. When your first sown seeds have reached 3″ inches, sow more between them. You can also sow zinnia seeds between seedlings that you plant out in the garden.
- Fertilize with low nitrogen, controlled-release fertilizer at planting time.
- Deadhead blooms, keep foliage pruned and thin plants as needed to maintain good air circulation and prevent problems with powdery mildew.
- If you notice powdery mildew on your plants, you may be able to stop it in its tracks by treating it with a mild spray solution of plain water and baking soda, skim milk, or hydrogen peroxide.
Pollinator-Friendly Zinnias Deliver Long-Lasting Beauty
Easy breezy zinnias make wonderful beginner plants. A small amount of skill and care can result in a very successful and beautiful spring and summertime pollinator garden.
These bright, cheery bloomers also make a great addition to the veggie garden. Mixed amongst the rows, they draw beneficial insects to your vegetable patch.
Their long bloom season and bright colors make them a great choice to add long-lasting color to your landscape.