Since I first started growing flowers, a lot has changed. However, one thing which has remained constant is my love of zinnia flowers. Zinnias were the first flowers that I ever grew – eventually, leading to a full-on garden obsession. Though they are generally extremely easy to grow, I’m frequently asked how to get started. In this post, I’ll attempt to answer some of the most common questions related to growing zinnias from seed.
Zinnias are wonderful in that they allow for quite a bit of versatility at planting time. Zinnias will definitely grow well when direct sowed in a well-prepared garden bed – after the last frost has passed, of course. However, there are many reasons why a grower may not want to do this. Some of the seed for the varieties of zinnia that I grow for cut flowers can be on the expensive side. A high price tag and low seed count per packet is the main reason that I always sow my seeds into trays. Over the years, I have done so using a modified version of the winter sowing method which uses a low tunnel. Winter sowing bottles work just as well and can yield wonderful results. This seed starting technique is excellent for first time or beginner growers. More information regarding the winter sowing method can be found here on the blog through search. There’s also a “Complete Winter Sowing Guide” available on the FRESHCUTKY YouTube channel. In general, I usually begin “winter sowing” my zinnia seeds about 2-4 weeks before my last frost date. After germination, don’t forget to monitor temperatures and protect the seedlings from cold.
Once the plants have a few sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted. Transplanting early will be key, as zinnias can sometimes struggle with transplant shock. Though problematic at times, I find that my plants usually recover quickly and resume growth. Maintaining consistent moisture as the plants become established will be important, as well.
Once the plants are growing strong, pinching the zinnias is an option. Pinching zinnias simply refers to the removal of the growth tip to promote branching. Branching is a great way to ensure that plants are able to produce the most blooms. It is absolutely not necessary to pinch zinnias. In fact, I never pinch the flowers in my yard. Pinching the zinnia plants can also delay the bloom of the plants by about 1-2 weeks.
Despite the fact that I don’t pinch my plants, zinnias can reach amazing heights in just one growing season. It is for this reason that staking has become a necessity. When plants reach about 2 ft. high, I secure a layer of horizontal trellis netting across the row. Over time, the plants will continue to grow up through the netting. This helps them to remain upright the entire growing season and keeps the stems nice and straight for use as cut flowers.
Beyond planting, care for zinnias is relatively easy. In my growing zone, they seldom require additional water during the summer – aside from prolonged periods of drought. Fertilizer can also be used, but I find that my zinnias are perfectly content when grown in beds that have been well-amended with a quality finished compost. This cut and come again beauty is truly a valuable asset in my backyard garden.
Have you ever grown zinnias before? What did you think? I’d love to hear all about your experiences in the comments below. Thank you so much for stopping by!