Zinnia is a genus of plants of the tribe Heliantheae within the family Asteraceae. They are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, with a centre of diversity in Mexico. Members of the genus are notable for their solitary long-stemmed flowers that come in a variety of bright colors. The genus name honors German master botanistJohann Gottfried Zinn (1727–59).

Most species have upright stems but some have a lax habit with spreading stems that mound over the surface of the ground. The leaves are opposite and usually stalkless (sessile), with a shape ranging from linear to ovate, and a color ranging from pale to medium green. The flowers have a range of appearances, from a single row of petals to a dome shape. Zinnias may be white, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, purple, or lilac.

Table of Contents


1 - 4 feet

Width-Circumference (Avg)

12 - 18 inches

Approximate pH

5.5 - 7.5

Types of Zinnias

The most popular zinnia species is Zinnia elegans, which has been bred to produce a great number of unique varieties.

There are three main kinds of zinnia flowers: single, semidouble, or double. The distinction between these forms comes from the number of rows of petals and whether or not the center of the flower is visible:

  • Single-flowered zinnias have a single row of petals and a visible center.

  • Double-flowered zinnias have numerous rows of petals and their centers are not visible.

  • Semidouble-flowered zinnias are somewhere in-between, with numerous rows of petals but visible centers.

In addition to these forms, zinnia flowers come in a number of shapes, including “beehive,” “button,” and “cactus.” The plants themselves also come in different heights: taller varieties are best for the background of a garden bed, while shorter varieties work well along a border.


Cactus Flower Mix: This beautiful zinnia cultivar offers quill-like, narrow, curved petals in various shades of pink, scarlet, orange, yellow, and white.

Big Red: ‘Big Red’ displays big scarlet blooms and flowers fast in just 30-35 days after germination in favorable conditions. The blossoms fade to deep orange with time.

Color Crackle: Also known as Mexican zinnia, ‘Color Crackle’ showcases bicolor show through burgundy and white bicolor one to two-inch double blossoms.

California Giant Mix: ‘California Giant’ boasts 5-6 inches across blossoms in yellow, pink, red, and orange hues. This variety takes a bit longer time to mature than other cultivars.

Double Zahara Yellow: ‘Double Zahara Yellow’ exhibits double, large, globe-type bright yellow blooms on tall stems. It is one of the Best Types of Zinnia Varieties!

Crystal White: ‘White’ from the crystal series offer daisy-like flowers, white petals, and a yellow center. Orange and yellow petaled zinnias are also pretty options.

Dahlia Flower Mix: This heirloom variety was introduced in 1919. It forms flowers packed with downward curving petals on long stems–the large blooms look adorable.

Envy: If you desire green flowers, then this is for you! This heirloom variety of Zinnia elegans shows off bright chartreuse petals on pretty blossoms with a yellow center.

Peppermint Stick: ‘Peppermint Stick’ stands out with stripes and flecks, a colorful fusion showcasing blooms mottled in red and white. You can also find it in combos of scarlet, pink, crimson, yellow, and orange.

Queeny Lime Orange: This new Zinnia elegans cultivar won the All America Selections Award in 2018 and a Fleuroselect Gold Medal. It flaunts distinct tricolor blooms that flourish best in full sun.

Profusion Cherry: It is a Zinnia elegans x Angustifolia hybrid that features cherry red single blossoms with yellow centers. ‘Profusion Cherry’ is an All America Selection gold medal winner in the flower category in 1999 and Fleuroselect Gold Medal and Novelty Award winner.

State Fair Mix: ‘State Fair Mix’ displays a show of color in audacious hues of yellow, orange, rose, rust, purple, and gold. In favorable conditions, it can grow quite tall.

Swizzle Ivory and Cherry: You will adore the starburst effects of ‘Ivory and Cherry.’ This beautiful dwarf variety from the Swizzle series boasts four-inch, big, semi-double flowers.

Zowie Yellow Flame: This zinnia variety resembles famous summertime bloomer gaillardia. ‘Yellow Flame’ offers semi-double blossoms that are scarlet at the base of the petals and orange at the tips.

Zinderella Lilac: This pompom, fluffy blossoms look adorable in pastel pink and purple, fully double and semi-double plumed cultivar of Z. scabiosa. It has also won the Fleuroselect Novelty Award.

Pop Art: ‘Pop Art’ shows off large, golden blooms speckled with red on tall stems, the blossoms last long in water and make for superb cut flowers.

Purple Prince: This tall cultivar shows off stunning double blooms in magenta with a lime green center. You can grow it with tall-growing annuals or fill the gaps in borders.

Soleado: ‘Soleado’ carries masses of single orange blooms on sturdy stems. You can grow it easily as this cultivar is tolerant to rain and flowers till the first frost.

Aztec Sunset: This variety bears double blooms in a range of colors on bushy dwarf plants. It also has good water resistance. You can grow it on a sunny border or plant it on the patio in pots.

Red Spider: ‘Red Spider Zinnia’ is a dainty, spider-like variety with scalloped blooms in a fierce red hue. It is one of the Best Types of Zinnia Varieties!

Early Wonder: This Zinnia variety offers a blend of single and semi-double blooms in bright pink and yellow to red shades.

Queen Red Lime: This beautiful zinnia displays red blooms with lime tips to each petal border. Grow it to fill gaps in borders or containers.

Sprite Mix: ‘Sprite Mix’ boasts semi-double blooms in red, pink, and orange-yellow. It makes for great cut flowers too!

Planting Zinnia

Choosing a location that gets full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day) is essential to getting plentiful blooms throughout the season. Additionally, a site that offers good air circulation will help to prevent foliar diseases such as powdery mildew later in the season.

Zinnias are able to adapt to most soil conditions, but the ideal soil will be rich in organic matter and well-draining. Soil pH should ideally be between 5.5 and 7.5. If soil is amended with compost (humus), the flowers will grow more quickly. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.

When to Plant Zinnias

  • It’s recommended that you grow zinnia from seed right in the garden bed, as they do not like to be transplanted. From seed, they will grow very quickly in the right conditions.

  • Note: Zinnias can be started from seed indoors if you prefer—just transplant them while they’re young and do so carefully.

  • Zinnias are sensitive to frost, so do not seed until the last frost has passed in your area. See your local frost dates.

  • Zinnias will grow in a minimum daytime temperature of about 60°F (16°C), though a range of 74–84°F (23–28°C) is preferred.

  • Sow a round of seeds every week or so for several weeks to extend the flowering period.

How to Plant Zinnias

  • Space plants 4 to 24 inches apart, depending on variety. (Many common varieties are planted 6 inches apart within the row and 2 feet in between rows.) See back of seed packet for variety-specific advice.

  • Sow zinnia seeds only about 1/4-inch deep.

  • You’ll see zinnia seedlings in only 4 to 7 days for most varieties, though it will be anywhere from several weeks to a couple months before blooms appear (depending on planting site and climate).

  • When seedlings reach three inches tall, thin them so that they’re 6 to 18 inches apart to maximize air circulation. This reduces the chance of powdery mildew developing.

Zinnia Care

Zinnias are one of the few plants that are true annuals. Many plants labeled as annuals are actually perennials that are only hardy in the warmest hardiness zones, but zinnias will be annuals everywhere.

There are spreading and dwarf zinnias that only grow about 6 to 8-inches tall, and the classic zinnia elegans can reach 4-feet tall.

Zinnia plants can take a few weeks to become established, but once it warms up, expect them to bloom from late spring right through fall. The vibrant, tropical colors of zinnias work well in a hot border, picking up the hues of other reds and oranges. They are also nice for adding dramatic color to a container.

The tall zinnia elegans is still a favorite for the back of the border, but new varieties, like the Thumbelina series, grow only about 6-inches tall and make great choices as edging plants or in containers.


You really want to plant zinnias in a spot with full sun. You will get the most prolific blooms in a sunny spot and it will help to keep the leaves dry and thwart powdery mildew before it starts.


The only real soil requirement is that it be well-draining. Zinnias roots do not like to sit in damp soil and excess moisture improves their chances of getting powdery mildew. It helps to have a soil pH in the neutral range, but it's not mandatory.


Zinnias are very drought tolerant and don't usually need any supplemental watering. If your soil is poor, you can add some compost to give the plants a boost, but they will grow in even bad soil.

Temperature and Humidity

It doesn't matter how hot the summer gets; zinnia plants just keep on blooming.


Zinnias are easy-going plants, needing only occasional feeding with a well-balanced fertilizer.


  • Zinnias generally take 60 to 70 days from seed to flower (though it depends on conditions and variety). They work great in a flower bouquet!

Pruning and Propagating Zinnias


You can deadhead zinnias for a longer blooming period, but it's not absolutely necessary. They may pause flowering for a while, but they'll start up again.

Propagating Zinnias

There are a couple of ways to propagate zinnias: by division, using already established plants, or with cuttings.


Zinnias are annuals, and the only way to keep them going through the winter is to dig them up and bring them inside.

Pests and Diseases

It is rare for zinnias to be bothered by insects and most four-footed animals show no interest in them.

Some varieties can be very prone to powdery mildew. It's ugly, but it's unlikely to really harm your plants. To cure, clip back the parts of the plant that are affected. Then, apply a fungicide with neem oil, potassium bicarbonate, copper, or sulfur.

Benefits of Zinnia

Nectar-rich zinnias are wonderful pollinators and will attract bees during their growing season, from May until October. They also attract ladybugs, Japanese Beetles, hummingbirds and wasps. Zinnias can be planted anywhere in a garden. Japanese beetles love beans, so if you plant zinnias around your beans, the beetles will be drawn to the annual flowers, saving your beans from an infestation.

If you like fresh cut flowers, then growing zinnias in your garden is a must-have. When zinnias are properly cut and in a vase, they will last anywhere from days to weeks. The vibrant colors of zinnias bring a warmth to any room in a home.

Zinnias are a great addition to any flower bed for gardeners looking for a low maintenance flower. Zinnias are easy to grow and, with a one-season lifespan, you can collect seeds after the flower cycle has ended for future plantings and seasons.

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