My Favorite Must-Grow Zinnias & Zinnia Growing Tips
If you’ve been following my blog or social media for any amount of time, you know I am a huge fan of zinnias! Why? Because they are easy to grow, have an incredible vase life, require little work, are STUNNING with their ruffled petals, and are the foundation of our flower farm summer market bouquets. Over the years I’ve tried growing many different varieties of zinnias and today I’m sharing my top three favorite seed varieties.
Click here to read more about getting started with a cut flower garden and how to plan!
Oklahoma: Oklahoma zinnias are a smaller, more compact zinnia variety with strong stems and consistent production. And the best part—they are resistant to powdery mildew unlike some of the other varieties. I grow Oklahoma Pink, Carmine and Salmon.
Benary’s Giant: You can’t go wrong with Benary’s Giant zinnias. Ever! They are the biggest of the zinnia family producing 4-5″ blooms all season long on incredibly tall, strong stems. It’s not uncommon to have plants shoulder high, and even with this crazy size we’ve never had to corral or stake them. I like to mix Carmine Rose, Bright Pink and Wine to create a vibrant pink mix.
Queen Series: All hail the queen! Truly. I believe the Queen series takes the cake with its color blends and antique, muted shades. Plus, they feature long, sturdy stems, lasting vase life, and decent disease resistance. Queen Lime and Queen Red Lime have stolen my heart and it’s impossible to ever grow enough of these gorgeous varieties. I purchase my Queen Series seeds from both Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., they are extremely high quality!
Growing and Maintenance Tips for Zinnias
Spacing & Successive Plantings
I space our zinnias 9″ apart and, due to their proximity, powdery mildew can start creeping in around August. We combat the powdery mildew by sowing 2-3 successions of zinnias. This helps in creating a constant flush of new, fresh blooms so we have a new batch blooming if the powdery mildew overtakes the first. Spraying a copper spray (classified as organic), can also help but we try not to spray whenever we can. I start the first succession indoors and direct sow the rest.
I’m often asked about how to support zinnias throughout the growing season. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to stake or support ours. Many of the varieties will grow up to 4-5′ tall and because of their sturdy stalks, support is not needed.
Pinching & Harvesting
This is my secret to growing long stems on most cut flowers. When the plants are about 12-18” tall, snip out the center growing bud down about two sets of leaves. This not only encourages longer stems but also encourages plants to branch out from the base, ultimately creating MORE stems for cutting. I also cut deep (around 18” down from the flower) when harvesting zinnia stems which means I may sacrifice a side bud or two, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful stems and the extra branching. If not harvesting regularly, make sure you stay on top of deadheading. Zinnias will produce like crazy until the first frost if well-maintained!
Keeping Your Cut Zinnias Fresh
This secret is one of my favorite flower tips! To tell whether a zinnia is ready to harvest, grab the stem about 6” down from the bloom and give it a gentle shake. If the stem is droopy, or bends at all when swaying, it is not ready to be cut. If the stem remains stiff and sturdy when shaken, go ahead and cut.
Harvest zinnias in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, which can stress the flowers. Remove all lower foliage and place stems directly in a bucket of room temperature water. Put them in a cool, dark place (for me it’s my garage) for a few hours to allow them a good long drink and a refresh. Zinnias will last up to 10 days in a vase when fed with a floral preservative and given a daily water change.
I hope I’ve inspired you to bring color into your garden with these zinnia favorites. You won’t be disappointed! Their hardy longevity as a cut flower will make a believer out of you! Please share your successes with me. I’d love to know what varieties made your heart sing!