Plant Zinnia Flowers for a Rainbow of Color

Updated: Mar. 20, 2023

Annual zinnia flowers fill your yard with color, and they are so easy to grow. Zinnia seeds will give you flower power all season long!

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Zinnia Flowers: Care and Growing Tips

250854802 1 Jamie Trouskie Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Jamie Trouskie
Zinnia flowers are annuals that provide an explosion of garden color.

With heights from 6 inches to 3 feet, there’s a zinnia (Zinnia elegans) for every garden. They are a cheerful addition to any backyard. Use the smaller types as edging plants and larger varieties in the back of beds. Some zinnia flowers can even work as barriers or privacy screens.

Incredibly simple to grow, zinnias bloom quickly—going from seed to bloom in just two to three months. Tiny seedlings show up in mere days after direct sowing and watering, with long-lasting flowers appearing about six weeks later. With a few packets of zinnia seeds, you can create a summer-long parade of colors. All you need is a sunny spot to plant them. Zinnias also grow well in containers.

Flowers don’t get much more low-maintenance than zinnias. They need almost zero care during the growing season and can even thrive near black walnut trees. Just make sure you select disease-resistant varieties to avoid powdery mildew if the disease is a problem in your area. Newer zinnia cultivars, such as the Profusion series, are a perfect option for gardeners who have previously lost zinnias to powdery mildew.

“I bought some zinnia seed mix that you just spread on top of the ground and now I’ve got tons of blooms! This is only a small picture of all  the blooms (above). Bumblebees have all ready been pollinating them. I love zinnia flowers because they come in multiple colors and the butterflies and hummingbirds love them, too,” says Birds & Blooms reader Jamie Trouskie of Central Square, New York.

Are Zinnias Annuals or Perennials?

253025091 1 Jessie Buchholz Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Jessie Buchholz
Monarch butterfly on a pink zinnia

Native to Mexico, zinnias are annual flowers, not perennials, but they’ll keep blooming from summer through fall, until the first frost.

Check out the top 10 fast-growing annual flowers.

Pollinator Favorites

250301890 1 Jackie Latham Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Jackie Latham
Goldfinches love zinnia seeds.

Zinnia is a pollinator garden go-to for gardeners. Hummingbirds sip nectar from the central florets. This versatile plant also has seed heads that attract sparrows, finches and juncos later in the growing season. This annual also is bee-friendly, attracting honeybees, bumblebees and some solitary bees. Butterflies adore these flowers, too. Plant zinnias in drifts for a stunning effect.

“These colorful flowers attract lots of butterflies and hummingbirds in the summer months. Goldfinches also visit zinnias once they go to seed in fall,” says reader Linda Barnes of New London, Ohio.

Check out the top 10 annuals that attract hummingbirds.

Zinnia Colors

251817019 1 Teresa Miller Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Teresa Miller
Zinnias make excellent cut flowers for bouquets.

Like sunflowers, zinnias come in dozens of varieties. These cheerful bloomers are available in almost every color imaginable. With such a range of hues—red, yellow, orange, pink, lavender, white—you’ll never run out of ideas and combinations to try. If you’re planning a rainbow of flower colors and need green, choose Queen Lime, Envy or Tequila Lime.

Because of their vibrance, zinnias are bouquet favorites and ideal for your cutting garden. Just snip a handful of the blooms to create indoor arrangements for your kitchen counter.

Next, learn how to grow cosmos flowers and sweet alyssum.