Zinnias are a very bright and cheery bunch of flowers and they make an ace inclusion in the vegetable garden. The colourful flowers attract bees, hoverflies and butterflies and you can choose from a range of white, yellow and orange to pink, purple, red and multi-coloured flowers. Great for getting kids started on sowing and growing, Zinnias are very easy to grow from seed and can handle a wide range of situations and soil types. Dwarf varieties grow to around a foot in height but you can also get flowers close to waist height with varieties like Zinnia angustifolia.
Sow or plant in early spring and summer countrywide when all risk of frosts has passed.
Zinnias grow best in full sun where they are most likely to tolerate a range of different soil types.
Zinnias are fairly adaptable and can grow on most soils that have reasonable drainage and do not get too water-logged. If your soil is sticky then dig in coarse sand or fine pumice to help improve drainage – or plant Zinnias in pots.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost or directly into the garden or proposed container. Thin seedlings as they develop to suit the growth size of your chosen variety.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at a spacing appropriate for the chosen variety. I usually dot them around the vegetable garden along with the likes of Calendula and French Marigolds and plant them on bed corners and at the end of rows.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Once they are established and starting to grow you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out. Plants will wilt to let you know its time to get the watering can out.
Picking flowers encourages more to be produced so enjoy them in displays on the kitchen table.
As an annual, Zinnias will die at the onset of winter in cooler areas whereas in warmer parts of the country you can expect plants to hang on a bit longer. They will self seed if allowed. Plants can keel over after an energetic explosion of flowers so sow a few plants every few weeks to keep fresh flowering plants going right through the season.