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Bee visits a Zinnia flower

Growing Zinnias: A Beginner’s Guide to Cultivating Colorful Cut Flowers

Zinnias embody the vibrancy and ease of summer gardening, making them an ideal choice for gardening enthusiasts looking to cultivate their own cut flowers. These blooms not only add a splash of color to your garden but also to your home when used as cut flowers. Here’s a simplified guide to growing zinnias, ensuring a blooming garden from summer to fall.

Choosing the Right Spot

Zinnias growing in a row on a flower farm

What You Will Need:
  • A sunny spot in your garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily.
  • Well-draining soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.

Zinnias thrive in the warmth of summer, requiring a location that offers full sun. The optimal time to plant zinnias is after the last frost, typically around April 15th in the Fraser Valley. For those eager to see their blooms sooner, starting seeds indoors in mid-March is a feasible approach. Transplant the seedlings carefully into your garden after April 15th to avoid any late frost damage.

Planting Your Seeds

To plant, gently press the seed into the soil to a depth approximately the length of a fingernail and space them about a hand’s width apart. Zinnias are prompt sprouters, with the first set of leaves typically appearing within a week.

Initial watering might be unnecessary due to spring rains, but if the soil appears dry, a gentle watering will do the trick. Remember, zinnias prefer to stay on the drier side rather than being overwatered.

Two women gather around buckets of Zinnia flowers

Care and Maintenance

Encouraging Growth

Once your zinnias reach about 8 inches in height, employ the “pinch back” method for a fuller plant. Simply snip the top 4 inches of the plant above a leaf set. This encourages the plant to produce multiple stems, which may require staking if they become top-heavy.

During the peak of summer, regular watering will keep your zinnias thriving, especially in the heat. If you’re not cutting flowers for arrangements, make sure to deadhead the plants to promote continuous blooming. Also, be mindful of the variety of zinnias you choose, as plant height varies significantly among the hundreds of available varieties.

Photo credit: @huds0nhawk

Harvesting and Enjoying Your Blooms

Harvesting zinnias for arrangements is both an art and a science. Follow these tips for the best results:
  • Perform the “wiggle test”: Blooms are ready when the stem is firm, not floppy.
  • Cut the stem low to encourage the growth of more long stems.
  • Remove all leaves and buds from the stem to focus the plant’s energy.
  • Harvest in the early morning and allow the flowers to hydrate in cool water, ideally in a cool room.

Keep your zinnia arrangements fresh by changing the water regularly, as zinnias can make the vase water murky. Click the link below to find a homemade flower food recipe and additional tips to keep your cut flowers vibrant for longer.

Bonus: Homemade Flower Food Recipe & Care Tips

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a garden full of vibrant zinnias and bring the beauty of summer indoors with stunning floral arrangements. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new to the hobby, zinnias offer a rewarding and colorful gardening experience.


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