The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Growing Colorful Zinnias from Seeds

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I didn’t think it was possible but I have a new favorite flower, zinnias! This summer I decided to try something new and plant zinnias from seed. We have two raised garden beds that were just begging me to plant flowers in them. I have heard that zinnias are the easiest flower to grow and these days, I am all about the easy! So, after much research and fabulous results myself, I am ready to share with you all my lazy girl’s guide to growing colorful zinnias from seeds!

The Lazy girl's guide to planting colorful zinnias from seed

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Disclaimer

Just to be clear, I am by no means a flower expert. I just love getting my hands dirty and sharing what works for me in hopes that it will work for you too. I encourage you to do zinnia research like I did (mainly on google and Pinterest) to see how they will best work for you and your garden zone. We live in northern Colorado which is zone 5b, but these tips are very general and will work for all zones.

Are Zinnias Really That Easy to Grow?

The answer my friends is, yes! These gorgeous flowers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and they are literally effortless. 

After planting my zinnias on Mother’s Day I waited less than 2 months for blooms and they are still going strong. I love cutting them and sending them home with everyone who visits as well as sprinkling them around inside our home too.

Would you believe me if I told you that they are taller than me? It’s true! I’m  5’ 4”  and even though they are in two raised garden beds,  these beauties are as tall or taller than me. Talk about statement flowers!

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Growing Colorful Zinnias from Seeds

Starting zinnia seeds outdoors was the method I used and after much research seems to be the easiest. These seeds grow in almost all zones as long as you pay attention to the season. We live in Colorado  so I planted mine on Mother’s Day as it is best to make sure that the last frost has already occurred. 

A colorful mix of zinnia seeds in a bag!

How Do You Start Zinnia Seeds Outdoors?

  1. First buy your seeds. I used a bag of Earth Science Zinnia Mix seeds which is great for beginners or lazy gardeners like me. This bag was a 3 in 1 mixture, meaning it had seeds, fertilizer and soil improvement all in the bag. 
  2. Next, find a space that has full sun for up to 6 hours a day. Zinnias aren’t too picky about their conditions as long as they have sun…just another reason why I love them. 
  3. Then,  prepare your soil. To prepare my soil I cleaned out the old debris, mixed in some all natural raised bed and potting mix that was organic and gave it a good watering.  That’s it! 
  4. After the soil is ready make sure that you have a drip or watering system set up for consistent watering. Zinnias love moist soil and it is always best to water them at the base of the plant.
  5. Then, sprinkle or directly sow your seeds where you want them and cover with more organic material or mulch. They should only be ¼ of an inch deep. 

Your seed packets will have spacing guidelines to follow or you can scatter them as you like. In about 2-3 weeks you should see seedlings popping out! Blooms will vary and depend on your climate, but I saw blooms 6 weeks after planting.

The lazy girl's guide to planting colorful zinnias from seeds.

Can I just Scatter Zinnia Seeds?

I love that zinnia seeds can be scattered or evenly placed in your soil. It is recommended that they be planted ¼ inch deep in moist soil. Most packets say that you space seeds about 6 inches apart, with rows at least 12 inches apart. These recommendations allow for proper airflow and ample spacing. You can follow spacing guidelines on the seed packages if you like. 

But remember how I said this was the lazy girl’s guide to planting zinnia seeds?

I seriously just scattered them all over our two raised beds and they are doing just fine. Actually, they are thriving! There are pluses and minuses to this though.

The plus is that they will grow nice and full and you will have that full cottage flower feel. So dreamy!

The downside to just scattering seeds is that it is hard to weed them after they get huge and sometimes they can choke out the smaller flowers due to lack of  sun or airflow needed. 

So the short answer is yes! Scatter those seeds or space them. It’s truly up to you and the look you are going for. The zinnias will still do their thing. These flowers seem to be fool proof!

Two flower beds full of zinnia seeds in bloom.

Where Should I Buy Zinnia Seeds?

This is a great question! There are so many options for where to buy your zinnia seeds. I bought mine from O’Toole’s Garden Center here in Colorado and chose this variety in a bag.

Remember, I’m all about keeping things easy. 

Some of my very experienced flower gardening friends like Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill and Kim from Shiplap and Shells, buy from on-line seed companies. Below you can find some links for you! I think I will try a few from Floret next year if I can remember to get them before they sell out.

Should I Soak Zinnia Seeds Before Planting?

Soaking your seeds is up to you. I did not soak my seeds before planting and have found no difference in germination rates or times. 

I would say do not soak them any longer than 4-6 hours right before you plant them.

How Deep Do Zinnia Seeds Need to be Planted?

Zinnias need to be planted at least ¼ inch deep into the soil. 

zinnia seedlings

How Long Does It Take for Zinnias to Grow From Seed?

Zinnias usually take about 2 months from seed to flower. This will vary depending on your weather/ climate though.

When Should I plant Zinnia Seeds?

You should always plant zinnia seeds after the last frost. They do not like cold soil at all! You can look up the last frost for your specific area here: Farmers Almanac 

If you want to start them earlier you can always do that by starting them indoors. Kim from Shiplap and Shells has a fabulous tutorial. But like I mentioned, I’m lazy and this seems like a bit more work.

Do they need full sun?

The answer to this is a resounding YES! Zinnias need full sun and do best with 6-8 hours of full sun.

A butterffly on a beautiful zinnia bloom!

What Zones do Zinnias Grow In?

Zinnias grow in almost all zones. Can I get an AMEN? Just one more reason I love these beautiful flowers. 

According to the USDA they can grow in zones 2-11!

How Can I Make Sure My Zinnias Bloom in the Fall?

To make sure your zinnias bloom in the fall there are two options:

  1. Sow new seeds directly into the ground in 2-3 week increments. This will space out the blooming time and help prolong your blooms well into the fall.
  2. Make sure to prune or deadhead your zinnias. This will encourage your flowers to create longer stems and more flowers! The more you cut the more they will grow.
A pretty pink zinnia

Where Do You Cut Zinnias for Regrowth?

This was the exact question I asked my friend Charla from, Gardening With Charla over on Instagram. She was so kind and sent me this amazing picture.

Where to cut your zinnias for optimal regrowth.

She said it is best to cut them just above the node. She has a fantastic video showing this over on her Instagram page that you can check here. She is a must follow if you love all things gardening and flowers.

How Tall do Zinnias Get?

There are two sizes of zinnias. There are the dwarf varieties which are about 6-12 inches in height. These are great for garden beds and in front of larger flowers.

Then there are the larger varieties which are taller, anywhere from 4ft tall and 2 feet wide. These are what I planted and the taller ones are perfect for cut flowers. 

Just make sure to check the seed packets for full details!

Zinnias can grow upwards of four feet tall!

What Can I Use to Fertilize My Zinnias?

Zinnias love organic materials but do not require fertilizer. However, you can use compost, mulch or even fertilizer made specifically for cut flowers or raised garden beds. I used TRU Organic liquid all purpose plant food just once on my flowers by adding it to my watering can. 

Fertilizer for cut flowers

Do Zinnias Self Seed?

Zinnias can sometimes self seed and you will occasionally see a them pop up the following year, however they are annuals which means they need to be planted each year. 

I have been drying my zinnias after they are done in my flower arrangements. I plan to save the seeds to use next year as well!

Drying zinnia blooms with seeds ready to harvest.
Zinnias are even pretty when you dry them!

To harvest seeds just shake the seeds loose, add to a bag and keep them in a cool dark place until the next season.

Can You Grow Zinnias in Pots?

Yes you can but it is best to grow the dwarf variety if you plan to have them in pots. However, if you have huge pots then go for the taller ones. No matter their size or location they will always be a statement piece in your garden.

Zinnias on our outdoor table
Zinnias make the best cut flowers and can last up to a week in a vase!

I can’t wait to add them to several more spaces in our yard next year!

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Growing Colorful Zinnias from Seeds

Thank you for being patient as I took my time getting this lazy girl’s guide to growing colorful zinnias from seeds post out. Hopefully I have answered your questions and convinced you that you need zinnias in your yard or garden.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions and I will get back to you! In the meantime you can check out my garden favorites HERE!

I’d love to have you hang out with me some more! Feel free to follow along with me on any of the platforms linked below and visit these other gardening posts of mine.

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xoxo,

Kelly

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The lazy girl's guide to planting zinnias

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16 Comments

  1. I love zinnias and have started them from seed every year. This spring they were eaten by baby slugs as soon as they sprouted. I mentioned to save a few but I was so disappointed 😞. Next year I will start them later in the spring and maybe inside till they are bigger when I transplant them in their permanent garden bed.

  2. I saw that Floret is having an online seed presale in September, I will check that out. Thanks for all the helpful details, your zinnias look fabulous!

  3. I’m all about the lazy girl’s guide! I seated zinnias from seed this year and still need some practice! Thanks for sharing your tips!

  4. Kelly!! I love Zinnias and I’ve been swooning over your zinnia beds this year! Our garden isn’t as full as it usually is this year, so I’ve been watching yours ❤️ XoXo

  5. Oh, I’m a true zinnia lover! I plant them every year and use our local compost company for organic mulch and compost…this year they were late opening and the zinnias reseeded! As full and as tall as they were last year! Insane! My tip for growing them here is they love soaker hoses for watering much better than overhead watering AND I have learned to add supports so that storms don’t lay those 7’ babies down! Loved reading this today!!

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your tips Leslie! I too use a soaker hose and agree, this is such a good method. So glad to have that confirmed. I’m hoping mine will reseed too. Enjoy your flowers!

  6. This has encouraged me to give it a go, Kelly! Your zinnias are so lovely and I can only imagine enjoying fresh flowers from the garden straight into the home.
    Grateful for you always,
    Brendt

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