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Posted by Faye Green

The benefits of zinnias? They bloom all summer long and invite birds and butterflies to your garden. Also, COLOR.

Few things bring back childhood for me more than my grandmother’s flower garden. The clove-scent of Sweet William (dianthus), tangy marigolds, and of course, her beloved zinnias. They colored our world all season until frost. The chill of late autumn was the only thing that could stop them.

My grandmother’s zinnias were always tall, reminiscent of the ‘State Fair’ varieties with huge blooms that make for a bold presence.

Today gardeners who love zinnias have many more choices—of variety as well as of color. For instance, in addition to the tall ones, you might choose the smaller ‘Dreamland’ or ‘Thumbelina’ for a mixed border. Most also offer a choice of double or semi-double blooms. I also like ‘Profusion,’ which has the bonus of resistance to mildew, the bane of the zinnia bed, but its blooms are smaller and without as many choices of color. Most other zinnias come in colors that range from white to yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, and multicolored.

Let me emphasize this: Zinnias are among the easiest of all annuals to grow, as long as you give them the most basic of care:

  • Full sun
  • Fertile, loamy, sandy, humus-rich soil, heavily enriched with compost
  • Room for air circulation
  • Temperatures 60 degrees or above
  • Deadheading spent blooms
  • Moderate watering
  • Light fertilizer

Avoid wetting the foliage when possible to prevent disease (There’s that powdery mildew again.)

Did I say “full sun”? I was totally serious about that.


  • So, so easy to grow
  • A profusion of daisy-like blooms
  • Good for cut flowers
  • Can take a bit of neglect
  • Wide range of sizes and colors
  • Attracts butterflies


  • Like basil, zinnas resent transplanting. Minimize transplant shock by avoiding disturbing the roots. Don’t tease roots before planting like you do other flowers.
  • Prone to powdery mildew (Avoid crowding.)
  • Vulnerable to spider mites

So with a nod to Grandma Becky, I’ll make sure that a corner of the garden showcases zinnias in her honor.