Seed Zinnias for Great Cut Flowers

A bed of zinnias is one of the best cut flowers to grow for summer color

A bed of zinnias is one of the best cut flowers to grow for summer color.

Close up of one of the many types of zinnia flowers

Close-up of one of the many types of zinnia flowers

Cutting long stems like these for indoor use also encourages flowering

Cutting long stems like these for indoor use also encourages flowering

If you want cut flowers for indoor use, nothing is easier and more rewarding than zinnias. Check any seed rack or seed catalog, and you can get almost any color and size along with various petal shapes. And here are two pluses; they are easy to grow, and the seeds are cheap. I like growing the common zinnia type from seeds, and there is still time to have them bloom this season. In fact, oftentimes my fall zinnias have some of the richest colors.
To grow, follow the seed packet directions, but if I am planting now, I make some slight adjustments for summer seeding. Make sure the soil is well tilled, and when you plant the seeds lightly cover them with soil and keep the soil damp to get good germination. Once they germinate and the first true leaves appear, thin to at least three inches apart. When they start growing in height, fertilize regularly and cut the flowers frequently to keep the heights of the plants under control and encourage more flowering. When cutting them for indoor use, always cut above a cluster of leaves on the stem, as that will be the source of the new flowering stems.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

14 thoughts on “Seed Zinnias for Great Cut Flowers

    • Collecting seeds really varies by plant type. For example to collect the seeds of tomatoes you allow the tomatoes to fully ripen and the clean the pulp off the seed and allow them to dry. For many annuals you allow the flowers to mature on the plant until they produce seeds, then harvest them and separate the excess material from the seeds and allow them to dry before storing them. For zinnias I allow the flowers to dry on the plant and then harvest and shake the dead flower and any seed they produced will fall out. My best advice is to ask about a specific plant and I can help your more.

  1. I have had beautiful Zinnas all summer and been deadheading and saving the flowers. Do I save them for next year or so I sprinkle this year( it’s September)

  2. I have managed to unsuccessfully grow Zinnias! How can that be?

    I have a big planter with Miracle Gro potting soil. I plant a lot of Zinnia seeds. Lots of seedlings come up…and then just “sit there”.

    What am I doing wrong?

    • This is no right answer I am afraid to your question. Once the seedlings germinated did they produce any true zinnia leaves. If they did not was probably a result of ‘damping off’ which can commonly be caused from over watering. If they produced true zinnia leaves they probably needed thinning. If the leaves started shriveling it was probably lack of water. At least one of these might be your problem. Try again. Zinnia seeds are cheap. Hope you will be successful on the second try.

  3. I love zinnias, they are one of my favorite flowers. I have had great success transplanting volunteers to new locations after they emerge in the spring. I have not tried summer planting, but I have a lot of seed I gather from last year and plan to do so this weekend. Thanks for the tips!

  4. This is good to know because every year mine get the ugly leaves from the bottom up… I have grown from seed but always transplanted them to different beds… Could that have the same affect? This year I thinned then but left them in the bed they were sown in… So far I haven’t seen the leaves getting brown and crispy.

  5. I have found when zinnias are directly seeded there is very little occurrence of the blight that too frequently appears on transplants. No more battling with fungicides or cutting off ugly foliage! I collect seed from my zinnias every fall and depend on the volunteers that pop up in late Spring to fill in spaces. What a great cut flower I

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