Zinnias are one of the tried-and-true garden flowers recommended for even the most novice gardener. Ranging from 8″ mounds to rangy 3-4 foot tall bushes, and with flowers in a rainbow of colors, there is something for everyone among the hundreds of cultivars and hybrids that are now available. Flowers may be single, double or semi-double to produce blooms that look like dahlias, cactus flowers, or beehives.
In addition to zinnias’ spectacular garden show where ever you need a burst of color, zinnias are an incredible cut flower. Many varieties of zinnias will last from seven to 12 days in a vase. Zinnias with their brilliant colors, easy care and long vase life are a great cut flower.
To have blooms from early summer to frost, dead head zinnias. Nevertheless, zinnias get tired, so succession plantings of zinnias every two weeks guarantees showy blooms through until frost.
Many zinnias are affected by powdery mildew, especially when humid conditions prevail. Spacing to allow plenty of air circulation will help reduce this problem, and choose resistant varieties.
Cultivars / Varieties
The 13 species in the genus Zinnia are all native to Mexico and adjacent areas but only a few are regularly planted in gardens.
- Zinnia elegans – most common. grows up to three feet tall and has single or double flowers in pink, rose, red, cherry, lavender, purple, orange, salmon, gold, yellow, white, cream or light green. Flowers range in size from 1 to 7 inches and can be solid-colored, multicolored or zoned. Flower shapes include round, domed or ball-shaped, as well as dahlia-like.
- Z. angustifolia (narrow-leaf zinnia) – low-growing species with flower color limited to orange, yellow and white.
- Z. marylandica – developed at the University of Maryland). Cross between Z. elegans and Z. angustifolia. Exhibit some of the best traits of both parents.
- Z. haageana (Mexican zinnia) – up to 18″ and has small 1½ to 2″ flowers on long stems. Flowers may be single or double, solid or bicolor, in red, mahogany, yellow and orange.
- Z. pauciflora (synonym Z. peruviana) – 30″. 1½”, single, red or yellow flowers with button-like centers. Good for cutting and drying, and has powdery mildew resistance.
- Benary’s Giant Dahlia BluePoint Series – 3 ft; The choice of cut flower growers. Giant, florist quality, fully double flowers are produced on long, sturdy stems. Long blooming with excellent disease resistance. Bright Pink, Carmine Rose, Coral, Deep Red, Golden Yellow, Lilac, Lime,Orange, Purple, Salmon Rose, Scarlet, White, Wine.
- Button Box – 10″; Fully double mix, beehive shaped flowers.
- Cactus Flowered – 3 ft; Large flowered semi-double mix of cactus type flowers 4-5″ across.
- Candy – 30″; Large crested double mix of scabiosa-type flowers, bright and fluffy, good cut flower.
- Cresto Series – 30″; 75% with bold crested domes surrounded by a ring of normal broad petals like a ballerina’s tutu; Orange, Red, Yellow. ´
- Cupcakes Series – 32″; Unusual fluffy crested flower form, and several very uniques shades. Numerous 2″ blooms on upright stems. Good cut flower. Cream White, Deep Orange, Pink, Red, Rose, Yellow. Dahlia
- Flowered Gold Medal Series – 3 feet; Large 4″ semi-double flowers, flat petals, good cut flower.Colors: Canary Bird (yellow), Dream (rosy lavender), Miss Willmott (pink), Purity (white), Royal Purple (purple), Will Rogers (scarlet).
- Dreamland Series (F1) – 12″; Dwarf, 3-4″ formal double Dahlia flowers. Coral, Ivory, Pink, Red, Rose, Scarlet, Yellow.
- Envy – 24″; Semi-double chartreuse green, flat petal flowers.
- Inca – 3 feet; Large, extremely cactus-form flowers with double rows of long, spidery petals, brilliant intense orange, maroon-eyed. Good cut flower.
- Macarenia – 30″; Scarlet petals with sharply contrasting golden tips. Very vibrant. Large 3″ mostly double flowers. Good cut flower. Companion to Mazurkia.
- Magellan Series (F1) – 12″; Large elegant full double Dahlia-flowered 3+” blooms. Cherry, Coral (AAS), Ivory, Orange, Pink, Salmon, Scarlet, Yellow.
- Mazurkia – 30″; Ruby red petals with sharply contrasting white tips. Very vibrant. Large 3″ mostly double flowers. Good cutflower. Companion to Macarenia.
- Oklahoma Series – 3 ft; 2″ formal double flowers. Great cut flower. Carmine Rose, Golden Yellow, Pink, Salmon, Scarlet, White.
- Pinca – 36″; Large, bright-pink blooms measure up to 6″ across. Fully double cactus flower type. A prolific bloomer all summer long. Great cut .
- Pop Art Golden and Red – 24″; Impressive bicolor of bright golden-yellow blooms all with bright red blotches or streaks. Medium-sized double flowers. Good cut flower.
- Pop Art White and Red – 24″; Striking bicolor of pure white blooms all with bright red blotches or streaks. Medium-sized 2.5″ double flowers. Good cut flower.
- Pulcino Salmon – 20″; large rounded double flower.
- Pumila Cut & Come Again – 2 feet; Noteworthy heirloom mix that produces small 2-3″ double flowers in shades of cream, pink, salmon, white, yellow & more. Good cut flower.
- Queen Series – 30″; Great cut flower; 3″ fully double blooms. Lime, Lime Blotch, Red Lime, Lime Orange (coral orange with lime green inner petals and red-rose centers, shifted to peachy orange with buttery lime inner ring and scarlet centers).
- Senora – 3 ft; Glowing double salmon pink. Very large 3-4″ double cactus flowers. Good cut flowers.
- Short Stuff Series (F1) – 10″; More dwarf than other zinnias, but still show off large, fully double blooms. Cherry Shades, Coral, Deep Red, Gold, Orange, Scarlet, White.
- State Fair Mix – 4 ft; Giant flowers, extra thick stems, less susceptible to PM & Alt. Great cut flower.
- Sun Series (F1) – 18-24″ container, 32″ garden; giant formal dahlia flowers on hedge forming plants. Extra large flowers, extra full double. ivory, lemon, apricot, Cherry, Gold (AAS), Red (AAS),
- Super Cactus Giant Series – 3 ft; Seven bright colors. Giant flowered tetraploid mix. Quilled cactus-form. Good cutflower,
- Swizzle Series (F1) – 10″; Vibrant bicolor flowers. Full, bushy plants are covered w/large, double blooms. Cherry & Ivory, Scarlet & Yellow.
- Thumbelina – 6″; Elf sized plants for edging or containers, 2″ flowers in mixed pastel shades.
- Topolino Series – 10″; Compact growing, large flowers, a dwarf version of Pulcino w’ same elegant color range & rounded double flower.
- Tudor – 3 feet; Giant Dahlia-flowered type, deep purple. Large fully petalled flowers. Good cut flower.
- Uproar Series (F1) – 32″ spreading to 2 feet; Well branched plants covered with extra large, double blooms. Good cut flower. Rose.
- Yoga Series – 3 feet; Great cut flower, good sized double flower, just right for bouquets. Orange, Purple, Rose, Salmon, Scarlet, White, Yellow.
- Zinderella Series – 25″-32″; Very special tall powderpuff flowers. A rounded mound of small central petals with dark purple eye at center, atop a short “tutu” of broad light colored base petals. Good cut flower. Lilac is 32″, Peach and Purple are 25″, Purple, Orange, Red, White.
- Zinnita Series – 6-8″; Compact with an abundance of fully double flowers. Orange, Rose, Scarlet, White, Yellow.
- Zowie! Series (F1) – 2 feet; Well branched plants loaded with big 4″ double, bicolor flowers. Yellow Flame (AAS; gold with magenta centers and chocolate cone).
Z. angustifolia (synonym Z. linearis)
- Crystal Series – 10″; Neat mounded habit bearing a plenty of glistening flowers. Orange, White (pure white flowers with yellow centers, AAS), Yellow.
- Star Series – 14″; Single star-shaped flowers up to 2″ across. Heat, humidity & drought tolerant. Gold, Orange, White.
- Profusion series – 10″ compact plants with 2 to 3″, single flowers. Superior heat and humidity tolerance, and disease resistance. Free flowering, self cleaning bloom canopy. Apricot, Cherry (AAS), Coral Pink, Deep Apricot, Fire, Lemon, Orange (AAS), Red (AAS), White (AAS), Yellow.
- Profusion Double Series – same traits as Profusion but with double flowers. Deep Salmon (AAS), Fire, Gold, Hot Cherry (AAS), White, Yellow.
- ‘Zahara’ series – 12″ container, 18″ garden; Larger flowers & brighter colors for this type, with high disease tolerance and low water needs. Starlight Rose may fade in high light. Cherry, Fire, Raspberry, Red, Starlight Rose (AAS), Sunburst (FSM), White, Yellow.
- Zahara Double Series -16-20″; Fully double 2.5″ flowers. Proven leaf-spot & mildew resistance. Bright Orange, Cherry (intense, cherry-pink, AAS), Fire (bright, fiery orange, AAS & FSM Gold), Raspberry Ripple, Salmon, Strawberry, White, Yellow.
- Zahara XL Series – 18″ container, 24″ garden; Robust plant with larger flower size & broad petals. Able to rapidly cover ground or container. Bright eye catching colors. Fire, Pink, White, Yellow
Z. haageana (Mexican zinnia)
- Aztec Burgundy Bicolor – 6″ ; Highly double flowers. Petals burgundy with white tips.
- Aztec Sunset – 6″; FSM. Highly double mix with bi-colors of red, russet, purple, gold, white, cream, orange & maroon. Compact and mildew resistant. Carpeted with 2″ flowers.
- Jazzy Mix – 18″; Special bright double bi-colors with tightly packed two-tone petals, cream thru gold to purple thru mahogany. Long flowering and durable plants.
- ‘Old Mexico’ – 1962 AAS. 18″. bushy, compact, double, 2½-inch-wide blooms of deep, rich mahogany highlighted with yellow-gold.
- Persian Carpet – 1 foot; 1952 AAS winner. Variegated double flowers in shades of red, gold and white. Flowers 2″, broadly pointed petals with contrasting colors at tip.
- Soleado – 18″; bright and cheery single blooms. Petals are light-orange with golden-yellow edges and mahogany ring around center.
Z. pauciflora (synonym Z. peruviana)
- ‘Bonita Red’ –
- ‘Bonita Yellow’ –
Zinnia elegans – Missouri Botanical Garden
Specialty Cut Flowers by Armitage & Laushman
The Easy Cut-Flower Garden by Lisa Mason Ziegler
The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski
Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein
Zinnias – University of Wisconsin-Madison Master Gardener Program
Growing Zinnias in Your Flower Garden – Michigan State University Extension
Zinnias – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Recommended for Wildlife by
Some Favorite Nectar Plants – Washington Area Butterfly Club
Butterfly Gardening in the DC Area – Washington Butterfly Club
For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats – Virginia Extension
HabiChat – Maryland Department of Natural Resources
5 Big Zinnia Flowers for a Busy Butterfly Garden + Growing Tips – Monarch Butterfly Garden
Zinnias—If You Plant Them, Butterflies Will Come – Brooklyn Botanic Garden