Zinnias are one of the most beneficial plants to grow if you want a stunning summer display. These colorful members of the daisy family can be grown by anyone, even inexperienced gardeners. In fact, zinnias have several uses and benefits that go beyond aesthetics. They attract pollinators, can be used as cut flowers, and can even help reduce stress. In this article, we’ll explore 14 amazing uses and benefits of zinnias.
14 Fantastic Uses and Benefits of Zinnias:
1. Zinnias Are Low-Maintenance and Easy to Grow
Zinnias are one of the easiest types of flowers to grow, even for novice gardeners. These wonderful annuals need very little maintenance and thrive in USDA Zones 2 to 11.
Zinnias thrive in full sun daily and grow best in nutritious, well-draining soils. Water zinnia plants once a week or whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. During the flowering season, fertilize zinnias once every month or so and deadhead any wilting blooms.
2. Zinnias Make Excellent Cut Flowers
One of the main reasons why zinnias are popular is because they yield excellent cut flowers. They can produce large crops of cut flowers that can last approximately 7 to 12 days in a vase (or much longer if you’re interested in drying and preserving zinnias). You can harvest them from early summer until the start of fall using a cut-and-come-again approach.
To get a bumper crop of flowers, ensure your plants get plenty of sun, water, and nutrients. You can maximize your crop by strategically pruning or “pinching” young zinnia plants. This encourages them to produce more flower stems.
3. Zinnias Attract Beneficial Pollinators
Zinnias aren’t just good for gardeners, but they’re also fantastic for pollinators. They help attract bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. These beneficial creatures can then help pollinate your other flowers and crops.
Keep in mind that double and semi-double zinnias don’t give pollinators easy access to the valuable nectar within. If you want to provide a banquet for bees and other insects, choose varieties with open single flowers. Avoid using chemicals or synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in your garden, as these can harm pollinators.
4. Zinnia Flowers Are Edible
Zinnias look so good that you can actually eat them. These flowers are edible, but they do have a slightly bitter flavor. While they’re not palatable as the main ingredient, they make fantastic cake decorations or salad garnishes. Zinnias are also non-toxic for humans and pets, so you can safely grow them if you have cats or dogs.
5. Zinnias Are Annuals
Zinnias are flowering annuals, which means that each plant only lasts for a year. Because of their short life cycle, annuals grow very quickly. After you’ve sown some seeds, you should get seedlings within 7 to 10 days. Most varieties can flower within 6 to 8 weeks of sowing.
Although you’ll have to resow zinnias each year, you can move them around your garden easily. They are an excellent way to fill gaps around perennial shrubs and other long-lasting plants.
6. Zinnias Have a Long Flowering Season
Once zinnias start flowering, you can enjoy them for several months. Most cultivars flower from early summer until the first fall frosts. Each plant can produce several flowers during that time, mainly if you continually harvest or deadhead them.
Zinnias are excellent in summer flower beds, creating a vibrant, colorful display of pastel shades. You can also stagger your sowings of seeds so that you have a continuous display.
7. Zinnias Are Beautiful Ornamental Plants
Most zinnia plants grow in clumps that can grow between 1 and 4 feet tall. They usually spread approximately 1 to 2 feet wide. These bushy annuals produce plenty of flowers, giving you a long-lasting display of beautiful colors.
You can also get dwarf varieties. These cultivars grow between 6 and 12 inches high and wide, making them ideal for containers. Combine low-growing dwarf cultivars with taller varieties for a layered display.
8. Zinnias May Help Reduce Stress
Caring for plants like zinnias is a great way to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Studies have shown that gardening can have a therapeutic effect, helping to combat mental health issues. Gardening is also a physical activity and counts as low to medium-intensity exercise.
Even gardening two or three times a week can yield benefits for our mental and physical health. Zinnias are ideal for this because they need watering once a week and deadheading regularly during the flowering season.
9. Zinnias Make Wonderfully Symbolic Gifts
Whether used as cut flowers in bouquets or given as plants, they make great gifts for several occasions. Zinnias flowers symbolize both romantic and platonic love. This means that zinnias make excellent gifts for your spouse or close friends.
The Victorians believed that red or magenta flowers were potent symbols of affection or desire. With this in mind, they could be a wonderful anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift for your spouse or partner. Orange zinnias were thought to celebrate reunions with friends.
10. Zinnia Flowers Can Be Dried
Not content with being excellent cut flowers, they can also be used as lovely dried flowers. These flowers can be dried in approximately two weeks using a cardboard box and some silica gel. Alternatively, you can hang them in a cool, dark place for about three weeks.
Dried flowers work great in bouquets or vases and can also be given as gifts. Use dried zinnias to create charming displays indoors when fresh flowers aren’t in season.
11. Zinnias Can Be Grown in Pots
Although zinnias grow best in the ground, they will also grow happily in containers and pots. This allows you to use them in courtyard gardens or patios and balconies. They don’t have particularly long roots, so even taller varieties work well in containers.
If you’re growing in containers, make sure to water and feed them regularly. Make sure that the soil is well-draining and has plenty of nutrients by mixing in some organic matter. Use loam or clay soils if possible.
12. Zinnias Work Well As Companion Plants
Even if you primarily grow vegetables and other crops, these flowers are still beneficial plants to add to your plot. They work well as companion plants, which means that they can lure pests away from your vulnerable crops. Zinnias are especially good at protecting crops like beans or salad leaves from aphids, beetles, and whiteflies.
What’s more, they can also attract vital pollinators like bees and butterflies to your crops. This is vital when your crops are in flower and helps make them more productive. As an added bonus, these flowers make a fantastic edible garnish for your home-grown salads.
13. Zinnias Are Drought-Tolerant
Zinnias will still hold up very well if you live in a hot, dry climate. These flowers are drought-tolerant annuals that love full sun, warm temperatures, and well-draining soil. Plus, they can survive hot temperatures if you water them at least once a week.
Zinnias originally came from Mexico and can now be found across the Southwestern United States. They have adapted to survive in arid habitats such as prairies or scrublands, so they can easily handle most garden conditions.
14. Zinnias Don’t Suffer From Many Pests and Diseases
Despite their beautiful petals, they are fairly robust plants that don’t suffer from many diseases or pests. Although diseases like Alternaria blight, powdery mildew, and pests like aphids can affect zinnias, they’re easily dealt with. Horticultural oils like neem oil and insecticidal soaps can take care of most problems.
If your plants do have pests or diseases, try not to use chemical pesticides. These products may kill the pests, but they can also kill beneficial pollinators like bees and hoverflies. Some chemical pesticides can also cause soil quality to deteriorate, potentially damaging your zinnias.
Although the elegant beauty of zinnias is reason enough to grow them, these brilliant annuals also have several other uses and benefits. They produce amazing crops of cut flowers and can also be dried. Plus, they are a great companion plants for food crops and attract important pollinators. Zinnias can even help reduce stress and anxiety by getting you out into the garden.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.