Zinnias in Pots: Your Complete Guide to Container Growing

If you don’t have access to a garden, you may wonder if you can grow zinnias in pots and containers. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about planting and caring for potted zinnias. 

How to Grow Zinnias in Pots and Containers

Can Zinnias Grow in Pots?

Yes, you can grow zinnias in pots! Choose a large container, use a well-draining mix, and provide your potted zinnias with lots of light.

Most Suitable Zinnia Varieties for Pots

Bright red and orange zinnia flowers bloom in a potting container

While you can grow any type of zinnias in pots, some varieties work better than others. If you don’t want to deal with towering plants that overwhelm smaller containers, look for dwarf varieties.

Some popular dwarf zinnias include:

  • Zinnia haageana ‘Chippendale,’ or Zinnia haageana ‘Persian Carpet’: also known as Mexican zinnia, is a heat and drought-tolerant flowering plant native to Mexico, known for its bright, daisy-like flowers and compact growth habit.
  • Zinnia ‘Thumbelina Mix’: Thumbelina mix Zinnias produce colorful, pompom-like blooms that grow to be 1-2 inches in diameter atop compact, 6-8 inches tall plants. They have a mix of different flower colors, including pink, red, yellow, orange, and white.
  • Zinnia ‘Lilliput Mix’: As the name suggests, this mix features small, tightly packed round blooms that look similar to dahlias. They grow up to 1 foot tall and come in a variety of vibrant colors.
  • Zinnia ‘Profusion’ Series: This series has gained popularity for its disease resistance and continuous blooming throughout the summer. The plant height is about 12-18 inches. There are several colors in the series, including orange, cherry, and white.
  • Zinnia ‘Magellan’ Series: These have larger flowers on compact plants that grow up to 1 foot tall. The series has various color options such as ivory, pink, coral, yellow, and scarlet.
  • Zinnia ‘Small World’ Series: This series has the typical bright, vibrant zinnia colors on plants that stay around 10-12 inches tall.
  • Zinnia ‘Zahara’ Series: The Zahara series is known for its outstanding disease resistance and heat and drought tolerance. These plants typically grow to about 12-18 inches tall with a variety of colors available, including starlight rose, yellow, fire, coral rose, and white.
  • Zinnia ‘Zany Rose Picotee’: This variety features charming, rose-colored flowers with a white edge. The plants stay compact, around 10-12 inches tall.

The Best Types of Pots for Zinnias

Even if you plant dwarf zinnias, you’ll want to choose a pot at least ten inches in diameter. Choose a larger pot if you’re planting more than one zinnia in the same container.

The container material isn’t too important; terra cotta, plastic, and ceramic are all appropriate. Just make sure the pot has drainage holes to allow excess water out.

Suitable Growing Zones for Potted Zinnias Outdoors

Zinnias grown in pots have similar environmental needs to those grown in the ground. Most species cannot tolerate frosts and are grown as annuals, but a few species are more cold-hardy perennials.

All types of zinnias can be grown in zones 3-11 as long as you wait until the danger of frost has passed before you plant them outdoors. These plants will die with fall frosts, but you can replant them the following spring.

Can Potted Zinnias Be Grown Indoors?

While growing potted zinnias is the obvious choice, you can also grow these plants indoors.

If you grow zinnias indoors, give the plants at least six hours of bright light. Direct light is ideal, but bright, indirect light works well.

You can also start zinnia seeds indoors in the spring and then move them outside after the last frost. I like to put indoor seedlings under grow lights to ensure they have enough light, but you can also place them near a bright window.

Tips on Preparing and Filling Pots for Zinnias

A cluster of white and pink potted zinnias in bloom

Choosing a proper soil mix is one of the most critical aspects of successfully growing zinnias in pots. While in-ground zinnias can handle various soil types, potted zinnias need a well-draining soil mix.

A soilless mix made from coco coir or peat moss and drainage materials like perlite and pine bark can work well. You can also mix in a bit of aged compost if you want to give your potted plants an extra boost.

When you fill the pot, avoid compacting the soil since this can lead to problems with drainage and aeration.

How to Plant Zinnias in a Pot

After you’ve obtained a suitable container and filled it with soil mix, it’s time to add your zinnias!

If you’re starting with seedlings, dig a hole that is a bit larger than the plant’s root ball. Place the seedling in the hole so the top lines up with the soil surface.

Fill any empty space with more potting soil and water well.

Starting with zinnia seeds is another option. Dig a hole that is half an inch deep, place two seeds, cover, and water well.

Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in about 4–7 days. Once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, thin them so only one plant remains.

Where to Position Potted Zinnias

If you want healthy plants and lots of flowers, place your potted zinnias in a location that receives full sun. At least six hours of sun is crucial, but more is better.

Indoor zinnias should be situated next to a south-facing window, in a sunroom, or in another bright location.

How to Care for Potted Zinnias

Potted zinnia flowers sit in rows on a shelfing unit

Caring for potted zinnias is much like caring for in-ground zinnias, with a few differences.


You’ll typically need to water potted zinnias more often than you need to water plants growing in the ground. That’s because water evaporates more quickly from pots than it does from the ground.

Start by checking the soil every other day. If the top inch of soil is dry, you can water your plant. And if the top is still moist, you should wait to water.

When you water your potted zinnia, thoroughly saturate the soil so the roots at the bottom of the pot get a drink.


Since many potting mixes lack nutrients, fertilizing your potted zinnias helps provide them with the nutrients they need to grow and flower.

Choose a fertilizer designed for flowering plants, such as Dr. Earth Flower Girl or Fox Farm Big Bloom. Fertilize once a month, and follow the product label when determining how much fertilizer to apply.


Removing the first top flower bud, a practice known as pinching, can help encourage the plant to develop long side stems. While this isn’t necessary, it can be useful if you want long stems for bouquets.

Another optional care practice is deadheading zinnias, aka removing dead flowers. This can help encourage plants to put their energy into producing new flowers.

Overwintered Potted Zinnia Care

Since most zinnias are annuals, you don’t need to worry about bringing them indoors during the winter. A better practice is to let the plants die in the fall and then replant them the following spring.

However, you can attempt to overwinter perennial zinnias. Start by cutting back the stems so they are only about six inches tall. 

When the danger of frost arrives, move your potted zinnias indoors. Place them in a cool space with dim light—a garage, basement, or sheltered porch often works well.

Keep the soil mostly dry and then begin to water once spring arrives. If the plants survive the winter, you can move them outdoors after the last frost.

Transplanting and Propating Potted Zinnias

If you start zinnia seeds in small pots, you can plant them into larger pots or directly into your garden. The best time to transplant zinnia seedlings is when they are about four to eight inches tall.

Dig a hole that is just a bit larger than the plant’s root ball, and then place the transplant in the hole. Cover with soil and water well.

The easiest way to propagate zinnia is by saving mature seeds and then planting them. Wait until zinnia flowers have dried out, and then separate the seeds from the rest of the flower.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How Long Do Potted Zinnias Last?

Since most zinnias are annuals, they will grow for one year. They will continue to produce flowers until the first frost arrives as long as you provide them with the proper care and environment.

Do Zinnias Grow Better in Pots or the Ground?

Zinnias can grow well in pots and on the ground. The key is to provide the plants with lots of sun and good drainage.

How Often Should I Water Potted Zinnias?

You can expect to water your potted zinnia every two to five days. The temperature, sunlight, and soil mix can affect how often you should water.

Wrapping Up

Growing zinnias in pots allows you to brighten porches and decks with these cheerful flowers. Remember to provide the plants with lots of sun and keep the soil moist.

For more, see our in-depth guide on how to save zinnia seeds, and the 10 best companion plants for zinnias.

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