Like all Zinnias, Crouching Tiger is a magnet for pollinators. Grow it among your tomatoes and cabbages to bring in insect-gobbling ladybugs and hummingbirds, too!
Bright beautiful blooms, easy to grow from seed, repeating all summer long — gardeners are full of praise for Zinnia, and no wonder! It really is one of the simplest seeds to grow, springing right up whether you start the seeds indoors in late winter or scatter them directly into the warm spring soil. Many children grow Zinnia as their very first flower seed; who knows how many lifelong gardeners have been inspired by the sight of those bold, colorful daisies opening up all over the plant? They love to be cut for the vase or buttonhole, and will grow new buds as soon as the old flowers are cut or deadheaded.
So if you are a new gardener, or simply new to growing from seed, you definitely want to make Zinnia part of your very first garden. It’s a surefire success, and new gardeners need these. If you want to grow a vegetable garden, Zinnia needs to be one of the flowering companions to your edibles. It attracts ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, all of which gobble up destructive insects that can nibble on your veggie plants.
How do you choose among the dozens of beautiful Zinnia varieties available today? Well, one quick method is by size:
The Zaharas are as ornamental as they are useful! Cut all you like, or grow them just for the masses of blooms they will bring your sunny garden!
Bedding or Landscaping Zinnias
These are the most compact Zinnias, with good branching and lots of 2- to 3-inch flowers to show off. They are ideal for small spaces and containers, but also preferred for large sunny areas where a lot of coverage is needed. And just because their flowers are smaller than those of tall Zinnias, they are no less brilliant, long-lasting, and profuse.
Without a doubt, the best bedding Zinnia is Profusion. Winner of multiple awards in the US and Europe, this series is renowned for its ability to resist mildew while continuing to set single or double 2-inch flowers for months and months! Particularly good for cooler and northern climates, it reaches 12 to 15 inches high and wide.
While Profusion keeps short-summer climates rich in color, the Zahara series dominates the more challenging humid and rainy areas of the country. Its mildew and leafspot resistance are simply unmatched, and its blooms aren’t too shabby, either — fully 2 1/2 inches across and fully double, in gorgeous colors such as Starlight Rose and Double Fire.
Zinnia Hidden Dragon begins its bloom as a white-tipped carmine daisy, then adds layers of petals that cover the carmine and even eventually hide the yellow eye!
Not much taller than bedding Zinnias but bearing bigger, showier flowers for cutting, these Zinnias can do double duty in the garden or vase. Use them to blanket the bed, edge the driveway, or stand sentry around the vegetable patch, all the while cutting their blooms for the vase, too!
A pair of exceptional double-flowered, bicolored Zinnias are perfect for landscaping and cutting: Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon. Both of these 2-foot-high, 1-foot-wide plants cover themselves with big 3-inch pompons less than 3 months after sowing. And the flowers are especially fun to watch, because they undergo color changes — as well as increase in layers of petals! — as they mature.
Tall or Cutting Zinnias
These are the glories of the garden, with giant blooms bobbing atop long, sturdy stems, ready to show off for a week or more in your best vases! The flowers can reach 5 inches wide, and are available in every form from spiky “cactus” to multicolored daisies to full, rounded pompons. Here are our all-time favorites:
Park’s Picks Mix is a showstopper with 4-5″ double blooms in the richest of colors!
Park’s Picks is the standard series for the biggest blooms with the most layers of petals in the brightest colors! Known as “Dahlia-flowered,” they are visible from way down the street, and a big stand of blooming Park’s Picks is an unforgettable sight. The plants reach up to 4 feet high, bloom like crazy, and bring bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and even hummingbirds into the garden by the dozen.
We used to say that Park’s Picks Zinnias were our all-time favorite, but our customers have given another tall variety their absolute highest rating, both for beauty and performance: Zowie! Yellow Flame. Just last May, Marge of NY reported, “I won first place with it over all the other zinnias in the county fair,” and Bethany from Maryland, who tries a few new Zinnias from seed every
Zowie! Yellow Flame is our customers’ favorite! This pic shows the bloom about halfway formed, with the big central cone still visible and traces of the original pink turning to red on every petal.
year, raved about Zowie: “The flower heads are lush and sturdy, providing a beautiful pop of color that seems to last longer than some other varieties.” Mike in North Carolina exclaimed, “Everyone who has seen this flower raves over its stunning beauty!!!”
Several gardeners let us know that our photo does not do Zowie! justice, because as it grows it passes through several color and form changes. Most surprisingly, we also heard from more than one gardener that Zowie! was willing to bloom heavily even in just half a day of sun. We have never heard this about a Zinnia before, and the thought of being able to grow Zinnia in less than full sun is pretty exciting!
Not all Zinnias are big plants with double blooms. Red Spider, for instance, is a less common species with a petite habit and masses of bright daisies!
Whichever Zinnia you decide to grow this season, have fun watching its super-fast progress from a tiny green shoot to a branching plant and finally into a blooming beauty! If you start the seeds indoors, transplant the seedlings as young as you can, so they can get established quickly and begin their long season. And get your camera ready for the colorful winged visitors who will arrives to sip the nectar from these gorgeous flowers all summer long!