Growing A Zinnia From Seeds
Zinnia seeds are widely used for propagating this beautiful flowering plant that is mostly native to Mexico. Zinnias are preferred by many gardeners because of their brightly colored blooms, and also because they are huge attractions to butterflies. In colder climates, zinnias are annuals that must be replanted every year, unless you transplant in cool weather. In warmer places, this plant is a perennial.
Step 1 – Choose a Planting Spot
You can purchase good quality zinnia seeds from most local gardening centers. Once you have the seeds, you can decide whether to sow them indoors in a pot, or outdoors in the backyard. If you live in a colder climate, you can sow the seeds indoors a few weeks before spring, and then transplant the seedlings when the weather is warm. You could also directly sow the seeds in your backyard. Zinnias must have a sunny spot to grow, with some optional shade during the hottest part of the day. The soil must be rich in nutrients, so it is a good idea to amend the planting spot with mature compost a few weeks before sowing the seeds. The soil must also be moist, without getting waterlogged, so you must ensure that it has good drainage.
Step 2 – Sow the Seeds
If you are sowing the seeds indoors, fill a pot or container with a potting mix or nutrient-rich soil. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water till the soil is moist, but not soggy. The seeds will soon germinate, and you can transplant the seedlings when the weather is warmer. If you are directly sowing the seeds in the ground, ensure that the temperatures are warm enough (over 18ºC) and that there is no danger of frost. Depending on the variety and size of your zinnia plant, the distance between the seeds will vary. Larger varieties must be spaced a couple of feet apart, while the miniature zinnias will do fine about 6 or 8 inches apart. Refer to the tag or label that comes with the seeds, and follow instructions on spacing. Put the seeds on the ground at the appropriate spots, and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water well, and keep soil moist. Add a layer of organic mulch around the plant to minimize weeds and improve moisture retention in the soil.
Step 3 – Care and Maintenance
Zinnias need regular watering, at least twice a week once they are established. Younger plants may need more water. A sunny spot is essential to the growth of plentiful flowers. You can fertilize the zinnias with a regular flower fertilizer once a month. Regular deadheading will ensure a better growth of new flowers. Never water the foliage when you are watering the plants, because this may trigger fungal infections. Remove dead growth and stems promptly, to avoid disease and infection. Make sure the plants have enough air circulation and sunlight.