Zinnias As Cut Flowers: The Best For Bouquets

close up of zinnia bouquet

If you’re looking for a reliable, low-maintenance flower to grow for fresh bouquets, zinnias are a perfect choice. They come in just about every color, and they don’t require any special attention or conditions. Just give them full sun and good soil, and you’ll be harvesting cut flowers all summer.

Zinnias make excellent cut flowers that last an average of 7-10 days in the vase. The most popular cutting varieties grown by flower farmers are Benary’s Giant and the Queen Series. These low-maintenance flowers thrive in full sun and well-draining soil.

While zinnias may not be as flashy as some other popular cut flowers like sunflowers and dahlias, they make up for it with their production of long-lasting blooms, and they earn a spot in any flower garden.

Do zinnias make good cut flowers?

Zinnias are one of the best flowers for cutting and bringing indoors. They have a long vase life, lasting a week or more in most cases, and they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Most zinnia varieties produce long stems that are ideal for cutting and arranging in vases, with the exception of dwarf varieties. 

One of the great things about zinnias is that they are a cut and come again flower. This means that you can cut the flowers, and they will continue to produce more blooms throughout the season, making them an excellent choice for fresh bouquets all summer long.

So, if you’re feeling hesitant to cut your beautiful blooms, don’t be! The plants will continue to produce new stems and flowers after each harvest, making them productive for much longer than if you were to leave all the flowers on the plant.

Grow your zinnias in full sun to promote vigorous plants with strong stems. If your garden beds are in partial shade, you can still grow zinnia plants, but they might be smaller than those grown in full sun.

You can also try growing your zinnias in pots if that helps you take advantage of a sunny patch where you don’t have any garden beds.

When are zinnias ready to cut?

Before cutting, zinnias should be fully open since the flowers won’t open any further in the vase. The flower should also have a strong stem, which you can check using the wiggle test, which helps weed out immature blooms.

mixed bouquet of zinnia, cosmos, yarrow, scabiosa, statice
Open blooms are the best for cutting; just catch them when they’re young for the longest vase life.

Here’s more on the wiggle test:

  • Hold the stem 6-8 inches below the flower head and wiggle it back and forth.
  • If it stays straight when you wiggle it, the flower is ready to cut.
  • If the flower sways heavily on the stem, leave it for another day or two.

How to cut zinnias

It’s best to cut zinnias in the morning once the dew has evaporated. Flowers are their freshest in the morning, having spent the night rehydrating. You can also cut in the early evening; just avoid harvesting flowers in the heat of the day.

Here are the steps to harvest your own zinnia bouquet:

  • Choose open and mature blooms. The petals should be fully expanded and the center showing.
  • Cut a long stem with sharp pruners or scissors. Cut a leaf axle, where two leaves come out of the stem.
  • Strip the leaves off the cut stem. Leaves will rot in the vase water and shorten the life of your zinnias.
  • Immediately place the flowers in water. This will help them stay fresh and prevent wilting.

Here are two pairs of clippers I use for just about ever garden job, including harvesting zinnias:

My favorite garden shears

These two clippers can handle all the tasks (and the red handles help me keep track of them). Corona Leaf & Stem Micro Snips: Perfect for cutting small stems, deadheading spent blooms, or keeping the mint plant from taking over my garden. FELCO Classic Manual Hand Pruners are better for heavier-duty pruning, such as dead sunflower stalks, tomato vines, and cutting old zip-ties off the trellises. 

How long do zinnias last in a vase?

Properly cared for, zinnias will last 1-2 weeks in a vase. To extend the life of your flowers, keep them out of direct sunlight and change the water every couple of days. Adding a flower food packet to the vase water will also help prolong their lifespan. 

Changing the water is an essential but often overlooked step in helping your zinnias (and all cut flowers!) last their longest. Clean water will help prevent bacteria growth which can shorten the life of your flowers.

Zinnias are known as dirty flowers, meaning they turn their vase water murky faster than other flowers, making fresh water essential for extended vase life. Floret Flower Farm recommends using flower food that discourages bacterial growth. I haven’t tried it myself, but I bet it will help get the longest vase life out of your zinnia blooms if the pros recommend it!

zinnias in red pitcher on a rock
Don’t let an opaque vase or bucket let you forget to change the water!

To change the water, simply empty the vase and refill it with fresh, clean water. Be sure to also trim off any leaves that have fallen into the vase, as these will also promote bacteria growth.

Trimming the flower stems is another way to freshen your flowers. Cut the bottom inch off the stems before replacing them in the water, and they’ll have a clean surface area to help with water uptake. 

For even more tips on getting the longest vase life from your flowers, check out this article next: How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh: 7 Tips From The Pros.

Which zinnias are best for cut flowers?

Even though just about any zinnia can be an excellent and gorgeous cut flower, some varieties outperform others. The ones listed here are the go-to for flower farmers who pick bouquets weekly to sell at farmer’s markets, for bouquet subscriptions, and to local florists.

You can buy these varieties as mixes or individual colors, which is handy if you want to stick to a particular color palette. 

Benary’s Giant: Benary’s Giant is one of the favorite zinnia varieties for flower growers. It has large, double blooms that can reach four inches in diameter. The bright red, yellow, orange, white, pink, and even purple bloom colors make this a beautiful cut flower that pops in the garden and vase.

Queen series: The Queen series is top-rated among flower growers and house gardeners. The flowers are about three inches wide with long stems. The collection consists of five hues, including shades of rose, rust, orange, lime, and blush.

What’s not to love about Queen zinnias?

Oklahoma series: The Oklahoma series produces medium-sized blooms on sturdy stems that are perfect for complimenting larger flowers in the vase. They are available in a wide range of colors from orange, white, pink, and more. This year, I’m growing the salmon color in my garden, which blends beautifully with flowers from the Queen series.

State Fair Mix: This long-standing variety will shower you with large, open double and semi-double blooms all summer. The flowers reach 3-5 inches wide in pink, red, orange, and more shades. This classic cutting variety should be in every garden for its blooms and because it’s more resistant to fungal diseases like powdery mildew, the bane of any zinnia grower. 

Zinderella series: These zinnias have a cupcake-shaped bloom, with a rounded top and a fringe of petals around the edge. Not all gardeners and flower growers have success with this variety. Some report that the flowers don’t reliably produce their special bloom shape during cool summers, instead reverting to single and semi-double blooms.

You can still enjoy the vibrant colors and occasional cupcake-shaped bloom if that happens to you. It’s still worth giving this variety a shot!

Learn more about growing zinnias as cut flowers

If you’ve decided that this is the year you’ll grow zinnias in your garden, you’re info a summer of beautiful blooms and bouquets.

Here are a few other articles that can help you nail the process of growing zinnias with a focus on cut flower production:

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