Grow Zinnias In Pots For Container Cut Flowers

small pot planted with yellow zinnia flowers

Zinnias are great flowers to grow in pots, and they’re an excellent option for gardeners who want vibrant color in their yard even when they don’t have garden space.

Plus, zinnias make excellent cut flowers, so a container full of zinnias means beauty and bouquets all summer.

Zinnias can be grown in pots of many different sizes. Ensure the pot has good drainage so the soil doesn’t stay wet. You will also need to fertilize and water the plants regularly, especially during hot weather. Place the pot in a sunny spot for optimal growth and flower production.

With just a few tips, you can be on your way to a patio full of potted plants brimming with beautiful zinnias.

Can you grow zinnias in pots?

Dozens of zinnia varieties grow well in pots and make beautiful cut flowers. The same rules of growing any flower in containers apply to zinnias in pots: well-draining soil, full sun, and regular water and fertilizer to keep the plants healthy.

Just like growing zinnias in a regular garden bed, wait until the weather has warmed and any risk of frost has passed. If zinnias are planted too early and a spring frost hits overnight, it will kill your young plants because they aren’t at all cold tolerant.

Why grow potted zinnias?

There are several reasons to grow zinnias in pots:

  • Zinnias are great for small spaces. If you don’t have room in your garden for a row of zinnias, grow them in a pot on your patio or porch.
  • Zinnias are great for beginning gardeners. They’re easy to grow, don’t require much care, and come in a wide variety of colors. Starting small with a few pots can prevent overwhelm.
  • You can move potted zinnias around to get the best sunlight. If one spot in your garden is getting too much shade, move your potted zinnias to a sunnier place.

Starting zinnias in containers

You have a couple of options for planting zinnias in pots. You can transplant seedlings or sow seeds directly in the container.

With transplants, you have the advantage of an “instant garden” because the flowers will bloom much sooner.

But, the variety of zinnia seeds you can find at the garden center or nursery is much more limited than the number of zinnia varieties you can buy as seeds, so direct sowing has an advantage, as well. 

To expand your options for zinnia varieties, try growing them from seed right in the pot. Plant the seeds about a quarter-inch deep in the pot, cover them lightly with soil, and keep them moist until they germinate in about a week.

For a more in-depth look at starting seeds, check out this article, Step-By-Step Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors (Plus a sample setup).

Best varieties to grow in pots

Dwarf and compact varieties will be your best bet for growing in pots. These shorter varieties grow anywhere from 6-18 inches tall. If you’re growing zinnias for cut flowers you should choose a variety on the taller end of that range so you get a useable stem. 

Some of the most popular varieties for cutting will grow 2-3 feet tall, which is at the higher range for growing in a pot. It can be done, you just need to choose a large enough pot.

A 7-gallon pot or grow bag will provide enough soil and resources for 2-3 zinnia plants. Because you’ll be harvesting stems frequently, the plant will be pruned regularly so multiple plants can fit in one pot.

If you decide not to use the zinnias as cutting flowers, then stick to just one plant per pot. 

Here are some of those popular varieties. I love to browse Swallowtail Garden Seeds’ website for pictures and more information about each series and variety. 

  • Queen series: A beautiful collection of large, round zinnias in antique shades of rust, orange, lime, and blush. 
  • Oklahoma series: Smaller double and semi-double blooms produce a range of color in red, pink, white, and salmon. 
  • Zinderella series: Also known as a scabiosa-type zinnia, this series has a puffy flower with a single petal fringe around the bottom.

How to choose and fill a pot for zinnias

Get your zinnias off to the right start by choosing the best pot and growing medium for them. Here are a few things to consider:

Pot size

Generally, the larger the pot, the better. There’s more room for the plant to develop roots and take up resources like water and fertilizer with a larger pot. You can also grow together more plants in a larger pot, making more of a visual statement on your patio or porch.

As long as the pot is at least six inches deep, you can grow zinnias. Dwarf zinnia varieties will do best in smaller pots, while larger pots can accommodate standard types such as the Oklahoma or Queen series.

If you need more ideas for containers to use, I have a list of ideas in this post, 12 Cut Flowers To Grow In Containers (Plus tips for success).

Drainage

The pot must have good drainage to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged and the roots of the plants from rotting. If the pot has a hole in the bottom, that’s perfect.

If it doesn’t, you can create some drainage by drilling holes in the bottom of the container. This is an essential step if you’re upcycling a container, such as an old bucket or wheelbarrow belly.

Placing small stones or pieces of broken pottery at the bottom of the pot before adding soil is a great way to avoid the soil clogging the drainage hole.

Soil

Zinnias do best in soil that is light and well-drained. A standard potting mix or a DIY mix of two parts peat moss to one part perlite or vermiculite will work well. If you can, use both perlite and vermiculite for the best results.

I also like to add compost or worm castings to any potting mix to increase the organic matter and nutrients of the potting mix.

How to keep your zinnias blooming all season

Once you have your zinnias planted in their pots, there are only a few maintenance chores to keep in mind. The following five tips will help keep your zinnias blooming all season long while you enjoy your flowers and fresh-cut bouquets.

Watering

Zinnias like soil that is moist but not constantly saturated, which is what makes drainage holes so important. Water them when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, usually once or twice a week.

Be sure to water thoroughly so that the entire potting mix gets wet, and allow the pot to drain before re-watering.

Zinnias can be susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that can cause a white or gray film on the leaves. Excess water can contribute to this problem, so be sure to water only when needed and avoid over-watering or getting the leaves wet.

For more tips on watering potted flowers, including zinnias, jump over to this article: 9 Tips for Watering Potted Flowers in the Summer.

Sunlight

Zinnias need at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day to bloom their best. If you find that flower production isn’t picking up as the season goes on, try moving the pot to a spot where it will get more light, preferably the afternoon sun, since it’s warmer than morning light.

If you can’t provide that much sun, try growing other flowers that will perform better in only part sun. Get some ideas in this article: Can Cut Flowers Grow In Part Shade? (Yes! Try These 9 Types).

Fertilizer

Zinnias need regular fertilization to maintain their color and blooming habits. A balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-5 applied every two weeks should do the trick.

The numbers listed refer to the main components of fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. For blooming plants such as zinnias, higher phosphorus levels will promote bloom development instead of just promoting leaf growth.

Support

Some zinnias will need staking, especially if you grow taller varieties. If the plant is located in a windy spot, that might be a reason to stake the flowers, as well.

Once the plants get going and have several blooms, the weight of the flowers can cause them to topple over in inclement weather. Using a stake or other support will help keep the plant upright and looking its best.

Deadhead

Regular deadheading of zinnias will keep them looking tidy and encourage more blooms. Deadheading is the process of removing faded flowers from the plant. Deadheading not only looks better, but it also helps the plant’s energy go into producing more flowers rather than seeds.

The process is simple; cut the stem of the fading bloom at a leaf junction. The plant will respond by growing a new stem and flower bud, keeping flower production high.

To learn more about deadheading flowers, check out this article, Should You Deadhead Cut Flowers, Too?

Now get your pots ready!

If you’re looking for a beautiful flower to grow in your flower garden, consider planting zinnias. These plants are easy to care for and can be grown in pots, making them the perfect choice for small spaces. Zinnias come in various colors, so you’re sure to find one that suits your taste. Try growing zinnias in pots this year – you won’t regret it!

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