Mid-summer isn’t the time that most gardeners are thinking about fall flowers. But it’s the ideal time to plant a new round of seeds that will bloom after the summer bounty winds down. Zinnias are a perfect option for fall-blooming annuals, especially when you choose colors to reflect the season.
Zinnias planted in June, July, and August will have time to bloom during the end of summer. Choose varieties that have autumnal colors such as gold, red, or yellow to complement the season. Zowie! Yellow Flame and Jazzy Mix are two examples of easy-to-grow, fall-colored zinnias.
Start a round of these zinnias to follow your spring and early summer planting with just a couple of steps.
Fall-blooming zinnias are an easy fix for the flower garden
Zinnias are easy-to-grow flowers, and planting them in the warm summer weather only makes it simpler. They’ll germinate in just a handful of days and grow quickly for almost instant gratification.
Zinnias are categorized as tender annuals, meaning that they can only grow during the warm seasons of the year, and any frost or freezing temperatures will kill them. To get the plants producing blooms before fall, you’ll need to plant them out at least a couple of months before your average first frost of the year.
Your average first frost is the first time temperatures will drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a frost blanket over your garden plants. Some plants will survive this frost, but zinnias aren’t one of them. If you don’t know the date for your first frost, you can look it up at the Farmer’s Almanac using your zip code.
Here’s an example of how to get the timing right for planting zinnias for fall color.
Jazzy Mix zinnias take 75-85 days to reach maturity. That’s about 12 weeks from planting to bloom. By knowing your first fall frost, you can then count back 12 weeks, plus a few extra weeks to provide a window of flowering time.
To avoid having your plants bloom right as the frost strikes, count back at least 15 weeks to have three or more weeks of blooms.
|Days to maturity||Zone & First frost||Planting date||Bloom window|
|75-85||Zone 4, Sept 26||June 13||3+ weeks, Sept 5-26|
|Zone 8, Oct 29||July 16||4+ weeks, Oct 1-29|
You can see how just a little planning will go a long way to finding the right date to plant to get those fall blooms. If you’re not sure if you’re too late for summer plantings, I put together another post addressing that very concern right here: Too Late To Plant Flowers? A Guide To Summer Planting
Once you know when to plant, it’s just a matter of getting those seeds in the ground. Zinnias are easy to plant directly in the garden, so direct sowing is preferred. If you don’t have an empty spot in the garden bed, then a large pot or grow bag will work just as well.
Since these flowers are for cutting, you can space them tightly with just 9 inches between seeds. Once in the soil, cover the seeds lightly with about 1/4 inch of soil, and water them well. Since the summer sun will dry the soil out faster than in spring, make sure to check your seedbed frequently to avoid the seeds drying out.
Your zinnia seeds will sprout in about five days, and after that, it’s just a matter of keeping them well-watered. The plants will grow quickly in the summer heat, and in just a few short months, golden and burgundy bouquets will fill your vases and decorate your home.
Choose zinnia varieties with fall-inspired colors
Your spring-planted zinnias should be all about those summer colors. Fuchsia, pink, and coral are great flower colors for the heat of summer. But for fall blooms, why not pick varieties with more autumnal vibes? Ruby red, orange, and golden yellow reflect the changing tree leaves, a sure sign of impending fall.
Follow nature’s trend by trying a few varieties that transition your garden and fresh-cut bouquets to fall. All links and photos are courtesy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, one of the best companies for cut flower seeds.
Jazzy Mix: This is my favorite mix for fall, and I’ve got a packet of seeds waiting for planting time. Blooms range from a single color or two-toned with shades of orange, yellow, and ruby red. Smaller flowers are easy to arrange with other fall bloomers.
Zowie! Yellow Flame: Another option for two-toned petals, Zowie! is actually a new-to-me zinnia variety that I’m excited to try. Orange and gold petals look perfect for the vase.
Oklahoma Golden Yellow: Shaggy yellow puffs will blend well with other colors of zinnias. The Oklahoma series is a great cutting flower.
Benary’s Giant Orange: Benary’s Giants are the go-to zinnia variety for cutting. With tall, straight stems and prolific blooms, they are champions in the cutting garden. Orange is a pretty nod to fall.
Benary’s Giant Yellow: Add a yellow Giant to your flower garden for those fall blooms.
Benary’s Giant Deep Red: Bold red blooms round out the Benary’s Giant selections for fall color.
For even more of a seasonal impact, plant a few sunflowers along with your zinnias. Just like with zinnias, there are sunflowers with more seasonal-inspired colors like chocolate or mahogany petals. To read more about which sunflower varieties to grow, head over to this post, What Sunflower Varieties Are Best For Cutting?