Zinnia Companions: 7 Flowers & Vegetables To Plant With Zinnias

orange zinnia flower companion planted with cucumber plant

Zinnias make a great addition to any garden, as well as a great companion plant to almost any other flower or vegetable you could grow. They are easy to grow, produce armfuls of colorful flowers, and don’t require much maintenance once established. 

In a nutshell, companion planting means growing different types of plants together so that they benefit from each other’s presence. Zinnias are a great candidate for this method of gardening for several reasons. 

I talk more about companion planting in this episode of my podcast, Organic Gardening For Beginners, if you’d like to dig a little deeper into the concept. It’s one of my favorite gardening methods to use.

But back to zinnias…

I especially like growing zinnias in my vegetable garden because the flowers attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies (did you know monarch butterflies love zinnias?), and hummingbirds. For my crops that need pollination, such as tomatoes, zucchinis, and cucumbers, anything I can do to help facilitate the process is beneficial.

My zinnias are planted alongside cucumbers, tomatoes, and chijimisai, an Asian green. It’s a happy garden bed!

In addition to attracting pollinators, zinnias also provide nectar for honeybees, bumblebees, and hummingbirds. The flowers are also attractive to beneficial insects such as ladybugs, hoverflies, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. This means that your garden will benefit from having more insect predators and parasites. Beneficial insects are essential for controlling pests in your garden without resorting to chemical methods. 

If that weren’t enough, zinnias also make lovely cut flowers with a long vase life. You can find varieties of virtually any color and bloom shape, so you can design any type and color of bouquet you want, straight from the garden.

Want to learn how to pick these beauties for bouquets? Learn here: Zinnias As Cut Flowers: The Best For Bouquets. Even if you pick some stems for yourself, zinnias produce so many flowers that there will still be plenty for the bees, butterflies, and others to enjoy.

Two of my favorite cut flower books showcase zinnias and all their benefits. Maybe it’s time to add to your library!

My favorite flower gardening books

  • If you’re new to cut flower gardening, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden should be first on your reading list. Plant profiles, seasonal tasks, and arrangement tutorials will get anyone started with growing their own bouquets.
  • Vegetables Love Flowers will show you how effective companion planting can be for adding plant diversity, attracting pollinators and birds, and squeezing a few more plants into your garden space. 

In fact, cutting zinnias frequently will encourage even more blooms from these cut and come again flowers.

With all those benefits to having zinnias in your garden, it’s worth finding room for at least a handful of plants. If you’re tight on space or you just like to have your plants mix and mingle, then all the more reason to use companion planting with zinnias in your garden. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

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1. Tomatoes

It’s my humble opinion that no garden is complete without at least one tomato plant. Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, provide delicious fruit, and are available in a plethora of varieties. 

In fact, there are so many varieties of tomato out there that you could plant a handful of new varieties each year and not repeat any of them for years to come. 

baby reaching for tomatoes on fence, with zinnias
Tomatoes and zinnias make such good companions that even your kids will want to check it out!

To get a bumper crop of any tomato variety you end up planting, you need pollinators to visit the tomato blossoms. Use zinnias to attract bees to pollinate the tomato flowers and get your tomato production going. 

Zinnias also bring in beneficial insects like parasitic wasps, which are a huge help against tomato hornworms, one of the most damaging pests of the vegetable garden. 

2. Basil

Basil is often paired with tomatoes in the kitchen, so it makes sense to plant them together in the garden, too. While you’re at it, put a zinnia plant or two nearby and provide the bees that will already be coming to the basil flowers with another option to land on. 

Basil and zinnias make beautiful plant combinations in the vase, as well as in the garden. The bold colors of zinnia with the delicate white blossoms of basil make a bouquet of beautiful blooms that will brighten any kitchen counter or table. 

3. Cucumbers

Cucumbers are another staple in the summer garden. Unfortunately, they are often plagued by aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. Zinnias can help combat these pests by attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, which feed on the pests listed here. 

zinnia growing with cucumbers
Zinnias and cucumbers share the same tomato cage. Companion planting at its finest!

Remember that cucumbers have vines that will spread out and grab onto whatever they can find. If you don’t provide a trellis, you may find the cucumber vine tendrils grabbing onto your zinnia plants and constricting the leaves. 

Do your zinnias a favor and trellis your cucumbers!

4. Peppers

Even in cooler climates, gardeners can successfully grow sweet and hot peppers during the summer. They need to be planted in the sunniest area you have so they grow well and ripen. 

Zinnias are also sun-loving plants, so staggering plantings of pepper and zinnia seedlings in the spring will provide you with a garden bed full of peppers and flowers all summer long. 

Pay attention to the mature height of each plant as you plan out your garden bed. Some zinnias stay short at around 12 inches tall, while others tower at four feet tall. If you choose a tall variety, you don’t want to shade out your sun-loving peppers, so keep the peppers to the front and the zinnias to the back. 

5. Cosmos

If you could only grow two annual flowers in your garden, let it be cosmos and zinnias. Both flowers are incredibly prolific bloomers, and their flowers are excellent for cutting. A bouquet made of open, saucer-like cosmos flowers and round, ball-shaped zinnia blooms is a pretty picture, indeed. 

Fortunately, both flowers prefer full sun, well-drained soil, and are planted in late spring when the soil has warmed up, so they are easy to grow together every year.

They are both drought tolerant as well once established, so if you have a water-wise garden, then all the more reason to mix the two flowers. And just like zinnias, cosmos are super beneficial to the garden. Find out how in this article, 10 Reasons Cosmos Are Good For The Garden.

6. Dahlia

Zinnias and dahlias are often mistaken for being the same flower. It doesn’t help that some zinnia varieties are called “dahlia type” due to their bloom shape. These two flowers are separate and distinct, but that doesn’t stop them from being great companions in the garden. 

Similar to growing zinnias with cosmos, pairing zinnias and dahlias in the garden gives you one-stop shopping for a fresh bouquet from the garden. Dahlias need full sun and well-draining soil, so they can share the same flower bed or container as zinnias with no complaints. 

 7.  Salvia

Ornamental salvia and culinary sage are actually the same genus of plants. Both are called salvia, and both are perfect companion plants for zinnia. In this case, though, I’m highlighting the ornamental salvia, often seen with crimson plumes.

red zinnia with black eyed susan
A red zinnia, yellow black-eyed Susan, and pink salvia all mingle to make a gorgeous flower bed.

Ornamental salvias are often treated as annual flowers, even though some varieties can be perennials. These amazing flowers will provide nectar for hummingbirds and other pollinators to enjoy, delivered in arching, bell-shaped blooms on tall stems from summer to autumn.

The vibrant red varieties are most attractive to hummingbirds, while bees prefer purple and blue flowers, so include a variety of colors for a striking combination. 

Just like zinnias, saliva will take all the sunlight it can get and can be drought tolerant once established, so they are ideal neighbors in a sunny garden. Both flowers can also be pals in a pot if you’re into container gardening. Get all the details in this article, 12 Cut Flowers To Grow In Containers (Plus tips for success).

Keep reading

And just like that, you have a list of seven other plants you can grow with your zinnias!

If your summer garden is already established, but you’ve decided that mixing in some zinnias is the way to go, then you (probably!) have time to squeeze them in. Check out this article for a timeframe for summer planting zinnias: Plant Zinnias In Summer For Easy Blooms And Fall Color.

My two favorite cut flower books will sing the praises of zinnias and companion planting if you want to learn more (you do!):

My favorite flower gardening books

  • If you’re new to cut flower gardening, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden should be first on your reading list. Plant profiles, seasonal tasks, and arrangement tutorials will get anyone started with growing their own bouquets.
  • Vegetables Love Flowers will show you how effective companion planting can be for adding plant diversity, attracting pollinators and birds, and squeezing a few more plants into your garden space. 

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