Zinnias are annuals that need to be planted each year, but they sometimes re-seed themselves and come up again on their own. You can also gather their seeds yourself in the fall to replant. Zinnias can be planted more than once during the growing season so your garden has blooming zinnias all summer. The extra packets of seeds you buy, and the efforts you make in gathering their seeds in the fall are a small investment for colorful flowers that do well in varied conditions and require minimal care.
Zinnias grow best in full sun in well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of humus content. Plant the seeds ¼ -inch deep and cover with loose soil either in pots indoors, or in late spring well after the last killing frost. If you start them indoors, you can plant the seedlings outdoors when the soil is warm enough.
Depending upon how thickly you have sown the seed, you may want to thin the seedlings and spread them further apart when you transplant them. As they grow and bloom throughout the season, remove the flowers as they die, (this process is called “deadheading”) which will encourage more flowering.
Keep the plants moist, but not wet, throughout the summer. Take care not to get the foliage wet, which could cause disease. Add light fertilizer a couple of times throughout the season. Do not overdo it.
Some pests may appear and eat some of the zinnia’s leaves. Typically, these hardy flowers weather this natural invasion fairly well, even though the leaves may look a little like Swiss cheese. Pests to watch for are caterpillars, mealy bugs and spider mites. For the health of the flower, it’s probably best not to spray pesticides on the plant unless the pests are out of control. Another important reason you do not want to spray them with pesticides is because zinnias attract butterflies, a welcome visitor to any garden.