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Are Zinnias Perennials or Annuals?

Never in my life had I seen such exquisite flowers with various color options. I grew them in my garden and kept asking myself, “are Zinnias perennials?”

Well, because I did not want these beauties to die off in a year.

Generally, almost all varieties of Zinnias are annuals, meaning they only grow for one growing season before producing seeds. But they behave like a perennial in warmer climates like zones 9 to 11. 

Zinnia Flowers
Zinnia Plants produce one of the most distinct and beautiful foliage in the plant kingdom.

I was heartbroken with this discovery but was instantly revitalized after discovering that they are pretty easy to regrow.

So, dive right in if you want to grow Zinnias in your garden and want to know about their nature in detail.

Annual Vs. Perennial

As a plant lover, you need to understand the basic concept behind categorizing plants as annuals and perennials.

Perennial plants have a lifespan equal to or longer than two years and regrow every spring, while the annual plants live for about a year before they die off.

Annual vs Perennials
Annual and perennial plants are mainly categorized by their lifespan.

That said, perennial plants are not invincible; they will die off once they reach the end of their specific lifespan.

Other noticeable differences between annual plants and perennial plants are mentioned below.

  • Due to a lower lifespan, annual flowers spend most of their energy producing blooms. Hence, they have a longer blooming period than perennials.
  • If you want to stay on budget, we recommend going for annual, as they are cheaper than perennial plants.
  • Care requirements for perennial plants are harder than that of annual plants. However, perennials may not need your care in their native zone.
  • Most annual plants can self-sow and return in the next growing season, while only a few perennials self-sow.
  • Annuals allow you to plant them in whatever season, while perennials prefer to be planted in summer and spring.

Understanding what plants are annuals and what plants are perennials will help you a great deal in understanding their care requirements.

Are Zinnias Annuals or Perennials?

In most growing zones, Zinnias are annuals rather than perennials. They flourish during the warm season and wither away after the severe frost.

On the other hand, Zinnias behave as perennials in a warmer climate and are regarded as perennials, particularly in USDA zones 9 to 11.

You can call Zinnias temperennial, which means they behave as annual or perennial depending on their growing location or climate.

Zinnia Flowers
Zinnia plant is temperennial. They show the characteristics of annual and perennials depending on the climate and location.

Zinnias’s upper shoot part will die yearly, but the underground part may remain alive. Many gardeners choose to remove the roots as well to provide space for other plants.

But before their death, they have a high chance of reseeding the garden again.

Dahlia is a perennial flower that shares too much resemblance with Zinnia.

Almost all varieties, like giant Zinnias, Zahara Zinnias, Magellan Zinnias, Profusion Zinnias, etc., are perennial in growth zones 9 to 11.

Let us look at the table below to know which Zinnias grow best as annual and perennial.

AnnualPerennial
Zinnia haageanaZinnia acerosa
Zinnia elegansZinnia grandiflora
Zinnia angustifoliaZinnia anomala
Zinnia profusionZinnia zahara (in zones 9-11)
Zinnia magellanGiant Zinnia (in zones 9-11)

One of the dwarf Zinnia perennial varieties won the All America Selections in 1963.

Apart from their annual or perennial nature, Zinnia colors are an aspect that stands out the most.

When and How to Plant Zinnia Seeds?

Zinnias are not too much needy when it comes to their care and their seeding needs. Even without human intervention, they can fill up your garden real quick.

At the end of their life cycle, the flowers dry up and leave seeds behind, carving the path for the new plants.

The best time to plant the Zinnia seeds is right after a harsh frost season has passed. You can plant them in your garden.

Zinnia Seeds
Zinnia Seeds are pretty easy to collect after the flowers dry out.

For better results, you can start the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the frost ends.

To plant Zinnia seeds properly, follow the steps below.

  • Get your Zinnia seeds from spent blooms, or you can buy them online if you are just starting.
  • Prepare a garden bed to plant the seeds and water them thoroughly a day before planting them.
  • Sprinkle the seeds over the soil, keeping a distance of about 6 inches between each seed.
  • Press the seeds at least 1/4 inches deep in the soil with your thumb.
  • You will witness the seed turn into seedlings in about four days to a week.
  • After the seedlings have reached about four inches, trim their foliage to provide better air circulation among the plants.
  • You may have to wait a month or more to see the blooms.

You can pinch off the top flowers as they bloom to have a better shot at the overall plant growth.

If you want to grow the Zinnias indoors in your pot, you can experiment with dwarf Zinnia varieties like Dreamland Mix, Magellan Mix, etc.

Grow Zinnias from Cuttings and Cut Flowers

You can also grow zinnias from cuttings if you run out of seeds. To get healthy stem cuttings, all you need is a mature, healthy Zinnia plant.

Zinnia Cutting
Zinnia cutting provides you with the benefit of growing the plant quicker than via seeds.

The first step is to collect an 8 inches long healthy stem or a flower stalk. After that, follow the steps below to ensure success.

  • Remove all the leaves close to the base, but leave the leaf nodes intact from the collected plant cutting or stalk.
  • Dip the base of the cutting in the rooting hormone.
  • Get a clear jar of water and place the cutting there. Make sure not to submerge the leaves, or the plant will rot.
  • Place the jar in a warm location where it gets indirect bright sunlight.
  • Change the water every one or two days.
  • In about a week to ten days, you will witness roots forming on the base.

You can plant the Zinnia cuttings directly in the soil to avoid the trouble of transplanting the cutting to the soil.

If you trim the plant’s foliage when it grows, it responds by growing out even faster. Use it to your advantage.

Tips to Grow Zinnia as Perennial

No matter the nature of the plant, if you do not provide it with enough care, you will kill it.

So, follow the tips below to provide optimum care for growing your Zinnia as a Perennial plant.

  • Zinnia prefers full, bright sun; therefore, keep your plant in bright sunlight for a minimum of 6 to 8 hours.
  • Make sure the top 6 inches of the soil is moist consistently. So you may need to water it a few times a week.
  • Keep the temperature above 60 °F at all times. You can also use frost blankets to protect the plant if the temperature drops down.
  • During the winter, place your Zinnia under a grow light for at least 6 to 8 hours.
  • You can start their seedlings in the greenhouse to grow Zinnias as perennials.
Zinnia cannot survive frost
If the temperature has dropped to the frost point, you need to buy a frost blanket. For the plant, of course!
  • Provide your Zinnia with moderate humidity of 30-50%.
  • Zinnia prefers fertile, well-draining soil that is full of organic matter.
  • You can sow Zinnia seeds early in the winter. However, maintain a warm temperature and moderate humidity consistently.
  • As heavy feeding plants, you must provide a balance of 10-10-10 fertilizer every 1 to 2 months for Zinnia.
  • You must prune the zinnia plant to promote aggressive growth once it reaches a height of about 10 inches.
  • Check for the signs of aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites and spray neem oil on the foliage to control them.
  • Watchout for diseases like bacterial leafspot and powdery mildew and treat them in time.

Trust me, I followed the above tips properly and was rewarded with healthy plants and equally healthy blooms.

Conclusion

Although most Zinnia varieties are annuals, some may act more like perennials depending on the climate.

Furthermore, they have bright, solitary, daisy-like flowerheads on a single, upright stem, making them ideal for indoor decoration.

Therefore, do not tangle yourself with the question regarding Zinnias’ nature. Just go with the flow and grow these beautiful plants in your garden.

Happy Gardening!

You may be interested in reading about; best zone 4 perennials

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