Are Zinnias Perennial?

Are zinnias perennial? Bright and beautiful, zinnias may be the perfect cutting flower… but you may find yourself asking, will these lovely blooms be here next summer?

Up close photo of a pink zinnia

Are you looking for a cheerful flower that packs a bold punch of color? A flower that is easy to grow for both children and grown ups alike? A flower that attracts pollinators and re blooms all summer? How about a flower that can take the heat and withstand drought?

Yes, we just described zinnias! To plant zinnia flowers is to plant joy, color and fun in the garden.

Since these flowers are so perfect, you may be wondering, will they come back next year?

Are Zinnias A Perennial?

So do zinnias come back every year? Craving heat and lots of sun, zinnias are NOT a perennial in most climates.

Zinnias were first introduced to European gardens in the late 1700’s and originally hail from Mexico. They’ve made their way into gardens worldwide and are known for their cheerful and easy going personalities.

Zinnias growing together in a bunch

This bright bloom is incredibly easy to grow and craves heat and light. They are not too picky when it comes to soil (making them an easy win for beginner gardeners). However, in most climates they are grown as annuals, not perennials.

This means they do not come back each year in most zones and have to either be repurchased or re sown by seed. Both of these methods are easy to do!

Zinnias are excellent flowers to grow with children. Easy and fast growing, they are a great intro to flower gardening for kids. They are fun to cut and fun to give away in simple home made bouquets, brightening up the world one petal at a time.

The Difference Between Annuals and Perennials

What is the difference between annual flowers and perennial flowers, anyway? These gardening terms refer to a very simple concept:

  • Annual Flowers are a one season and done flower. They bloom throughout the late spring, summer and fall seasons as long as the weather cooperates. They tend to crave heat and sun. They may send out seeds, but the plant dies when the frosts hit.

  • Perennials boldly come back year after year, sharing their blooms again and again. Peonies are a great example of a perennial flower.

  • Tender perennials. To make matters complicated, we have to throw tender perennials into the mix. Tender perennials are flowers that are usually grown as annuals, but in certain environments may act as perennials. They may winter over in certain climates.

With their whimsy and color, zinnias make excellent cottage flowers. You can read more about cottage flower gardening here.

Red zinnias at dusk

How To Keep Zinnias Blooming All Summer

Zinnias won’t start thriving until temperatures reach a consistent 65-70 degrees. Depending on where you live, this may be spring (or if you hail from NW Oregon, like us, this often doesn’t happen until July!).

Once the hot weather hits, you can expect your zinnias to take off, grow and start blooming…

And you can do a little planning to ensure that you keep those zinnias blooming all summer long.

A little planning is in order prior to planting your zinnia flowers for a long season of bloming. Ask yourself the following:

  • How much space do you have for planting zinnias?
  • Do you want to buy zinnia plants from a nursery?
  • Are you going to try growing zinnia seeds indoors and transplanting (challenging but doable)
  • And finally, are you able to plant zinnias from seed yourself?

Even if you have just a backyard space, you can easily follow this method to having blooms all summer long.

We have grown a plethora of zinnias in a backyard space but utilizing flower beds, tucking plants in full sun spots, and dedicating a space in the garden just for planting flower seeds.

Steps To Ensuring Zinnias Bloom All Summer:

  • Buy or grow a handful of established zinnias and plant those in the garden as soon as the weather warms up (make sure there is no sign of nightly frosts)
  • At the same time, sow a row or two of zinnia seeds directly into soil
  • Every two weeks, sow another row of zinnia seeds (continue throughout summer months)
  • And now the secret trick to getting your zinnias to grow all summer… dead head them properly!

Zinnias may not come back next year in full force without a little effort, but you can ensure this year is going to be absolutely grand!

Zinnias grown as an annual, not a perennial

Deadhead Zinnias For A Longer Blooming Season

To ensure a long blooming season, be sure to deadhead your zinnias regularly. At least once a week, head out to your zinnia plants.

Harvest a few for bouquets, of course! And cut off any dead blooms in order to encourage new buds. You will be thrilled with how prolifically and quickly zinnias produce flowers.

Warning: Do NOT cut zinnia flower head off only. Instead, follow the stem down to it’s base and cut there. This will result in more flowers branching out and more blooms!

Do Zinnias Reseed Themselves?

Yes, zinnias will drop seeds at the end of their bloom time. Some of these seeds will winter over and result in new plants the next year!

But many will be lost to the toils of the world: excess rain will cause rot, birds will feast, and wind will blow.

Save Zinnia Seeds For Planting Next Year

The best way to ensure you have zinnias blooming in the following year is to collect the small dark seeds that the zinnia plants produce.

Store them in an envelop or plastic bag, label them clearly and store in a dark, cool place that is dry. This is a free way to keep the flowers blooming in your garden… indefinitely!

Can Zinnias Survive The Winter Frosts?

No, zinnias cannot survive winter and/or winter frosts!

They will bloom from late spring right up until first frost. Depending on your zone and the current weather, you may have an early end to your zinnia party, or be enjoying their blooms right up until November!

A beautiful pink zinnia annual growing in the garden bed.

Are Growing Zinnias As Annuals Worth The Effort?

If you have to replant and reseed Zinnias year after year, you may be wondering if it’s worth the effort.

We give a resounding YES to this question! Even though they are not perennials, zinnias are so worth it. Here are a few simple reasons why:

  • Zinnias are incredibly easy to grow, thriving in almost any soil
  • Zinnias are colorful and bountiful, like a mini backyard firework show that lasts all summer
  • They are easy to deadhead to garner more blooms
  • They make excellent cut flowers and are great for sharing (+have a long vase life)
  • Bees and butterflies love them, making zinnias excellent companions for pollinators
  • Seeds are easy to collect and simple to sew

Conclusion

Although zinnias are not perennials, they are absolutely adored in our gardens as yearly annuals. They are a brilliant cut and come again flower spreading joy far and wide!

We hope you plant as many zinnias as your garden beds can hold, and enjoy their plucky beauty all summer long.

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