Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 704 Zinnia elegans

Common Names: zinnia, common zinnia, youth-and-old-age Family: Asteraceae (aster/daisy Family)
Image Gallery

The common zinnia is uncommonly beautiful and easy to grow.
yellow zinnia
This large selection with ruffled petal is from the 'Burpeana Giants Mix'.


Zinnia elegans is the most well known of the 20 or so species in the Zinnia genus. The wild form is a coarse, upright, bushy annual, to 30 in (76 cm) high, with solitary daisylike flowerheads on long stems, and opposite, sandpapery, lance shaped leaves. The ray flowers are purple, the discs yellow and black, and the entire head is about 2 in (5 cm) across. Gardeners love zinnias and there are at least a hundred cultivars in a diversity of flower colors and types, some with flowerheads up to 6 in (15 cm) across. There are zinnias with white, cream, green, yellow, apricot, orange, red, bronze, crimson, purple, and lilac flowers; zinnias with striped, speckled and bicolored flowers; zinnias with double, semi-double and dahlia-like "pompom" flowers; zinnias that range from dwarfs that don't exceed 6 in (15 cm) in height to cut flower beauties that get 3 ft (0.9 m) tall. Newer varieties are resistant to powdery mildew and other diseases. 'Old Mexico' is like the wild plant with single, daisylike flowerheads with wide purple rays.


The many garden forms of Zinnia elegans were developed from the wild plant that grows in Mexico. Common zinnia has escaped and naturalized in parts of the southern US, including central Florida.


Zinnias are easy to grow in well drained, rich loamy soil, in the open with full sun. Light: Full sun for most cultivars. The pale green cultivar, 'Envy' tolerates light shade. Moisture: Zinnias do best in well drained soil with infrequent watering. They are quite drought tolerant. Zinnias may become infected with powdery mildew in humid climates, especially if they don't have good air circulation all around them. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 11. Zinnias are warm weather annuals. They do best in climates with long, hot, dry summers. Zinnias do not tolerate frost. Propagation: Sow seeds where the plants are to be grown in spring after the last frost, or set out 6-8 week-old seedlings. Zinnias are sensitive to root disturbance, so be especially careful when transplanting.
dwarf zinnia
The compact cultivar 'Thumbelina' is perfect for pots and borders too!
a bed of zinnias
Orange 'Peter Pan' zinnias flank a bed of cannas (Canna X generalis) (at right) at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Zinnias are traditional in annual flower beds and borders. Use the dwarf varieties in containers and window planters. Grow the taller varieties in borders and beds and for cut flowers. Pinch young stems back to encourage branching unless growing for long-stemmed cut flowers. Deadhead spent flowers frequently to prolong flowering. Zinnias will produce larger (but fewer) flowers if you remove side shoots.


Zinnias are among the few bedding plants that will continue to perform through hot southern summers, all the way up to the first frost. And, they are available in a riot of colors to satisfy any garden plan!

Apparently Zinnia violacea is an older name used for this species in 1791 that some taxonomy purists now insist on using. But I will stick with the well known Zinnia elegans until they pry this keyboard from my cold dead hands.

Steve Christman 6/20/00; updated 5/20/03, 9/5/03, 1/7/04, 2/20/04, 3/23/16

Master Plant List

Click here to find plants in our Encyclopedia using the Master Plant List grid. Use this widget to search, sort and filter Floridata's plant database to easily locate Plant Profile pages. Use the dropdown menus to filter the grid to display items matching the selected Plant Type and Feature tags.

Plant Type Tags

tree icon
shrub icon
perennial plant icon
aquatic plant icon
cactus and succulents icon
grass icon
vine icon

Feature Tags

Attracts Birds
Attracts butterflies
Attracts Hummingbirds
Edible Plants
Cutting and Arranging
for pots and containers
drought tolerant plants
grows in wet soils
ornamental fruits
fall color
foliage plants
easy to grow plants
fast growing

Site Search

Use Google to search all of the pages on Floridata including the Plant Profile pages

Zinnia species profiled on Floridata:

Zinnia elegans

( zinnia, common zinnia, youth-and-old-age )

Zinnia haageana

( Mexican zinnia, narrow-leaved zinnia, orange zinnia )

More Floridata:

Copyright 2015 Floridata.com LLC