Are you wondering if it’s truly worth it to grow zinnias in your vegetable garden this year? The answer is an astonishing YES!
Zinnias grow as annuals in Zones 2 through 8. They are heat and drought-tolerant and are overlooked by deer and other wildlife. In addition, they are easy to sow and maintain all season long.
These powerful bloomers feature “cut-and-come-again” flowers. That simply means that the more you deadhead spent blooms, the more new blooms will grow – time and time again! They continue to set blooms from early summer until the first frost, making them a great addition to any property where you want to add a pop of color.
With all of their stunning blooms, zinnias are perfect for attracting pollinators of all sorts as well as other beneficial insects to your property. And while you might consider growing these colorful flowers just in your flowerbeds, think outside the box!
Zinnias also grow well in raised beds, pots, containers, and along sidewalks or driveways. But with all of these benefits mentioned (and more!), they are the perfect flowering annual to add to your vegetable garden as well!
Why Grow Zinnias In Your Vegetable Garden
If you include any flower in your vegetable garden in addition to the do-it-all marigolds, make it be zinnias – And here’s why!
Adding Pops Of Color & Texture – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
This may come as no surprise, but one of the biggest advantages of planting zinnias in your vegetable garden is the addition of their vibrant, colorful blooms.
The endless blooms range in color from red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and pink. They are either single-flowers, double-flowers, or semi-double flowering heads, which can add loads of variety and depth to your garden setting.
In addition, zinnias can vary in height depending on the variety. Dwarf zinnias grow as short as 6 inches tall and are perfect for pots and containers. Some giant varieties can grow over 4 feet tall, making them perfect for gardens and pathways.
Mix it up by including a few different varieties of varying heights depending on your garden design and location. Just keep in mind that taller varieties will need some protection from any wind.
With the range of colors, heights, and bloom styles, there’s definitely a variety of zinnia out there to fit your garden aesthetics – Vegetable gardens included! Product Link : Premium Zinnia Seeds
Attracting Pollinators – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
In order for plants to produce fruit, they need the help of pollinators. Creatures like bees, wasps, hummingbirds, and butterflies are all excellent pollinators.
They help to carry the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. Once pollinated, the female flowers can begin to produce what will become the fruit or vegetable of the plant. One thing is for sure, pollinators are a must have for the vegetable garden!
Most pollinators are attracted to bright colors and textures. While zucchini and tomato blooms are pretty, they just can’t compare to the vibrant pinks, reds, and purples of zinnias. Because zinnias produce multiple brightly-colored blooms, they help to attract and draw in pollinators in droves.
Once they arrive, pollinators are greeted with a ton of pollen as well as nectar, too. And since zinnias bloom from early summer until the first frost, they can feed pollinators all growing season long.
The open petal shape of a zinnia flower also makes a great landing platform for these pollinators to sit on. Some blooms of other flower varieties do not have the shape to allow for this. In addition, zinnia leaves are also large and another great option for pollinators taking a break.
To check out even more annuals that are perfect for attracting pollinators, check out: “6 Annual Flowers That Attract Honeybees – How To Bring In Pollinators!“
Ease Of Growing – Why You Should Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
You might consider some plants to be easy to grow and care for. However, zinnias are the real deal for easy care. To begin with, zinnias are super easy to sow directly in the ground from seed, even in mid-summer!
In fact, zinnias actually have a better chance at survival when they are directly sown into your garden. You can start them indoors and then transplant them into the ground, but direct sowing is best.
As long as you wait until the daytime temperatures are 60º Fahrenheit (16º Celsius) or above, you can plant zinnia seeds outdoors. Choose a location that receives full sun and ensure that the soil is well-draining and fertile.
Germination only takes about 4 to 7 days. Thin seeds once they are a few inches tall to make sure there is good airflow between plants. Keep young seedlings well watered – and that’s pretty much it!
Simple Extended Care
While you should water young seedlings often, only water zinnias once they get established if you get a really dry stretch. You can fertilize plants while they are setting blooms with a light dose of all-natural, liquid fertilizer.
However, you don’t need to fertilize zinnias, especially if you start out with fertile soil to begin with. For continual blooming, be sure to deadhead plants (more on this below).
Attracting Other Beneficial Insects – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
In addition to pollinators, there are many other beneficial insects that gardeners like to have hanging out amongst their vegetable plants.
For example, ladybugs are drawn to the bright colors that zinnia blooms produce as well. Ladybugs are great for munching on dreaded aphids and mites, helping to keep their population in check.
Zinnias are also great for attracting predatory wasps since the blooms are packed full of nectar. While wasps might not be a favorite among humans, they are excellent for controlling aphids, stinkbugs, June bugs, cabbage worms, tomato horn worms, and more.
Sacrificial Crop – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
There are some unwanted garden insects that also love to visit zinnias. While this might not sound like a positive thing, you can actually use it to your advantage.
One of the worst garden pests is the invasive Japanese beetle. These insects often come in by the hundreds and can decimate a vegetable or fruit crop in a matter of days.
While zinnias are nice to keep around, you can use them as a sacrificial crop. A sacrificial crop is one that is used to attract unwanted pests like the Japanese beetle away from more desirable vegetable crops. For example, if you have green beans or another vegetable crops that pests love, plant zinnias nearby. The pest will be more drawn to the zinnias and will often leave your food crops alone.
Cut-And-Come-Again Blooms – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
As mentioned above, zinnias are prolific bloomers. As long as you deadhead spent blooms, they will keep on shooting up new buds. A single plant can produce multiple blooms at the same time and one after another. The more you deadhead and cut, the more blooms will keep on appearing.
You can also cut healthy blooms to create beautiful tabletop displays. Just make sure that the blooms are ready for cutting before pulling out the garden shears. The stems need to be firm and the flower head shouldn’t wobble around when shaken.
To see a few examples of when zinnias are ready for cutting, check out this Instagram Reel. (You can even see one of the beneficial pollinators flying around in part of the reel!)
Self Seed Or Save Seeds – Grow Zinnias In Vegetable Gardens
Even though zinnias are annuals, they can self-sow for the following year. In order to do this, allow the flower heads to dry out and die off in late fall. As the blooms die, the seeds will start to fall to the ground, naturally sowing the soil.
This can not only save you time but also money as opposed to purchasing new seeds each year. Just be aware that your neighborhood birds may choose to dine on the seeds instead of allowing them to sow into the ground.
If this is the case, you can also easily save seeds yourself. Either cut mature blooms or allow them to dry out while still on the plant. If you decide to cut the mature blooms, choose your favorite-looking blooms and cut them off with a few inches of stem remaining.
Let the blooms dry out on a paper plate or paper towel. Once blooms are completely brown, dry, and brittle, gently pull the seeds out from the flower head. Store seeds in a cool, dry place in an envelope or paper bag until ready to use next year.
With all of the added benefits of zinnias, it’s no wonder that they are a gardener’s favorite. Make sure to give them a try in your own vegetable garden this growing season!
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