Growing Zinnias in Pots: The Perfect Potted Flower (2024)

If you’re looking for a flower that will provide an endless parade of vibrant blooms all summer long, look no further than zinnias.

These sun-loving annuals are show-stoppers in the garden, but they also make excellent container plants. Growing zinnias in pots allows you to enjoy their riotous colors right outside your door on a sunny patio, deck, or balcony.

While many flowers struggle in the heat of summer, zinnias thrive. They unfurl vibrant blooms in jewel tones of red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, white, and even green from late spring until the first hard frost in fall. Some varieties have simple, classic single blooms, while others are doubles, sporting densely packed petals around a tiny center eye. Their cheerful, daisy-like flowers add an extra zing of excitement to containers and landscape beds.

Best of all, zinnias are some of the easiest flowers to grow from seed. Combined with their long bloom period and tendency to attract butterflies and pollinating bees, it’s no wonder they are a beloved annual for generations of gardeners.

Why Grow Zinnias in Pots?

For small-space gardeners, growing flowers in containers is a must. But even if you have ample garden space, potted zinnias are a fantastic choice for several reasons:

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Zinnias Love Heat and Sun

Unlike more delicate flowers that wilt in the afternoon heat and sun, zinnias thrive in hot conditions and full sun. Growing them in pots allows you to give them the sun exposure they crave.

Extend the Season

You can start zinnias earlier in containers indoors or in a greenhouse. Then you can move them outside once the weather warms up to get a jump on the season. Potted zinnias also allow you to bring them inside to continue blooming after the first fall frosts kill the plants in the ground.

Easy Access

Growing flowers in containers at eye level makes for easier viewing, deadheading spent blooms, cutting flowers for bouquets, and maintaining your plants.


When growing in pots, you can move zinnias around the patio, deck, or garden beds to wherever they show off best or get the ideal sun exposure. Containers on casters or plant dollies make it super easy to reposition your plants.

Control the Growing Environment

By growing zinnias in containers with the right potting soil, drainage, and more, you have much more control over the growing environment than you do in the ground.

Picking the Right Potting Mix and Containers for Zinnias

To grow bountiful, non-stop blooms, zinnias require excellent drainage and airflow around the roots. So pick containers with ample drainage holes and a lightweight, well-draining potting mix.

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Good options for containers include:

  • terracotta or glazed ceramic pots
  • wooden barrels, boxes, or planters
  • Plastic, resin, or fabric pots or grow bags
  • Raised beds or elevated planters

The container size should be at least 8–12 inches in diameter for dwarf zinnia varieties and 12 inches or larger for taller varieties that can grow to 2–3 feet tall.

For potting soil, choose a high-quality, soilless potting mix made for containers. These are light and fluffy, which allows for ample drainage and airflow to prevent soggy soil. Many potting mixes contain slow-release fertilizer as well to feed plants over time.

You can also amend regular potting soil with compost or slow-release fertilizer granules. Just be sure not to use soil from the garden, which can compact too densely in pots over time.

Starting Zinnias from Seed

One of the best parts about growing zinnias is starting them from seed. The seeds are large, easy to handle, and germinate quickly. And since one zinnia plant can produce hundreds of blooms all season, you get maximum flower power for very little investment.

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In cold winter climates, start zinnia seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your last spring frost date. Sow seeds 1/4-inch deep and 2-3 inches apart in seed-starting trays or containers. Once sprouted, move seedlings into bright light from a sunny window or grow lights.

After hardening off seedlings for a week or two, they can be transplanted outdoors once nights stay above 50°F. You’ll get flowers about 8–12 weeks after sowing seeds.

If you live in a warm climate, you can direct sow zinnia seeds right in your outdoor pots after your last frost date in spring.

Whether planting seedlings or seeds, space zinnia plants about 6–12 inches apart in containers, depending on the variety’s expected height and spread. Dwarf zinnias like Zowie Yellow Flame only grow 8–12 inches tall, while taller Benary’s Giants can reach 3–4 feet.

Caring for Potted Zinnias

Zinnias are super low-maintenance, another point in their favor for container growing. Here are some quick tips for keeping zinnia plants blooming their best all season:

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Sun & Heat

Zinnias perform best in full, hot sun. Provide at least 6–8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They’ll even bloom better and with richer colors when temperatures soar into the 80s and 90s.


Established zinnia plants have moderate to high water needs. Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out somewhat between waterings, then soak the pots until excess moisture drains from the bottom. Plants in very hot sun may need watering every 1-2 days.


To keep zinnias blooming like champs, remove spent flowers regularly through deadheading. Simply snap or cut off old, faded blooms from the plants.


Potted plants need regular fertilization to replenish nutrients. Feed every few weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, compost tea, or slow-release granular fertilizer.

Pest Control

Zinnias are fairly pest- and disease-free. The worst offenders are often aphids, spider mites, or powdery mildew. A strong jet of water from the hose is often enough to dislodge aphids and mites. Provide good air circulation and avoid getting foliage wet overnight to prevent mildew.


If you want to grow zinnias as perennials, you’ll have to overwinter them indoors. Before frost, dig up the plants and shake off excess soil. Pot them up in containers and move them into a cool, bright spot indoors that stays around 50–60°F for the winter months. In spring, cut them back, repot in fresh soil, and move them back outdoors to restart growth.

The Best Zinnia Varieties for Containers

There are zinnias suited for just about any container size and style. Here are some top varieties to try:

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Dwarf Zinnias

For smaller pots and containers, look for compact, bushy zinnia cultivars that max out at 12–18 inches tall, like:

  1. Zowie Yellow Flame (bright yellow, red-tipped petals)
  2. Phoenix zinnia series (bicolor flowers in mixed colors)
  3. Profusion series (compact plants in orange, cherry, white, etc.)
  4. Zahara series (bright, saturated mix colors)

Medium Zinnia Varieties

The classic Lilliputs and Oklahoma series mounds are 2-3 feet tall and wide, perfect for larger containers and raised beds. Other options include:

  1. Cut and Come Again (heirloom cutting type)
  2. Magellan (mix of bright colors with sturdy stems)
  3. State Fair (heirloom with big, 5.6-inch blooms)

Tall Patio Zinnia Varieties

For vertical, dramatic floral displays in large pots or half-barrels, choose tall zinnia cultivars like:

  1. Benary’s Giants (huge blooms reaching 4 feet tall)
  2. Zowie Yellow Flame Tall (3–4 feet with unique red-tipped petals)
  3. Oklahoma series (tall but more compact than Benary’s)
  4. Stavi Mix (European variety with huge blooms and strong stems)
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Endless Summer Beauty Right Outside Your Door

Whether you grow just one bountiful pot or an entire patio garden, decorating with potted zinnias opens up so many possibilities. Their vibrant blooms and long flowering period allow for constant color all summer, right outside your door.

With so many sizes, shapes, and hues, from the petite dwarf Zahara to the towering Benary’s Giants, there’s a zinnia perfect for every gardener’s taste. Add some pizzazz and cheer to your outdoor spaces this season; your local pollinators will thank you too

Creative Potted Zinnia Designs

One of the beauties of growing zinnias in containers is the endless design opportunities. With their brilliant rainbow of flower colors available, you can get really creative with eye-catching zinnia displays and combinations.

Some fun ideas for potted zinnia arrangements include:

  • Multicolored Combos
  • Plant a single large pot or window box with a zesty mix of zinnia colors like oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks all together.
  • The complimentary warm tones look striking when jumbled together. Or, go bold by combining contrasting hot pinks, purples, reds, and lime greens.

Monochromatic Plantings

For a chic, modern look, fill a series of matching pots or a trough planter with zinnias all in the same shade—like layers of brilliant orange, pure white, sunny yellow, or cranberry red. The simplicity of a monochromatic planting allows the richly saturated colors to take center stage.

Thrilling Zinnia Thrillers

Use extra-tall, showy Benary’s Giants zinnias or the Zowie Yellow Flame Tall variety as a burst of height in the center of larger patio containers. Surround the vibrant zinnia “thrillers” with spilling trails of calibrachoa, sweet potato vines, trailing petunias, or other complementary filler and spiller plants.

Cutting Patch

Designate a large raised bed or half barrel as your dedicated cutting garden for bouquets. Plant rows of different zinnia varieties that bloom over an extended period and in a rainbow of colors to ensure plenty of flowers for cutting from early summer into fall.

Butterfly Magnet Planters

Zinnias, along with other bright nectar-rich flowers like lantana, pentas, and coneflowers, are excellent for luring butterflies right to your patio or deck when grown in big, colorful containers. Plant a rainbow zinnia mix along with butterfly favorites and set the planters in a sunny spot for constant winged visitors.

Patriotic Pots

Get into the summer spirit by designing patriotic red, white, and blue zinnia planters for Memorial Day through the 4th of July. Fill a big pot with classic red zinnias like Benary’s Giant ‘Will Rogers,’ and combine them with white Zahara Candy Mix zinnias and blue salvia, or mix scarlet ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ zinnias with navy petunias and white bacopa.

Kids’ Zoo Zinnia Pots

Zinnias make a wonderful kid’s gardening project. Let little ones go wild, decorating their own containers with their favorite vivid zinnia colors. They’ll be so excited to watch their “zoo” of zinnias grow taller and bloom over the summer. For extra fun, provide animal figurines or toys to tuck into the zinnia “zoo” pots.

Fall Front Door Planters

In late summer, freshen up porch planters for fall by adding rich burgundy and scarlet zinnias like Benary’s ‘Will Rogers’ or ‘Zowie Yellow Flame’ zinnias. The bold flowers mixed with cool-weather favorites like pansies, violas, ornamental peppers, and trailing ivy make for a colorful autumn display.

Even More Reasons to Grow Zinnias in Pots

Beyond their versatility and prolific flowering, there are so many other great reasons why zinnias make the perfect patio and container plant:

Attracting Pollinators

Zinnias are highly attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with their bright colors, single blooms that provide easy pollen access, and plentiful nectar production. Potted zinnias bring the pollinators right up close on your balcony, deck, or near outdoor living areas.

Endless Cut Flowers

With just a few potted zinnia plants, you’ll have plenty of flowers for cutting and bringing inside to enjoy in vases and bouquets all summer. Zinnias make wonderful, long-lasting cut flowers.

Fresh, Edible Blooms

Zinnia blooms and even the young leaves and stems are edible with a zesty, slightly peppery flavor! The brightly colored petals are perfect for garnishing salads, veggie dishes, and summer co*cktails for an extra punch of color and zing. Zinnias are commonly used in Mexican cuisine.

Drying Zinnia Blooms

Preserve the beauty of zinnias by drying bouquets of flowers for winter arrangements. Simply hang cut stems upside down in a warm, dark place until fully dried out, about 2–3 weeks. The dried blooms will hold their form and rich color for months.

Growing zinnias in pots opens up so many possibilities for design and easy enjoyment of these sun-loving, summertime bloomers. With just a container and some zinnia seeds, you’ll be treated to an endless floral parade on your patio, deck, or balcony all season long!

Growing Zinnias in Pots: The Perfect Potted Flower (2024)
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