Zinnias are among my favorite summer flowers. I plant these bloom-filled annuals everywhere—my raised beds, my front yard ornamental garden, in pots. I like to plant a variety of colors and several plants, so that a few flowers can be snipped here and there for cut flower arrangements, while leaving enough to be enjoyed in the garden. There are many gorgeous varieties, but today I’m going to talk about the Zinnia Profusion series.
What I appreciate about these plants is the way they form these lovely, uniform clumps in the garden, covered in blooms. Which leads me to understand why the process of naming this plant must have been rather easy. The plants are always bushy and full, and there is a profusion of blooms!
The Profusion series of zinnias is an interspecific cross between Zinnia elegans and Zinnia angustifolia. The large flower traits of elegans were crossed with the disease tolerance of angustifolia. (Interspecific hybridization is the crossing of two species from the same genus.) They bloom throughout the entire season, well into fall when the temperatures really start to dip and eventually affect their vibrancy. Even as they really start to fade, after a couple of frosts, I’m always loathe to pull the plants out because they still look great.
10 reasons why you should consider planting Zinnia Profusion varieties
- The foliage is often described as “durable,” making it resistant to insect pests and not as palatable to rabbits and deer.
- Pollinators love them! My zinnias are always covered in bees and butterflies, and occasionally, I’ll see a hummingbird flitting about and landing on them, too.
- Plants are resistant to powdery mildew.
- The plants grow well in both warm and cool climates.
- Plants are drought tolerant and heat resistant.
- Plants flower continuously even without being deadheaded.
- The Profusion series has seven varieties that have been AAS (All-America Selections) winners, meaning judges from across North America have singled these annuals out for a reason!
- Plants are reasonably compact, which means they are suitable not only for gardens, but for larger container plantings, too.
- They come in a variety of colors, from primary hues, like white, red, and yellow, to pink and apricot. Some colors are doubles.
- Plants flower through the summer until fall’s first frosts.
Starting Zinnia Profusion seeds indoors
I start my zinnia seeds indoors in a container filled with seed-starting mix that I then place under my grow lights, so the plants can get a head start. You may wish to use a heat mat to encourage germination, but I’ve had success without.
Don’t start seeds too early, as they germinate and shoot up quickly (and could become leggy, depending on your light situation). About four to six weeks before your frost-free date is sufficient. Depending on how densely you plant, you may want to thin the seedlings—transfer singles to four-inch (10 cm) pots or cell packs.
Planting zinnia seeds and seedlings
Plant your zinnias in a garden, raised bed, or appropriately sized pot with well-draining soil. Having wet feet can lead to disease. Choose a spot that gets full sun, amend your soil with compost, and plant your seedlings (or sow seeds) after all danger of frost has passed (check your frost-free date as a guideline, but keep an eye on unpredictable spring weather). The soil should be about 70°F (21°C). I plant my seedlings when it’s safe to plant my tomatoes. If you’re planting seedlings started indoors, make sure to harden them off for a few days before planting them directly in the garden.
Sow seeds about a quarter of an inch (half a cm) deep, and space according to the packet’s directions. Water lightly until seedlings have developed, so the seeds don’t wash away. You may need to thin your seedlings. Follow the same steps when planting in a pot, but use a potting soil amended with a bit of compost.
Profusion zinnias generally grow to be about 16 to 18 inches (40 to 46 cm) tall and 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 cm) wide. In cooler, northern climates, they may not quite reach their projected size.
Stagger seed sowing and planting seedlings, so that not all your plants mature at the same time—though the plants themselves will continue to bloom throughout the entire season!
Caring for your zinnias
While plants are drought tolerant, do give them a drink as part of your watering routine.
Fertilize your zinnias every two to three weeks during the growing season with a fish/seaweed liquid fertilizer.
Deadheading isn’t totally necessary, but it does keep the plants looking fresh. Use a clean pair of garden snips to remove spent flowers—or to cut fresh flowers for a bouquet. I avoid deadheading at the end of the season, because the blooms look interesting as fall temperatures start to affect the blooms.
The latest introduction, Zinnia Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor
This year, I’m planting 2021 AAS Flower Winner Zinnia Profusion Red Yellow Bicolor in my raised beds. The red and yellow flowers look pretty stunning, so I’m excited for them to bloom. This variety also won a Fleuroselect gold medal in Europe.
More interesting annuals to grow in the garden
- Container plants for full sun: Choices for colour, foliage, and texture in your summer pots
- When to plant sunflowers: 3 options for lots of beautiful blooms
- How to plant a grow a cut flower garden
- Brighten up dark areas of the garden with annual flowers for shade
- Growing sweet alyssum from seed: Add this bloom-filled annual to raised beds, gardens, and pots
Middle photo of feature image courtesy of All-America Selections