Zinnias are very easy to grow annual flowers, with huge, bright blooms. If you’re just learning how to grow plants from seed, or you want to teach a child how to grow plants from seed, zinnias would be a great plant to start with. They like a bright sunny spot to grow in, and tolerate being kept on the dry side. I find the tall varieties need to be staked (i.e. supported with sticks and ties) but the shorter ones don’t.
Zinnias come in many colours but I’m partial to the bright orange ones. I also like the single varieties, as opposed to the double ones. The double varieties have more petals (the whole flower head is covered in petals) but there are so many petals that the areas of the flower that produce pollen are reduced. And one of the great things about zinnias is that bees and other pollinators, including monarch butterflies, like them.
Nurseries in my area don’t usually stock packets of just orange zinnias–they’re all multi-coloured–so I either have to order my seeds from a specialty nursery or save them from the previous years plants. Since it’s simple to collect the seeds, that’s the route I take (unless I forget one year…)
To collect seeds you just need to find a zinnia flower that’s finished blooming, or just about finished blooming. This one has a couple stray petals left, but you can see that it’s all dried out around the base of the flower, which is great–those are ripe seeds!
If you look very closely you can see that the dried out flower (which is now called the seedhead) is full of little dried tubes:
If you turn the seedhead upside down and run your finger over the pockets you’ll discover that those tubes are filled with seeds:
I did this over a piece of paper, and in a few seconds had all the zinnia seeds I will need for next year:
I put the seeds in an envelope, labelled it “Orange Zinnia 2018”, and placed the envelope in a metal cookie tin I store all my seeds in (along with some of those desiccant packages that come tucked in new shoes and purses). About three weeks before it’s safe to plant outside in spring (so, sometime in May) I will plant these seeds in some little pots inside, and then transplant them into the garden outside a few weeks later.