Start Zinnia Seeds Indoors For Early Blooms

Zinnias complement our roses with beautiful blooms

Zinnias complement our roses with beautiful blooms

If there is one flower I must have in the garden other than roses, it is zinnias. One of the easiest flowers to grow, Zinnias provide a multitude of blooms all season long.  To get a jump start on the season, I typically sow seeds indoors in early March and by the time April comes round, i’m ready to plant them in the ground or in containers.

I start with Jiffy seed pellets. Very inexpensive (less than $3) at local stores.

I start with Jiffy soil pelletts

I start with Jiffy soil pelletts

Place the seed pellets them in a tray or other container. I have one seed starting tray that I bought several years ago for this purpose, and I reuse it every year, but any container will do. I also use pie pans, butter bowls or the proverbial dixie cup…..

Add warm water to expand the pelletsadd warm water to cover the pellets.  (To encourage early germination, I use a mixture of composted manure tea and warm water.) The warm water will cause them to expand. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes for the expansion to occur.  Like Jiffy Pop Popcorn, kids love to watch this happen.

expanded jiffy pelletDSCN1779I then dig into my trusty Seed Keeper and select seeds. The Seed Keeper is a great way to organize my seed collection.

Once expanded, I use the tools from my Seed Keeper to take seeds and insert into the top of the expanded pellet, then lightly cover the top of the seed.

DSCN1771My two favorite colors of zinnia are red and yellow. DSCN1769

The Ferry-Morse company has provided my garden with zinnia seeds for many years and I always select from varieties that will provide the best possible visual impact in the garden.

expanded seed pellet


Cover the planted seeds and place in direct light for 5-7 days. According to most seed companies, seeds will germinate in 10-14 days. By adding the composted manure tea to the mix, germination will happen in 5-7 days. That may not seem like a big difference to some, but to me it mean additional days this summer I will have blooms and I’ll take all the joy I can get….

Zinnia Seeds to SproutsYou will see sprouts in no time and come April here in the deep south, i’ll be setting these out in the garden….   Come July, I will sow more seeds directly in the garden for blooms in the fall.

Zinnia from seed

Zinnia InspirationI would love to hear your seed starting adventures and hop that everyday you’ll celebrate the joy that flowers bring!





About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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14 Responses to Start Zinnia Seeds Indoors For Early Blooms

  1. roberta4949 says:

    zinnas easy to grow? I will remember that if I decide to get more plants.


  2. Maryanne says:

    With all the cold and snow we have had this winter, reading your post this morning was like a beam of warm spring sunlight for me….it really did give me hope and make me smile, knowing that soon, very soon I too will be setting out some seeds as well. I do have a question on zinnias… to keep the mold off them which seems to happen each year no matter how careful I am with watering.


    • Thank you so much for your kind words. They are much appreciated. To help keep mold off zinnias I water early in the morning to allow the sun to dry the leaves and always try to plant in a very sunny location. The mold also known as powdery mildew. Since it will spread if unattended, I remove affected leaves as I see them. Hope this help….. Would love to see pics of your pretty blooms this summer….


  3. Pingback: Start Zinnia Seeds Indoors For Early Blooms | N...

  4. Reblogged this on Helena Beautiful and commented:
    Helena Beautification Board Chairman offers seed starting tips on his blog today. Growing zinnias from seed is an easy way to brighten up your garden space.


  5. Chris, I share your love of the zinnia. Such a bullet proof plant and what color! I must get to know my Seed Keeper! I gave all my peat pods away, as I always raised leggy seeds. Not sure I want a grow light and envy all with a greenhouse. Your post inspires! Thanks! D.


  6. I stumbled across this blog while browsing #gardening on Twitter. This is the first year I am starting Zinnia seeds in doors. Thank you for the information it looks like a simple and easy plant to grow.


  7. Oh, Chris, you are a gardener after my own heart! I grow zinnias every year and start them from seed indoors. I also use Jiffy pellets — so easy. However, our last frost arrives the end of May, so I wont start my zinnia seeds for a few weeks yet. I have started a flat of snapdragons, though. Hurray for spring! P. x


  8. I grow zinnias every summer, too. I’ll start mine indoors in mid-April under grow lights. I’m growing nine different varieties this year. I start mine in potting soil filled plastic drink cups with holes burned in the bottom. That way I don’t have to transplant them as often. When I do use pellet pots, i prefer coir since pet isn’t renewable. But my garden is incomplete without zinnias and roses, too. Yours look like they turned out beautiful!


  9. zibbieko says:

    I never knew seed pellets existed till now! Such convenience!


  10. Valerie says:

    Thank you for this very inspiring and informative article!! I am a novice, and chose zinnia to be my first ‘seed to sow’ … I did use Jiffy pellets, by recommendation… and now I want manuer tea and a seed keeper kit;-)


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