How to Deadhead Zinnias in Pots


In this post, I will cover the basics of how to deadhead zinnias in pots. For zinnia growers, the decision to deadhead the flowers or not is usually not up for discussion. Sooner, rather than later, it needs to be done for all the right reasons.  The critical question is mostly about the best way to go about it. When to deadhead zinnia flowers is equally as important; you’d be surprised at the number of folks struggling with this too.

Deadheading flowers is basically cutting off ‘spent’ or fading old flowers. This is essentially about aesthetics but there are additional benefits too. You simply have to do it to prevent too many flaccid and dying flowers from accumulating and making your beautiful collection unpleasant to look at.

So if this is your first time growing zinnias in a pot and want to know how to properly deadhead zinnias in pots, you are in the right place. Everything you need to know about the process, some common mistakes to avoid, and lots more would be discussed in this article. Read on, you bet you’ll have lots of fun.

How to Deadhead Zinnias in Pots

Zinnias are annuals with an incredible ability to grow and bloom faster than most flowers. Few flowers grow from seed to flower quicker. Also, they are incredibly easy to grow. When they bloom, they don’t hold back, producing a massive burst of bright, differently-colored flowers.

Because they grow so fast, deadheading them is critical if you want to optimize their presence throughout the blooming season.

Before outlining how to deadhead zinnias in pots, let’s take a quick look at all the reasons why this is so important, the most suitable time to do it, and other important considerations.

Benefits of Deadheading Zinnias in Pots

While deadheading zinnias can be a personal choice, across the board though, there are four primary reasons to do it. These are:

To keep your zinnias neater

Zinnias, like all flowers, begin to lose their shine towards the end of their growth cycle. Typically they become mushy or dry while the colors begin to fade. This can quickly defeat the main aim of growing the flowers.

Though you could easily grow new ones, it seems like a lot of bother when you can easily prevent this from happening by simply deadheading the dying flowers. New zinnia flowers would quickly grow to maintain the fresh, beautiful appearance we all love.

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Extend your zinnias’ blooming period

Zinnias bloom to set seed. Removing the flowers before they reach maturity and produce seeds, triggers each plant to set more flowers. For the zinnias, this means an extension of the blooming season.

Typical of most annuals, as long as you deadhead the zinnias regularly, the ‘growth and bloom’ cycle would continue all through the growing season. This is because when flowers shed off petals and start to produce seeds, all resources are focused on developing seeds instead of flowers. But frequent deadheading halts this process redirecting the resources into flower production.

The result is healthier plants, and of course, fresher and beautiful flowers.

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Promotes energy conservation

Deadheading old and dying zinnia blooms allows each plant to use its energy optimally for the overall health of the plant. The result is a far tougher and healthier plant that would likely survive anything thrown at it. This also aids blooming throughout the growing season.

Prevent formation of seeds and re-seeding

When it comes to reseeding, zinnias are up there with the best. All the seeds need is moist soil without any further prepping to start growing aggressively. If the seeds are blown to the ground or even on the potting soil, they will self-sow and flourish.

Before you know it, you have more zinnias than you want. The seeds are even hardy enough to wait till next spring to sprout in the most unexpected places. That means more work for you clearing that space. So deadheading regularly can be a preventive measure stopping them from reseeding or self-sowing.

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When to Deadhead Zinnias

Zinnias generally bloom for just a season as should be expected of an annual. The growing season is typically between the middle of summer to the first signs of winter. Because zinnias are versatile and grow fast, there is lots of flexibility in terms of the most suitable time to remove faded or matured blooms.

The normal practice is to deadhead flowers when they start to fade. But you could also cut the flowers any time during the growing season for indoor flower arrangements or simply to make delicious flower bouquets for family, partners, or even neighbors.

That said, to maintain the aesthetics consistency of your potted zinnias, it is recommended that you deadhead the flowers at least once or bi-weekly in the growing season. An added benefit of this schedule is that it encourages you to keep a close eye on the plants invariably promoting overall care and maintenance of the zinnias.

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Quick and Easy Way to Deadhead Zinnias in Pots

If you’re unsure and a little worried about deadheading your potted zinnias, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that it’s quite easy.  Perhaps, the tediousness is all you should worry about due to how often it needs to be done before the season’s end.

Required tools:

  • Bin or bag
  • Sharp gardening shears or pruners
  • Hand gloves (optional)

With your tools ready, follow the steps below:

  1. Put on your gloves.
  2. Examine your potted zinnias closely. Since visibility is crucial here, ensure the area is well-lit before starting.
  3. Look for flowers that are wilting or appear to be fading. If you are unsure about the state of a flower, compare it with others to get a sense of how far gone the flower is.

Note that if you are collecting blooms for bouquets or for indoor decorations, you’d be looking for matured blooms, not necessarily fading or wilting ones.

  1. Use your garden shears or pruners to cut fading blooms already losing their vibrancy.

The cut has to be clean through for each flower. That is why it is essential to use sharp pruners or shears. When cutting, you need to snip off as much of the stem as possible.

  1. Gather the cut blooms into your waste bag and dispose of them appropriately. You could also compost the cut flowers.

How Tall Do Zinnias Grow?

Considerations when deadheading your zinnias:

– If you want the zinnias to grow low and close to the soil, make your cuts as low as possible down the stem.

– Conversely, if you want the zinnias to be taller, deadhead higher up the flower’s stalk.

– It is recommended that you wait until the plant reaches 8 – 12 inches before deadheading; Then snip off the whole zinnia top. This encourages more stems and more flowers. Here, the blooms don’t have to start fading or dying before cutting them off.

– If you are going for really tall zinnias, place a stalk close to each plant for support

– Check each plant carefully. If you see new flower buds, make your cut above them

– If you have several potted zinnias, don’t wait till close to the end of the growing season (early fall for instance) to start deadheading. You might find the task overwhelming.

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Saving  Zinnia seeds

Since zinnias are annuals, they grow only once a year during the growing season. The onset of winter shouldn’t mean the last time you grow zinnias. Collecting the seeds is the best place to start when preparing for the next growing season.

If the plan is to re-seed your zinnia next spring, don’t deadhead the final batch of flowers towards the end of the season; simply save the seeds or scatter them on the potting soil.

You would need a paper plate or towel to collect the seeds and a glass jar or even an envelope to save your seeds.

If you’ve decided to replant grow zinnias again, don’t deadhead the last batch of flowers; let them go to seed instead. You can also scatter the collected seeds in pots or a choice location in your garden. They would sprout when the following spring.

That said, follow the steps below to collect and store the seeds:

  1. Allow the blooms to turn brown and dry on the plant
  2. Next, cut off and spread the spent blooms on a screen.
  3. allow them to air out for about 7 days
  4. Then, tap or shake the flower head gently over the paper towel/plate to collect the seeds.
  5. If there are petals amongst the seeds, separate them. Then spread and allow the seeds to dry very well. This prevents mildew or mold from developing on the seeds during storage.
  6. Finally, pour the seeds into the glass jar or envelope for storage. Seal the storage container very well and store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

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Wrapping up

There are several reasons why every gardener should know how to deadhead zinnias in pots and other flowers. Basically, you’d want to maintain the aesthetics and avoid the blooms looking scattered and in disarray.

Fortunately, the process is straightforward even a newbie can master it quickly. And because zinnias are resilient plants, sprouting new blooms would not be a problem throughout the growing season.