Orange and pink zinnia flower

Growing Flowers for Photography: Zinnias

Every year I try to have something new to photograph in the garden. So it’s useful to plant a few annuals to give me the chance to try something different. This year a packet of mixed-colour Zinnia seed has produced a nice crop of willing photographic subjects.

I haven’t grown Zinnias for a long time – years ago in Scotland – but not since we moved here. Why I’ve allowed myself to miss out on them I can’t say. (Probably too busy weeding in springtime to grow much from seed!)

Intriguing shapes in the centre of this zinnia flower

The reward for taking a little time to grow these plants is a border full of colourful flowers that gleam like jewels. They include magenta-pink, a good strong red, an orange that vies with tithonia (Mexican sunflower) for sheer vibrance, and (perhaps the one I like best) a much softer orange that is blushed with magenta. It’s like the floral equivalent of a big bag of mixed sweeties (candy) for a photographer!

The shapes of the flowers are interesting too. I’ve always been attracted to the ring of tiny yellow flowers around the centre of the flower head. (These are the ‘disk flowers’ that make up the centre of a composite flower.) As these disk flowers gradually open closer to the very centre of the flower, the central disc can go from being flat to being conical, as in the top photograph. This gives an interesting variation in shape and more opportunities for different pictures.

There’s a fiery glow from this orange zinnia flower.

Zinnias are not just attractive to photographers, though. Bees love them too. The bee in the bottom photo seemed to have its face stuck right into one of the little disk florets. It was in no hurry to leave, so gave me another photographic opportunity. Thanks, little bee!

Late summer and autumn is a time when the garden here can start to run out of flowers, so the zinnias are especially welcome. And as a late-season bee plant, they are even more valuable. Next year I intend to find space to grow some more zinnias – so the bees and I will both be happy, and there will be lots more photographs. 🙂

Pink zinnia flower with a bumblebee

24 thoughts on “Growing Flowers for Photography: Zinnias

  1. Wonderful images Ann, fabulous colours. I remember a dear allotment friend growing zinnias in her garden each year. She put a lot of work into raising them in their early stages, but the work was worth it, they were joyous when they flowered.

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    1. Thank you Stephanie! They really give a huge amount of pleasure, especially when there’s not so many other flowers around. I love the detail of them. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Anne! They deserve to be popular really, because they are a lovely flower to have at a time of year when other flowers are going over. And they’re easy to grow too. I’ll certainly be growing them again next year! 🙂

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  2. I think I’ve mentioned to you that zinnias were a mainstay of my grandmother’s garden, and that they can be cut at a local farm where they’re grown for sale. I love them so much. Do they require full sun? Would they do in pots? If so, I might try some next year. I have full sun on my patio only two or three hours a day even in summer, so I suspect that wouldn’t be the spot for them. But, I might be able to sneak a pot into a corner of the public space here — then cross my fingers that no one steals it!

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    1. This is the first time I’ve grown zinnias in many years, so I can’t claim much knowledge! But they do seem to like a sunny spot with good drainage. (They are native to central America/Mexico.) I think that a pot is worth trying, especially a fairly big one. (Also worth trying if you can move the pot(s) around to follow the sun… 🙂 )

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  3. I also love the vibrant colors and your crisp photos, Ann. You captured those central disk flowers amazingly well. You also inspired me to grow some zinnias next year because our autumn garden could do with a little more color and with more feeding stations for insects. 🐝🦋

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    1. Thank you Tanja! The detailed centres make zinnias a delight to photograph. I’m sure you’ll love having the late colour of zinnias in your garden – and happy bees too. 🙂

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