Zinnia grandiflora

Latin Name: Zinnia grandiflora
Common Name: Prairie zinnia, plains zinnia, desert zinnia, mountain zinnia
Mature Height (ft): 4-6"
Mature Width: 6-15"

Mature Shape

Low growing and spreading groundcover.
Mulch: Inorganic.

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Not our old fashioned garden zinnia.  Zinnia grandiflora is the native zinnia for most of the Midwest, West and Southwestern parts of the United States. So widespread a wildflower, each region has named it theirs: plains zinnia, prairie zinnia, desert zinnia and Rocky Mountain zinnia. A terrific low growing and spreading groundcover for poor soils needing no supplement irrigation. Rugged! A survivor without being a pest!

Prairie zinnia is a groundcover wildflower, spreading by rhizomes. But it's not a nuisance. It's a well mannered groundcover that slowly spreads over time to around 12-18 inches in the garden, and is easily kept in check when necessary.

Garden writers are often unfamiliar with many western native plants. Prairie zinnia is a good example of traditional garden books not really knowing plants native or adaptable to our region. In Flora, a Gardeners Encyclopedia, Zinnia grandiflora is listed as a USDA Zone 9-11 plant, but grows over a wide range and elevations, even in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Its northern range is Kansas.

Propagate by root division in fall or springtime. I like to start root cuttings in the fall by digging up some roots, separating them, and planting in small containers. I then sink these containers in the ground so the top of the container is level with the soil, and will water them periodically over winter. By spring, the plants have a healthy root ball suitable for transplanting.

Water monthly for continuous blooming during drought periods. But it will survive just fine without it. Prairie zinnia is pollinated by bees, butterflies and moths, and is a nectar source for them as well.

Another low water-use zinnia is Zinnia acerosa, a semi-woody shrublet with small white flowers. Z. acerosa grows to 10” tall and spreads to 15”, however, I haven't found it cold hardy in the Texas Panhandle.

Use in Garden

Sunny, no care garden. Habitat garden. Native plant garden. Xeristrip.


No maintenance.