Best Zinnia?

sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)May 4, 2007

Hi all,

Just wondering what everyone's opinion was on Zinnia colors/varieties - has anyone had luck with a particular 'flavor' ;) in terms of attracting butterflies?



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I got dwarf zinnias this year must say Im not happy with them they nowhere as good as the big zinnias I had last year.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 3:26PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

There are so many kinds of dwarf zinnias...which were you disappointed with?

I've grown the Magellan series for quite some time; what incredible color! I have a bit of trouble with leaf spot diseases with them, but not too bad. My favorites are the Profusion series. They attract so many butterflies that the children next door have to come over and look. Both of those are considered dwarfish, but both have good sized flowers. No problems with disease on this zinnia whatsoever, even in my heavy clay soil.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 3:47PM
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I love my Cut and Come Again Zinnias and so do my butterflies.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 5:30PM
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I planted a lot of the profusion series this year, mainly because they are single flowers. I had some single pinks last year, that the Monarchs just loved! I think they like the singles better because they have a flat landing pad and better access to the nectar.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 7:56PM
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All I seem to have coming back this year are dwarfs. I was in Wal-Mart after reading this post and picked up so. Burpeeana Giants Mix and jutBiant Flowered Mix. I will get them planted tomorrow.

I also planted some Mexican sunflower seed today. When I saw a packet of those I bought another one. These I have never had before.

My drawfs are blooming now. With the warmer weather that should be here to stay until October I know the larger variety with be used too.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 10:30PM
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When I worked at a nursery, we had a cut flower garden that was mostly comprised of Zinnias. The butterflies loved the tall Benary's giants, California Giants, Oklahoma, and cut and come again. I think the reds and purples were most favored but that's just a fuzzy guess.

I've grown the Magellans and loved their lower stature and double flowers. Butterflies did come to them but not quite as readily as the taller varieties.

Profusions didn't attract as many although in the fall, the Ladies that were migrating back south did seem to appreciate the white profusion.

My greatest success came from planting a large block of tall zinnias.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:05AM
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I planted profusion zinnias last year, and the butterflies that they attracted were the very small ones, the hairstreaks and skippers. The larger butterflies were not interested in them at all, and the monarchs migrating through in the fall flew right past them. They are beautiful though, and mildew-resistant.

I had some tall red ones which were the most poopular of my zinnias. They really seemed to prefer the red over the purple zinnias. But, as typical of zinnias they got powdery mildew at the base of their leaves, even though I tried not to get water on the foliage. By the end of the summer, the butterflies still loved them, but they drove me crazy and I finally cut them back because the foliage looked so bad.

I also planted some Zowie Zinnias. They were sort of a bi-color orange hybrid. They didn't grow as tall, maybe 2 1/2 feet, and mine stayed looking nice all the way till frost. A little bit of mildew, but not too bad. They were not as favored as the red zinnias, but they lasted longer, and the migrating monarchs absolutely loved them. By the time the monarchs got here, I had already cut down the paltry looking reds.

Just my thoughts.....


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 9:22AM
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Oh, and one more thing, my mother-in-law planted lilliput zinnias with the tiny flower. They didn't attract butterflies at all, I would stay away from them.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 9:26AM
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sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)

Thanks for the opinions and ideas, everyone! Keep 'em coming.
Elaine, I have some Zowie seeds - LOVE the color.... nice to hear they weren't ignored completely (in your garden, anyway!) Hope the migrants through here will love them too. :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:13AM
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Are these lilliput zinnias these are the ones I have not liking them much grew them from seed.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:41PM
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bttfly9(z9a FL)

When I was in WI I had a winning combination. I planted tall RED flat zinnias in back and then planted profusion zinnias in front. I had a row of 25 of them. What was great was that in addition to other plants I had, I finally attracted some hummingbirds, an added bonus.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 8:59PM
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Not sure, but those look like lilliput zinnias to me.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 11:59PM
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Angie, the last picture could be Liliput, but the first ones look like profusion..

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 12:55AM
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This thread got me to wondering which ones I should grow. I already had a packet of California Giants and Pulcino, not yet planted. Maybe one of them will be a success.

Anyway, I did a search and found this. Not a lot of info but it's something.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 4:02PM
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sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)

Hey Zee, thanks for the article! Here's the bit about butterflies copied from your link (wonder if any of the gardeners mentioned lurk around on this site?? :)

"Some zinnias are more attractive to butterflies than others. I interviewed some gardeners from around the country to find out which varieties worked best for them. Surprisingly, single-flowered, species zinnias aren't the uncontested favorites.
In eastern Washington, where summers are hot and dry, Patti Ensor found Peruvian zinnias to be only moderately attractive to small butterflies, such as skippers. According to Ensor, they don't hold a candle to the large double 'Cut and Come Again'. With its sturdy landing platform, the latter is a major attraction for Western Tiger Swallowtails, who linger to sip nectar. 'Cut and Come Again' blooms from midsummer to frost, in hot shades of pink, yellow, orange, and scarlet.
Minnesota gardener Cathy Leece devotes a sizeable flowerbed to zinnias of many shapes and colors. Last year, Leece planted single-flowered Peruvian zinnias in expectation of fabulous butterfly viewing. "I was surprised at how tall and branched out they got," she says. "They filled half the bed, crowding out the other varieties behind them. And they didn't attract butterflies."
Blue Point Formula Mix and 'Royal Purple' (a Blue Point zinnia from Park Seed) have been the most popular zinnias in Leece's garden. The latter's big purple flowers, in particular, are a magnet for fritillaries, American Painted Ladies, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Moderately attractive zinnias include giant cactus-flowered 'Sunbow Mix' and Z. angustifolia 'Crystal White' (Park Seed's name for 'Star White'). Leece has found that 'Envy' and, Z. haageana 'Persian Carpet' have not attracted visiting butterflies.
The Star series of Z. angustifolia proved to be most popular in Denise Gibbs's Maryland garden. "'Star White' was the best," says Gibbs, "attracting blues, sulphurs, hairstreaks, skippers, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, and others. It made a beautiful display, cascading over the edge of a planter on my deck. 'Star Gold' was also attractive, but I saw little activity on 'Star Orange'."
Gibbs also grew Z. 'Profusion Orange' and 'Profusion Cherry'. In spite of their single flowers, they did not attract many butterflies. The very similar Pinwheel series, however, attracted a diversity of species well into October."

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 5:17PM
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Sandy, The Blue Point Zinnias are the same as the Benary's Giants that I grow.

I can concur that persian carpet,while pretty and unusual, didn't attract butterflies.

Oklahoma is a great variety, with smaller flowers and more disease resistance.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 8:29PM
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Does anyone have any updates on the Color of zinnia that is most attractive to their butterflies??

I noticed when I've been watering the garden in the past few days that our Monarchs are going to the Orange Zinnias over the white pink or pale coral benary giants. These were seeds from Renee's Seeds "Hot Crayon Colors" mixture.

Any other observations out there???

Thanks and happy butterfly-ing.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 2:16PM
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Tony G(5a)

it's been a while since I've visited the butterfly forum. I miss them as it's dipping down to twelve below zero tomorrow night...ugggghhhhhhh

last summer we planted "come and cut again" which attracted red admirals, monarchs, black swallowtails, eastern swallowtails and a couple other varieties I can't remember.

lilliput was not AS popular. As a whole, the monarchs didn't flock to it, but the ones who did seemed to really like it. Red admirals also flocked to it for a time.

I will definitely plant come & cut in 2011 but will try out some new varieties to replace lilliput.

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions, Happy 2011!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 11:35PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I grow a swath or 2 of the tall colorful varieties of Zinnia elegans every year. I've grown Cut & Come Again, California Giants, State Fair, and the regular Zinnia elegans seeds (from Everwilde). My favorites so far are the State Fair, but they are all similar. The butterflies, hummers, and bumblebees, love these tall Zinnias. They predominantly have the single and semi-double blooms, which the butterflies seem to prefer because they offer easy access to the nectar tubes.

I've grown the shorter varieties, such as Profusion and Magellan, but haven't ever noticed any of the larger butterflies on the short zinnias - maybe just a few Skippers or a Sulfur?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 3:19PM
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Last year I grew some red zinnias called 'Scarlet Flame' and had lots of butterflies. For next summer, I've bought more of those and ordered some Zowie Yellow Flame seeds. That one is an All American Selections Winner. I have some mixed seed of taller varieties to grow too.
Sometimes you can tell from photos which zinnias have lots of the little yellow florets near the center. That's where the nectar is. They're very obvious in the photos of Zowie Yellow Flame. I'm going to be surprised if the butterflies don't like them.

I let Google's image feature help me decide too. I put in the name of a flower and the word butterfly or swallowtail and if no pictures of butterflies come up it makes me skeptical, even if the description says it attracts butterflies.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google Images - Zinnia Zowie butterfly

    Bookmark   January 10, 2011 at 7:55AM
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I planted Come & Cut Again Zinnias from seed. They were beautiful, & I was very proud of them, as it was my 1st effort from seed. However, I had many different butterflies visit the garden, & all of the ignored the Zinnias. The Monarch, Painted Lady, American Lady, Red Admiral,Ourple spotted Red Admiral, Mourning Cloak, etc, all ignorned them. I would like to plant them again, but I have a butterfly garden & very limited space, so they won't be planted again this year. I can't afford the space for them. I have pics of them on my page, please stop by & have a look.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 5:32PM
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I planted THE best butterfly-attracting Zinnias ever, last year in my butterfly garden. They were Whirligig Zinnias. Some are doubles, the others are single-flowering, and they come in bi-colors like crazy! The large butterflies like Monarchs, Gulf Frits, and Swallowtails were all over them, along with the medium-sized down to the Skippers. I will never be without this variety again.

I got my seeds from Hazzard's, but there are a lot of places that carry the Whirlgigs, which can also be found under the name Carousel.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:18PM
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Tony G(5a)

Hi Susanlynn, the whirligigs also attract monarchs and swallowtails up north but in a side by side taste test, they definitely preferred our california giant zinnias.

This year I'm trying the TALL state fair zinnias. Those have the largest flower heads of any I've seen. I'm hoping they attract lots of butterflies. Tony

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 9:51PM
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I grew the Giant Red Zinnia's which I believe are the same as the Scarlett Reds, and I also grew Benary's Giant Yellow. I also grew Tithonia. The butterflies loved them. However, I did not care for the tall plants they grew over 5'!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:59PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Tony I love the State Fair Zinnias. They are quite colorful. I also grew the Scarlet Red's too, Ladyrose. I usually grow a mix of these with Cut & Come Again thrown in.

Last year's Zinnias attracted lots of butterflies, including a number of Painted Ladies that hung around on the Zinnias and Tithonia daily for the latter half of the summer.

One of my Monarch releases -

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 12:30PM
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