Annuals forum: Zinnias as Houseplants?

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2
Views: 3788, Replies: 31 » Jump to the end
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 22, 2017 12:07 AM CST
Hey, guys. My sister is a senior in college, and is currently taking a class using zinnias as a subject of study. Well, she messaged me today with a picture of a zinnia that she's keeping for me. Though, since it's just one zinnia plant, I'm not sure if I want to just stick it outside. Even so, I'd have to wait quite a bit to plant it since it's only February. It appears to be a mature plant in a disposable pot. I do not have the image saved, it was through snapchat, which discards the image messages after you close them.

Would it be unreasonable to care for this zinnia as if it were a houseplant and keep it inside? Furthermore, if I took care of it, could I be able to get the plant to last past winter in this manner?
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Jai_Ganesha
Feb 22, 2017 1:47 AM CST
Would it be unreasonable to care for this zinnia as if it were a houseplant and keep it inside?


Yes, that is unreasonable. You can't grow zinnias like other houseplants. However...

Several of us here belong to the cult of indoor zinnias. Please read this thread: The thread "It can be fun to breed your own zinnias." in Annuals forum It is extensive but a lot of it involves growing them indoors (especially the most recent few pages, which were composed in the winter).

In the meantime, the things you need to grow zinnias to their best indoors are as follows:

1. Adequate fluorescent or LED lighting (even the brightest window is usually not enough).
2. A timer to keep the lights on and off at the appropriate times (zinnias bloom based on day length).
3. Heating pad or other source of bottom heat.
4. Appropriate soil/mix/base (not regular potting soil).
5. Adequately-sized containers.
6. Urea-free bloom fertilizer.
7. Miscellaneous macronutrients such as calcium nitrate and boron which are not found in adequate amounts in bloom fertilizers or soil mixes.
8. A heavy dose of personal eccentricity.

That's all it takes. It's not nearly as difficult as it sounds at first. Good luck! Thumbs up
Keep going!
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Feb 22, 2017 1:57 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1375749 (2)
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 22, 2017 8:06 AM CST
Hi, Jai. Thank you for the information. Given these conditions, however, I'm hoping the zinnia my sister is holding for me will be ok in her dorm. I'm not sure when she's coming home next and she said she's gonna try to keep it for me until then.

As far as a soil mix goes, should I be looking at maybe top soil as a base?
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Jai_Ganesha
Feb 22, 2017 8:43 AM CST
A high-quality potting mix will work but ProMix BX is more consistent.

Don't forget that no matter what medium you use zinnias are very heavy feeders so in addition to regular bloom fertilizer they will need other elements like calcium nitrate and boron. Outdoors these elements are more plentiful in soil but indoors with pre-made mixes you have to provide them yourself.

How old is the zinnia that your sister has? What kind of lighting and heat is it getting now?
Keep going!
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 22, 2017 9:22 AM CST
I can find all of these at a garden center or something similar? If I can find a good spot to put it, I may plant it in the spring, but in the meantime, I want to make it last until then. Hopefully my sister can do the same.

Jai_Ganesha said:How old is the zinnia that your sister has? What kind of lighting and heat is it getting now?


I have no idea. I know my sister's dorm is prone to getting really hot so they leave the windows open even in the wintertime, which is why I'm babysitting my sister's succulent right now. Though, actually, it may not be in her dorm, now that I think about. I'd hope she's keeping it in the lab with the other zinnias from the project. I'm waiting to hear back from her regarding an issue with her computer; I'll ask her then.
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Feb 22, 2017 10:49 AM CST
bouncyshamrocks said:I can find all of these at a garden center or something similar? ... I'd hope she's keeping it in the lab with the other zinnias from the project.

Hi Amanda, Welcome!
First of all, I second everything that Jai said. Jai is an expert on growing zinnias indoors, and he is doing it now. I do wish to add a couple of comments. (I also grow zinnias indoors, and am doing so now.)

Growing a zinnia indoors is more trouble than growing a houseplant, and I would never go to that much trouble, and expense, for a single zinnia plant unless it were very special. It is possible that the plant might have sentimental value. Has your sister given it a name? So, finding out more about the zinnia plant and the lab project would be appropriate. Situation awareness is always more important than you might suspect. Seek situation awareness.

Commercial zinnia seeds cost only a few pennies each, so that particular zinnia plant needs some very special reason to justify the effort of growing it indoors, with the intent of setting it outdoors in the Spring. Does your sister consider the zinnia plant as worth the effort?

ZM
I tip my hat to you.
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 22, 2017 7:50 PM CST
Hey, ZenMan. I got in touch with my sister, and what she said is that they were going to discard these zinnias (I'm not sure the details on this), and my sister rescued this one for me. She compared it to adopting a lab rat, so I'm not sure if it was leftover or what. She was going to get me one that didn't have a flower but someone else got it first.

I did get confirmation; it is currently in her dorm, by a window. Outside, it is currently in the 50-60s temperature range, but that probably won't last much longer than this week. She has no idea when she will be able to come home to give it to me, or if she will be able to keep it alive until then. While its in her care, would it do alright without extra nutrients? They were grown in the lab and my sister said they were fed with miraclegro, and watered from beneath by submerging the pot in water.

She also asked me what its watering requirements actually were, and I actually don't know. If I could have a suggestion about this that I could relay my sister, that would help her out. She texted me a better picture of what it looked like, as well.

Thumb of 2017-02-23/bouncyshamrocks/ad6eca

There's the baby she rescued for me.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Jai_Ganesha
Feb 22, 2017 9:06 PM CST
This plant would like to be repotted soon. The container is too small to fully support a plant that is in full bloom and expected (hoped) to bloom more.

Zinnia soil should dry out at the top before being watered, but once they are watered it is OK to drench them and then wait again until the top dries out, so long as the soil drains quickly like it would in desert scrub areas of the southwest US and nothern Mexico, where most species are found.

If your goal is to just keep the plant alive, I would cut the flower above the closest pair of leaves since blooming takes the most energy from a plant.

By the way, as luck would have it I have been involved in small animal husbandry and showing for about 20 years and adopting a lab rat is very often a bad idea for several overlapping reasons. I always recommend that people find a breeder or even a good pet store. Taking a plant from a lab can be much less complicated (thankfully) but does have its own unique issues that an animal model organism wouldn't.
Keep going!
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Feb 22, 2017 9:18 PM CST
bouncyshamrocks said:Hey, ZenMan. I got in touch with my sister, and what she said is that they were going to discard these zinnias (I'm not sure the details on this), and my sister rescued this one for me. She compared it to adopting a lab rat, so I'm not sure if it was leftover or what. She was going to get me one that didn't have a flower but someone else got it first.

I see that Jai has just responded with a good message. Thanks Jai.

Well, there is no reason to suspect that these are particularly valuable zinnias, since they have been, in effect, discarded. It's up to you and your sister how much effort you wish to spend on this project.
bouncyshamrocks said: She has no idea when she will be able to come home to give it to me, or if she will be able to keep it alive until then. While its in her care, would it do alright without extra nutrients?

It can probably survive for several weeks without extra nutrients.
bouncyshamrocks said:She also asked me what its watering requirements actually were, and I actually don't know.

It will need to be watered two or three times a week, depending on the relative humidity in the room. The technique of temporarily putting the pot in a bowl containing some water will keep the growing medium moist. But don't drown it. The growing medium needs some oxygen. If your sister sees it start to wilt, it needs watering immediately, from below or from above.

However, as Jai noted, the zinnia is already too big for its pot, and that condition will just become more acute. For best results it should be repotted to a larger pot now. But that would require more potting medium and a larger pot. There is no reason to believe that this particular zinnia is worth that expense and effort. Just keep it watered and in the window and if it survives until your sister's trip, fine.Then it can become yours to care for instead of your sister.

As I said before, zinnia seed is inexpensive, if you want zinnias.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 23, 2017 12:08 AM CST
I'm afraid it won't be able to get a new pot until my sister can bring it home. I don't think much can be done for it in that regard, and I don't want to be petty and demanding of my sister about its care since she was thoughtful enough to get it for me. But I'll let her know about the watering in the meantime.

We're behind schedule, but my dad and I are getting ready to sow our seeds (tomatoes and a few flowers) for our patio... garden-ish thing, so I suppose we could try zinnias if we need more flowers. They can handle direct sun? We need some flowers that handle sun because they didn't have petunia seeds when we were looking for them this weekend. And, would they do well potted outdoors, or should they be planted in landscaping?

--About the lab rat thing, I actually didn't really know that was allowed to begin with. But my sister made that comparison since the zinnias are more or less their test plants, so they're kind of like lab plants in this case.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Image
Yardenman
Feb 23, 2017 7:05 AM CST
A contrary opinion...

A flowering annual in a south facing window, with a light fixture above, should thrive. Depends on the fixture.

I've been doing that with azalea cuttings and they flowered.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Jai_Ganesha
Feb 23, 2017 7:26 AM CST
We can't really make generalizations like "a flowering annual."

The specific factors involved are where the annual is from, what kind of annual it is, where it grows, how it grows, and how similar (or not) indoor conditions are to its native environment.
Keep going!
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Image
Yardenman
Feb 23, 2017 8:13 AM CST
Jai_Ganesha said:We can't really make generalizations like "a flowering annual."

The specific factors involved are where the annual is from, what kind of annual it is, where it grows, how it grows, and how similar (or not) indoor conditions are to its native environment.


And the point IS...

Given the right conditions, any plant can be houseplant. You just need to know what it needs.
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Feb 23, 2017 8:21 AM CST
bouncyshamrocks said: ...so I suppose we could try zinnias if we need more flowers. They can handle direct sun? We need some flowers that handle sun because they didn't have petunia seeds when we were looking for them this weekend.


Hi Amanda,

Zinnias are a full sun plant, where "full sun" is defined as at least 8 hours of direct sun exposure per day.

bouncyshamrocks said: And, would they do well potted outdoors, or should they be planted in landscaping?


Zinnias can do well as either potted outdoors or planted in-ground in the landscape.

I gave up on raising petunias from seed years ago, because the petunia seeds are just too small for my comfortable handling. And if you have bought some expensive "fancy" petunia seed, a single sneeze can blow your investment away. I like big easy-to-handle seeds like zinnias and nasturtiums. But that is just me. A lot of people do just fine with petunias.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias Gardens in Buckets
Region: Pennsylvania Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Jai_Ganesha
Feb 23, 2017 8:23 AM CST
Yardenman said:

And the point IS...

Given the right conditions, any plant can be houseplant. You just need to know what it needs.


Ah. I see what you're saying, but you have not observed the distinction that the rest of us seem to have: that when something requires external heating, extra lighting, supplemental feeding, specialized nutrients, and so forth it ceases to be a houseplant in the normal use of the term.

This distinction is the basis of the original question as to whether it is possible to care for a zinnia "like a houseplant." The answer to that question is "no, but..."
Keep going!
[Last edited by Jai_Ganesha - Feb 23, 2017 8:24 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1376509 (15)
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Image
Yardenman
Feb 23, 2017 10:20 AM CST
What is a "houseplant" except any plant that can live on its own somewhere, but needs special treatment and conditions indoors "where you live"?
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 23, 2017 12:30 PM CST
I'd like to step in and say that the majority of the houseplants I've owned have been generally low maintenence. Save for this young norfolk pine I got recently, which I'll have to look into feeding this next season, most of my plants I haven't had to do much for aside from periodic grooming. I mean, I'd be willing to take an active effort for any plant that comes into my care, but I don't think given the circumstance and the zinnias' needs as pointed out by Jai, that I could consider them a true houseplant.

Most designated houseplants are plants (exotic or not) that will thrive in the conditions of the home. Since zinnias need extra elements to accomodate the home conditions, especially the heating, I don't think after my initial question, that I could consider them such. Keeping them indoors is one thing, but if everything goes right, I hope to get the little guy planted outside once the weather stays warm.
Name: Francis
Ohio (Zone 6a)
Image
bouncyshamrocks
Feb 23, 2017 1:55 PM CST
If I were to have my sister clip back the flower per @Jai_Ganesha's suggestion, would that impact its ability to bloom again once I plant it outside?
Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Feb 23, 2017 2:51 PM CST
bouncyshamrocks said:If I were to have my sister clip back the flower per @Jai_Ganesha's suggestion, would that impact its ability to bloom again once I plant it outside?

Hi Amanda,

No, provided you just take the stem of the bloom and leave all the inter-nodes below intact. Some people "pinch off" that first bud, to encourage side branching. As an experiment, you could pinch off the buds of the side branches, so that each side branch puts out side branches of its own. That could make the plant very bushy.

Also, if you don't crowd a zinnia, it can develop a better plant.
Thumb of 2017-02-23/ZenMan/c5f488
Giving a zinnia plant room and also pinching a lot of its blooms could lead to a very interesting plant.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.


Name: ZenMan
rural Kansas (Zone 5b)
Kansas 5b
Annuals Keeper of Poultry Enjoys or suffers cold winters Bee Lover Dragonflies Garden Photography
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Level 2
ZenMan
Feb 23, 2017 3:05 PM CST
Yardenman said:What is a "houseplant" except any plant that can live on its own somewhere, but needs special treatment and conditions indoors "where you live"?

Hi Yardenman,

There are a lot of books on houseplants, some very large and full of pictures. Some not so much. But try to find a Houseplants book that discusses zinnias. That is going to be hard to do. I suggest that zinnias are not houseplants because they don't show up in any of the houseplants books. If zinnias were houseplants, at least some of the houseplants books would discuss them.

ZM
I tip my hat to you.

Page 1 of 2 • 1 2

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Annuals forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Hosta Kroosa Regal"