Creeping Zinnia Plant Profile

Creeping zinnia plants

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Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens) is a cheery annual plant with a spreading nature, ideal as groundcover or for planting in containers. The fine green foliage is unique in itself, but the small yellow blooms steal the show and have been compared in appearance to sunflowers, albeit a miniature version. This may come as a surprise for fans of the zinnia plant, who will find that this plant looks quite difference in appearance. However, the creeping zinnia along with other zinnia varieties are part of the Asteracae family, within the Heliantheae tribe.

Native to Mexico and parts of Guatemala, these plants are no stranger to hot, humid weather and thrive in similar climates. While this annual plant only puts on a single season show, it's abundant blooms and easy-keeping nature make it worth re-planting year after year.

Botanical Name Sanvitalia procumbens
Common Name Creeping zinnia
Plant Type Annual 
Mature Size 4 to 6 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full to part sun
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow
Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 
Native Area Central America (Mexico, Guatemala)

How to Grow Creeping Zinnia

For both novice gardeners and green thumb experts, creeping zinnia is a straightforward plant to grow. With plenty of sunshine and a sufficient supply of water, this plant will bloom abundantly both in garden beds and containers.

These are warm weather plants that won't shrivel up even in the face of high temperatures and humidity levels. They do require regular watering, but shouldn't be overwatered.

Light

To grow creeping zinnia to its maximum potential, this flowering plant enjoys direct, full sun. This produces the most abundant blooms, however, these plants can also survive when planted in partly sunny conditions. In spots that receive just 4 to 6 hours of sun, these plants will generally fare fine but won’t have the same abundance of flowers as those planted in full sun.

Soil

These plants can tolerate a range of soil types, including average to relatively fertile, humus-rich conditions. However, creeping zinnia does require that the soil be well-draining. Otherwise, the roots can become waterlogged and begin rotting.

Water

While creeping zinnia enjoys hot weather and tolerates periods of drought, don’t let this fool you into thinking that this plant won’t need regular watering. It’s important to keep the plant from becoming waterlogged, but it does prefer moist soil conditions. For this reason, you might need to water these plants once or twice daily, especially during stretches of dry weather. The soil should not become overly dry and crumbly. Instead aim for moist but well-aerated, and let the soil dry in between watering. 

Temperature and Humidity

Hot temperatures and high humidity will make creeping zinnia feel right at home. Native to Central American places like Mexico and Guatemala, these plants thrive when the temperature rises and won’t wilt in the intense climate. On the flip side, they’re only moderately tolerant of cool weather and fade once the average nightly temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Fertilizer

For a healthy, inflorescent plant, you need to provide at least moderately fertile soil conditions. The creeping zinnia doesn’t have overly specific or substantial nutrient seeds, but if the soil you plant it in is less than average, then you may need to use organic or a balanced conventional fertilizer.

In addition, creeping zinnia planted in containers or pots often benefits from a slow-release fertilizer or periodically applied liquid fertilizer to support overall growth and health of the plant. 

Propagating Creeping Zinnia

You can propagate this plant using several different methods, including by seed, cuttings, or division. Seed is likely to be the both most successful, since the plant has a reputation for failing during transplanting.

The seeds are relatively easy to collect from individual spent blooms, though the small size of the flowerheads may make it somewhat tedious work. You can also divide the plant by cutting the rootball into several separate sections, with its foliage and flowers atop each section. The individual pieces can be transplanted into new locations, though creeping zinnia does not always accept transplanting.

Additionally, you can use clippings to propagate this plant.

Toxicity of Creeping Zinnia

There are no toxic effects reported from creeping zinnia. This is true for humans, dogs, cats, horses, and other animals including birds and livestock. So you can feel free to plant it even in areas where it might attract the attention of passing animals or where children play. 

Growing in Containers

The low growing height and abundant blooms of creeping zinnia make it a great option in a container garden. These plants will fill the container, window box, or other planter with small, beautiful blooms all summer long. Keep in mind that to grow these plants successfully in containers, you'll need to ensure that they have adequate draining soil. Use a quality potting mix that is loose and light to ensure the roots don't become bogged down with too much water.

In addition, you may find it necessary to supplement the soil nutrients with fertilizer when growing creeping zinnia in containers. Small fertilizer stakes or a balanced liquid formula will generally give these plants a boost if needed, as indicated by poor inflorescence.

Starting From Seeds

To start creeping zinnia from seed isn't too complicated, but these plants don't always tolerate being transplanted. So for best results, it's easiest to start the seeds in the same location in which you plan to grow them.

If you want to use creeping zinnia in a container garden, this is easy enough. Simply plant the seeds in the pot or container in the spring, factoring in about 4 to 6 weeks for the seedlings to take root. To plant creeping zinnia in the ground, plant 1 to 2 weeks before the last expected frost. In either case, it's important to know that these seeds require light to germinate, so don't bury them under a layer of soil. Instead, lightly press them into the soil surface or loosely cover with peat moss. Water daily and keep the soil moist in order to start the growth process.