If you are interested in starting your child on a lifelong love of gardening, or, if you are a beginning gardener, start with the zinnia. Easy to grow, this plant is also attractive to butterflies, an additional delight for the young gardener. Zinnia is native to the American Southwest, Mexico and South America and will bloom in a variety of colors from late spring until the first frost.
Provide your zinnia a spot in the garden that gets sunshine all day, and plant it in rich, well-draining soil. Use compost or aged manure to amend the soil, if necessary.
Water the zinnia regularly and deeply, especially during periods of high heat. Water it until the soil is soaked. Generally one watering a week will be sufficient, twice a week when the weather is hot and dry.
Fertilize the zinnia once in July and once in September with a water-soluble balanced fertilizer. 20-20-20 is a good choice. For the organic gardener, fish emulsion will work well.
Deadheading your zinnia will encourage new growth. Usually, the dead flowers can be removed by pinching them off with your thumb and forefinger. You can also use hand pruning shears or garden scissors.