I planted zinnas in the ground. They have come up but need to be thinned. I transplanted about six plants but they immediately wilted. Is this normal or a bad thing? How should I thin and transplant to ensure success?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Sondra: Growing from seed can be very rewarding but also frustrating when things do not work out as planned. Ideally, we do not want to see any wilting when we thin and transplant our seedlings. The best time to thin is shortly after they have germinated and before they become tall or leggy. Zinnias in particular are known for being difficult to transplant. For this reason you were smart to directly sow them outdoors after the frost-free date. In the future when you plant seeds outdoors, give them enough space so that you do not have to thin them. The spacing will depend on the variety that you are growing, so refer to the seed packet. For now choose the smallest seedlings and gently remove them from the soil, being careful not to damage the roots. Immediately re-plant them and water them in. They should be planted at the same depth that they are currently. A thin layer of mulch will help protect the roots and help the soil retain moisture. If they have become leggy you can pinch them back to the first true leaves so there is less foliage to support and the energy can be concentrated on root development. As with all seedlings it is likely that a few will not survive, so do not be too hard on yourself and enjoy your blooms!