Here we are at the end of the alphabet! Many of the zesty flowers that start with Z come from tropical areas, yet nearly all of them can find a home in your garden with the proper care. Let’s dive in and finish off our colorful exploration of alphabetical flowering plants with zeal.
Annual Flowers that Start with Z
1. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
Bright, colorful zinnias look beautiful bordering a vegetable garden, along the back of a flower bed, and in fresh bouquets. They come in a variety of vibrant colors and range from 12-inch low-growing varieties to tall, several-foot-high plants, making them a great choice for any sunny garden. Plus, zinnias attract butterflies and other pollinators with their large, cheerful blooms.
A grassland native, zinnias tolerate both drought and poor soil. However, they do prefer full sun and grow best in organically rich soil with good drainage.
Perennial Flowers that Start with Z
2. Zantedeschia (Zantedeschia sp.)
More commonly known as calla lily or arum lily, zantedeschia produces elegant, chalice-shaped flowers each with a tall, yellow spadix in the center. Although typically white, the blossoms can also be found in shades of pink, yellow, and purple, sometimes with a contrasting throat.
This tropical South African native is winter hardy in zones 8-10, with some species surviving down to zone 7. In cooler regions, dig up the bulbs before frost and store them inside until spring. Zantedeschia prefers full to part sun and consistently moist, rich, soil. It grows well near water features and in bog and marsh gardens.
3. Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)
The zebra plant gets its name from the white veins on its glossy, dark-green leaves. Although most often grown as a houseplant, this Brazil native can be planted in a sheltered location outdoors in zones 11 and 12. In all other areas, a potted zebra plant can be set outside during the summer and brought inside before temperatures dip below 55 F. Under ideal conditions, a zebra plant will produce stunning yellow flowers.
This finicky tropical plant grows best in bright, indirect light and rich, well-draining soil with consistent moisture during the growing season. Zebra plant also requires humidity levels of 60 to 70 percent.
4. Zenobia (Zenobia pulverulenta)
Also called dusty zenobia or honey-cups, zenobia is a deciduous to evergreen shrub native to the southeastern U.S. Small, white, bell-shaped flowers decorate the showy blue-green foliage in late spring to early summer and give off a pleasant fragrance. This slow-growing shrub eventually reaches three to ten feet tall and spreads about as wide. In fall, the leaves become a lovely reddish-purple.
Zenobia thrives in zones 6-9, sometimes acting semi-evergreen south of zone 7. It grows best in part shade and moist to boggy, acidic, sandy, or peaty soil.
5. Zephyranthes (Zephyranthes sp.)
Zephyranthes is a member of the amaryllis family native to southern North America and Central and South America. It gets its common name, rain lily, from its tendency to bloom directly after significant rain. Available in shades of bright pink, yellow, or white, the starry, six-petaled blossoms range from just one to three inches. This small but showy plant does well along walkways and in borders, rock gardens, and small spaces.
Zephyranthes prefers full sun to part shade and rich, moist, sandy, or loamy soil with good drainage.
6. Zygopetalum (Zygopetalum sp.)
A fragrant tropical orchid, zygopetalum features beautiful, waxy blossoms, typically with green and brown stripes or speckles and a broad, velvety lip in shades of indigo to fuchsia. The long, glossy, strap-like foliage reaches about two feet tall. When grown indoors, the sweet fragrance of the flowers can fill a room.
Zygopetalum can be grown outdoors where temperatures stay between 50 and 85 F. It requires bright, indirect light, consistent moisture, and 40 to 60 percent humidity. Soil preferences vary by species, but many do well in a mixture of bark, perlite, and sphagnum moss.
7. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
A popular houseplant, ZZ plant can be grown outdoors year-round in zones 9 and warmer. In cooler regions, it can be set outside in summer and brought inside when temperatures drop below 40 F. This African native is valued for its glossy foliage but sometimes produces insignificant yet unique flowers in summer, especially when grown outdoors. The small blossoms resemble those of peace lilies, featuring a pale spadix surrounded by a greenish spathe.
ZZ plants are remarkably easy to grow, tolerating low light and neglect. For best results, though, they should be planted in fast-draining soil and placed in moderate to bright indirect light.
Through this exploration of flowers from A to Z, I hope you have discovered at least a few new plants to inspire your gardening. But if you missed some of the previous letters, you can still check out all of our alphabetical posts for more floral inspiration! You can also get this book for even more ideas and inspiration.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.