A part of the Asteraceae family, the Sanvitalia [san-vi-TAY-lee-uh] genus of flowering plants produce small daisy-like flowers.
The genus name “Sanvitalia” honors Frederico Sanvitali, a noted 18th-century Italian botanist.
There are around seven or so species of the genus native to Central and South America.
However, they are most abundantly found in Mexico.
They are grown and cultivated for their beautiful flowers resembling small sunflowers.
They are a popular genus of balcony plants, adorned with bright flowers with a bloom time throughout all of summer.
When in full bloom and its healthiest, Sanvitalia plants create a carpet of flowers so abundant they nearly obscure the foliage.
You may also hear it called by its common names including:
- Mexican Creeping Zinnia
- Miniature Sunflower
- Gold Trim Floral
- Dwarf Sunflower
Creeping Zinnia Care
Size & Growth
The miniature sunflower is a low plant spreading around 12” inches in diameter, with flowers growing on 6” inch tall stems.
They are hardy annuals and are grown very easily in sunny locations.
The plant is mat-forming with thick or strung-out leaves 1” inch in length.
They are great ground cover plants.
Flowering and Fragrance
When planted under the full sun in moist and nitrous soil, Creeping Zinnia flowers can produce some of the most adorable bright blooms.
They resemble mini sunflowers, making these little plants perfect for garden beds and pots.
The flowers resemble a small black-eyed Susan with short petals and a big brown eye are produced in early summer and stay in bloom until fall.
They come in a range of shades of orange, gold, and bright yellow flowers which are perfect for the summertime.
These daisy-like flowers grow in a carpet of a variety of small flowers having petals ¼ inch in length.
The flowers vary in size but are typically a ½ inch in diameter.
Light & Temperature
The bright flowers of the dwarf sunflower are included in the sunflower tribe for a reason.
The plant loves a lot of sunlight and warmth but will adapt to partial shade with less flowering.
The more sunlight the plant gets, the better the growth it will have.
The plant’s very heat and drought-tolerant.
Not enough sunlight can have a negative impact on the plant’s growth and even compromise its flowering.
The plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10.
The plant doesn’t like cold environments, making the optimal temperature somewhere near 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
Watering and Feeding
Sanvitalia procumbens loves moist soil.
During the summer, water them every other day and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.
Don’t overwater and drown the roots as it can cause root rot.
As for feeding the plants, use compost and apply liquid fertilizer at least once a month.
For potted Sanvitalia plants, use a liquid fertilizer or even a long term fertilizer stick.
Soil & Transplanting
Creeping Zinnia plants are not particularly picky or pretentious about the soil they grow in.
They don’t have any special requirements when it comes to soil and can find fresh, loose, good drainage, nutritious potting soil sufficient.
You have to make sure the soil is kept moist at most times.
The plant doesn’t respond well to dry soil.
When planting dwarf sunflowers, the plant enjoys a sunny location around the edges of pots or garden beds.
They should be placed at least 4″ – 6″ inches apart to provide the maximum room for growth.
Grooming and Maintenance
Sanvitalia is a hardy plant with low maintenance needs.
The plant is overall easy to care for and relatively disease and pest-free.
As for pruning and Sanvitalias don’t need to be cut.
However, take scissors to the plant and prune back the growth once the flowering passes.
Prune them if the plants look bald or have leggy growth.
How to Propagate Sanvitalia
Easily reproduce and propagate the plant with seeds.
Collect seeds by either waiting for seedheads to dry on the plant or by bagging the seedheads to capture the ripened seeds.
Sow seeds as early in the year as possible.
- Choose a sunny, moist location and plant seeds about 8” inches apart.
- In winter, start the seeds indoors in containers.
- The seeds will need a lot of light and a temperature between 68° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit to germinate (20° C – 21° C).
- Typically, it will take around 2 to 3 weeks for the seeds to germinate.
Sow flower seeds on top of a prepared planting surface and cover lightly with peat moss for best results.
Or propagate by dividing the root ball or with leave or herbaceous stem cuttings.
Some people prefer to start creeping zinnia seeds in hanging baskets indoors, 4 – 6 weeks before spring, and get a jump-start on the season.
Others prefer planting directly in the garden or pots, 1 – 2 weeks before the average last frost date.
Since it typically doesn’t transplant well you’ll have to make a judgment call.
Sanvitalia Pest or Disease Problems
The Sanvitalia genus has extremely robust and hardy plants.
They remain healthy in optimal growing conditions.
Diseases are not common in Sanvitalia plants.
Pests such as snails usually stay away from the plant as well.
However, if the plant is exposed to too much moisture, it can cause root damage or Botrytis infestation.
This is a kind of fungal infection and is also known as noble rot.
If your plant does get infected, prune, and remove the affected area.
Make sure to use sterilized shears or pruning equipment and clean them off after each cut to avoid spreading.
It is deer resistant.
Suggested Used For Creeping Sanvitalia
Sanvitalia or the Mexican Creeping Zinnia is known for its showy daisy-like flowers.
The joyful annual is quite robust and easy to grow and care for.
This is why it is often seen as brightening rock garden beds, balconies, hanging baskets, and window boxes.
Besides their ornamental value, the miniature sunflower works well as a companion plant or ground cover.
Use them for edging your flower bed.
Zinnia flowers don’t perform well as cut flowers.
The plant has procumbens which don’t push themselves into the foreground.
This way, they don’t disturb other plants placed by them, especially in bots and window boxes.