Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) Information
By Kate Torpie, Garden Guides Contributor
About Mexican Sunflower The Mexican Sunflower has a big, beautiful bloom in a caliente orange. Their centers are bushy, like a dahlia or daisy. This annual can grow about 4 to 6 feet, and it spreads about half as many feet. The flowers themselves (and there are lots of them) are about 3 inches wide, and its leaves are covered in a soft down. This plant needs a lot of room.
Site PreparationPick a spot with lots of bright sun and good drainage. You may also wish to choose a spot where they won't grow into and cover other flowers: a border around the yard, for example. The Mexican Sunflower is heat and drought resistant, but the flowers will look perkier if you water regularly. About 1 or 2 weeks before planting, till the soil and mix in a good amount of compost.
PlantingReady for the easiest plant in the world to sow? Buy seeds. After the last frost, drop them on the area that you have prepared. Kick a bit of dirt over them, but not too much since these seeds like sun. And, as desert-acclimated plants, they have shallow roots. Now you're done. By mid-June, you'll start having flowers all summer.
CareNot much to do here. As the plants grow taller, they may outgrow themselves and fall over. Their stems are hollow, making it difficult to stake them without breaking. However, you can certainly give it a shot. Alternatively, you can trim down the plants as they grow higher. Deadheading the blooms will allow the plant to support more blossoms. The plant thrives in hot, dry conditions. Water it now and then, but be very careful not to overwater. Be on the lookout for aphids. You may need to purchase a product to spray on the plant if you find that aphids have "moved into" your Mexican Sunflowers.
Choosing a VarietyAll Mexican Sunflowers bloom in shades of red-yellow, so color variation isn't a real issue when choosing a variety. Size may be, though. Goldfinger and Sundance only average about 3 feet. They're perfect for smaller gardens.
Special FeaturesThese beauties attract butterflies in droves. If you want to go for a real nature preserve feeling, plant some Butterfly Bush nearby (for the larva to feed on). Get ready for monarchs galore!