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Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

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Tithonia sp (Mexican sunflower)
Tithonia with leaves

Zone: 8 to 10

Soil: Sand to loam

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Orange to red

Bloom period: August - October

Height: 48 to 60 inches

Moisture: Dry to medium

Attracts: Low numbers of bees, some Monarch butterflies and lots of goldfinches

Notes: Mexican Sunflower or Torch flower is indigenous to Central America. In Canada, it is grown as an annual and it can reach 5 feet in height in a single season. This is an excellent plant to fill in spots between taller perennials. While the leaves are coarse and a bit ugly, the large red or orange flowers are stunning. The plant flowers continuously for a long time and it does not take too many plants to occupy a whole bed.

Each plant should be 18 inches apart. For a longer flowering season, the seeds may be sewn indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Otherwise, just throw the seeds into a bed and cover lightly with a layer of soil. The plant may need support in windy areas and some watering when the leaves start to droop during the dry spells. In terms of wildlife, the best thing about this plant is the flocks of goldfinches and pine siskins that visit in the fall. Since the plant is quite tall, you can plant Tithonia next to a window. It is a good way to get a close up view of the birds.

Tithonia sp.
tithonia with monarch
Tithonia with Monarch butterfly
Tithonia with Sweat Bee
Tithonia with sweat bee
Tithonia with goldfinch
Tithonia with Goldfinch