Tithonia sp. (Mexican sunflower)


Tithonia flowers 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: Bees, various butterflies and 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. The seedlings are susceptible to damping off so you need absolutely sterile conditions for germination. Otherwise, just throw the seeds into a bed outside when the risk of frost has passed 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. With its resistance to drought, Tithonia can be used as a thrill plant in containers surrounded by Zinnia, which is another plant from Mexico.

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 is a great platform plant for large butterflies, which are regular visitors during the summer.

Tithonia flowers
Tithonia fully grown
Tithonia with monarch
Tithonia with monarch butterfly
Tithonia with goldfinch
Tithonia seeds are eaten by goldfinches.
Tithonia with skipper
Tithonia with a sachem skipper