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PlantFiles: Mexican Sunflower, Bolivian Sunflower, Marigold Tree
Tithonia diversifolia

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Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tithonia (ti-THO-nee-a) (Info)
Species: diversifolia (dy-ver-sih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Category:
Perennials
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

Spacing:
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
N/A

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter
Mid Winter

Foliage:
Evergreen
Smooth-Textured

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Floridian
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By edfinney
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There are a total of 36 photos.
Click here to view them all!

Profile:

16 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive LostLizard On Jun 18, 2013, LostLizard from Tucson, AZ wrote:

We live in the higher desert areas near Tucson, Arizona at about 3200 feet. That means we often get freezing winter temperatures, although seldom into the low teens or for long periods, harsh, dry winds, and summer temperatures often greater than 105 deg F. Now in late June, year to date, we've had 1.3 inches of rainfall, and we are awaiting our summer rains for a few more inches.

After seeing the Mexican Sunflower year after year in a protected location at a Tucson nursery, we wanted to try it. somewhat hard to find in this area, we put in a scraggly, 1-foot well-rooted cutting last April. It was not in a protected area, and we give it supplemental water. It grew to about 8 feet the first year and was covered with flowers from late summer to late fall. This winter was hard and we had our bougainvilla and oleanders freeze back badly. The unprotected Mexican Sunflower also froze to the ground, but came back from the ground. We allow the stalks to remain during the winter to add protection and prune hard in the spring (we saw no growth from the remaining 1-ft stalks).

In June, it is now about 5 feet tall and just as wide and beginning to flower. It makes a wonder, carefree, disease-free island of green and yellow in our yard. For us and the insects and birds (birds love the seedheads) it supports, it is worth the investment in water.

Positive bsgardens On Nov 8, 2012, bsgardens from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

We love this plant / tree. Our last measurement of this tree was 28 foot tall. We measured the tree when a storm came through & blew it over & up rooted it. We found that it has shallow roots. The flowers have a wonder sniff to them. Bees, Butterlies (especially Skippers) & hummingbirds & hummingbird moths LOVE this plant.

I love seeing the flowers in the sky as I drive up my street.

They do die back to the ground in the winter. & can be invasive if not kept tidy. We tie ours up & make a giant topary of sorts.

*****Update 9-17-2013 - This Plant ended up growing to 32ft tall!!! The fragrance is wonder ... unfortunately the only time we can enjoy the fragrance is when it falls over since we topiary it.

Positive sunkissed On Nov 10, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I started my Mexican sunflower two seasons ago from a clipping a friend gave me. It now has some stalks that are a good twenty foot tall. It also has tripled in width this year. The past two winters it completely froze to the ground when temperatures went to 32. Mine doesn't flower until mid October and so far last until it freezes which has been in December. It is now mid November and covered with big bright yellow flowers that really stand out in the garden...even if they are up in the clouds practically.
I wish the plant wasn't so tall, I actually cut two stalks as an experiment in late July this year to see if I can bush it better and yet still get blooms. Those two stalks within one week were growing out three to four more stalks. Now in mid November those stalks are about ten foot tall. I don't see buds on them yet. There are many smaller branches that are at eye level, but none have flower buds on them. I wonder if it doesn't freeze if they'd have time to get buds...but so far haven't made it that long....maybe this winter.

Positive Arbolinda On Dec 31, 2010, Arbolinda from Hermosillo
Mexico wrote:

I am saying my comment is positive, but that is my appreciation for it's beauty. I have not planted it yet. I just returned from a three day trip to the hills in the east of Sonora, Mexico. I brought pieces of this plant back to the city of Hermosillo, where we spend the winter. My husband and I are charged with restoring an Hacienda for a church ministry here in Sonora. I am looking for trees for this place we call Hacienda los Arboles. The plants I brought back were in the vehicle for two days after I cut them, one batch in a moistened paper towel, and a long branch that I allowed to dry out somewhat. Will they still develop roots? I have put them both in water until I hear comments. Thank you, Arbolinda

Arbolinda.

Positive SheilaFla On Aug 20, 2010, SheilaFla from Orlando area, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The only negative I've found is the height, that the blooms are too high up to enjoy. I may have found a solution when one of mine broke in the spring and I put it in a big container and about six shoots came up that are now only 5 feet tall so if it still blooms, I will be able to enjoy them and even move them to the perfect viewing spot.

Positive missfancy34667 On Nov 18, 2009, missfancy34667 from Hudson, FL wrote:

Ive had mine planted for about 4-5 years now and its about 25-30 feet tall. it seems to grow about 3-5 feet every year. I dont think there is any limit to its growth. when the stalks dry they make very strong poles, my kids used to make a tee pee. I have been propagating from seed with the intent to plant this plant along my 200 feet of fence line to afford privacy. problem is nor that they are so tall, i cant manage to get cuttings anymore. too tall for a ladder, so I just sit outside and paint them ;)

Positive valb561 On Nov 1, 2009, valb561 from Okeechobee, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love these plants. I grew them in SE FL & brought cuttings when we moved to central FL. I now have 5 large stands & 4 newly started ones. The only things that seems to bother them are very dry conditions, frost & standing water from too much rain. But they've always come back after "dying off". The cut flowers make a great centerpiece & last about a week inside.

Positive Jensmunk On Oct 18, 2009, Jensmunk from Titusville, FL wrote:

I got several cuttings from a friend in the neighborhood. She told me to just put the cuttings in the ground and watch them grow. Indeed, they did grow very fast. My plant has grown to about 15 feet in two years. It went into shock when we got a frost in early 2009, and I had to remove the top section of the plant, but it recovered nicely. It does spread quickly, but you can keep it contained, by removing the side stalks. It grows very well in Titusville, Florida.

Positive mswestover On Oct 2, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have four "stands" of this plant. All started from two purchased cuttings in 2007. Then I did my own cuttings in the spring of 2008 to get more plants. Roots easily from the cuttings. Leaves droop in the heat if not given enough water, then they bounce back. The original patch is about twenty feet high Oct 2009.

Positive fullsun007 On Jul 25, 2009, fullsun007 from Gainesville, FL wrote:

I have had this plant growing in my central north Florida yard for 2 years now. They are very nice plants, as some others have noted here, choosing your planting location is important. This plant prefers full sun and with adequate water will easily reach 12-15 feet in height in one season. Each year it gets slightly bigger around and can easily become a substantial clump. In my yard it blooms from October until first frost which knocks it back, this year we had 2 nights with back to back lows of 21oF and it has bounced right back. Butterflies love the flowers, also so do squirrels, they also like to eat the stalks, maybe best to plant this in the open, not close to a fence or wall. Also the flowers are produced at the tops of the stalks. I cut some last year they smell like honey, unfortunately they are more than 10 feet up so, you don't get to smell them. Maybe pruning earlier may force branching and keep the plant shorter and the flowers at head height? Well to other zone 8 gardeners I would highly recommend this plant, it roots easily from stem cuttings. Unlike other sunflowers, the seeds do not have time to ripen before frost, so volunteers are not really an issue, at least not this far north.

Positive pforrester On Jul 15, 2008, pforrester from Fallbrook, CA wrote:

In my neighborhood I admired this giant daisy bush for several years. I finally stopped by one day and the homeowner was home. I asked what the name of the daisy bush was. She said she was told it was a Mexican sunflower. I had never seen it at a nursery but before I could say another word she said she would give me something. I thought it would be literature but she promptly cut off two long stalks and said to just cut them up and stick them in the ground and they would grow. So, I removed the leaves cut them up into 12 inch lengths (be sure to keep track of the top by cutting at an angle or straight and then cut the bottom differently) I dipped them in water and then into Rootone and buried 6 inches in potting soil in pot. I put them where they got afternoon sun to warm the potting soil for root formation. I am not kidding, within three days I thought I saw little leaves beginning to poke their way out of the nodes! Maybe I just didn't notice them, I thought. But, they were leaves!!! It has now been a week, yes just ONE WEEK and two have 1/2 in leaves and the other four are following close behind. Amazing! I live in San Diego County, California

Positive JaxFlaGardener On Dec 27, 2007, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grows well and returns dependably at the Jacksonville (Florida) Zoo & Gardens, which is situated just about on the borderline of Zone 8b/9a, so it may grow in slightly colder zones than reported above. It can be seen at the zoo as backdrop for the flamingo exhibit behind the "Range of the Jaguar" and in other locations around the zoo.

Before planting T. diversifolia, be sure you consider its annual growth spread and height. Look at the photos in the Plant Files -- if it seems taller and wider than many houses, it is! Even one plant needs a lot of room.

The only problem I've seen with this plant is that the very tall, nearly hollow, individual stems can break at the root crown without much wind or external pressure. Fortunately, even though they are huge compared to most other sunflower-type plants, the limbs don't carry much weight.

The top portion of the plant freezes back here in winter, but it can be pruned back severely (to within about 2 - 3 feet of the ground) and will regrow from the previous years stalks.

Jeremy

Positive kjc783 On Dec 7, 2006, kjc783 from Palm Harbor, FL wrote:

I just got this plant for my mother for her birthday. Even though it's our first growing experience with this plant our neighbors is a stunning beauty. He grows it as a dividing "wall" between his property and a local golf course. The flowers are beautiful, and they smell like chocolate to me! My mom has often threatened to go cut a piece for her garden, but I decided to get a whole plant for her. Though, our neighbor wouldn't have minded!

Positive onalee On Nov 12, 2006, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Super easy to grow and stunning when in bloom, this Mexican Sunflower has many names, including:
Bolivian Sunflower, Tree Marigold, Honduras Sunflower, and Japanese Sunflower.

My plants are well over 15' high this year (their second year) and although not all of them survived the winter here, most did. In my zone, these bloom mainly in the fall and early winter to first frost.

To grow in colder regions, I would suggest taking cuttings before first frost, rooting them in containers and overwintering indoors. Then set the plants out in the spring for a head start. They root easily but don't like to be too wet, better on the dry side or they will rot before taking root.

This is a great plant for screening undesirable views and they really put on a show when in bloom!

Positive bekados On Nov 6, 2006, bekados from Pensacola, FL wrote:

This plant roots easily from soft and hardwood cuttings. In our zone, it blooms in late October at a height of about 12 ft. It also overwintered in our zone last year.

Neutral zville123 On Dec 26, 2005, zville123 from Zanesville, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Has anyone tried growing this plant like an annual in cooler regions? Send me a D-mail if you have, with details on sowing dates and bloom times, etc. Thanks :~)

Neutral edfinney On Jul 2, 2005, edfinney from Sarasota, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant has a beautiful bloom and is attractive to butterflies and bees. It requires no care except removing the dead leaves from the lower part of the stalk. As the plant increases in height, the bottom leaves wither and die as with any sunflower. It blooms during November here when there aren't many other plants blooming. BUT it grows to heights of 12 or 15 feet and new stalks branch out from old stalks to make what appears to be a colony. It takes a lot of room for a small garden. So it has good qualities and bad qualities.

Positive artcons On Jun 5, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

This is a perennial sunflower plant in zone 10. It is easily grown from cuttings. They are very common in S. Florida Zone 10. My plant shown is about 8-9 feet tall. It has been in the ground since October. Before going into the ground I had it around for at least two years in containers. It is multi branched and has been trimmed several times since October. There are many in my neighborhood are growing better than 15 ft tall. It is attractive but does take up lots of space. It does require trimming to keep it relatively normal sized, otherwize it will grow out of control. It's dark green leaves and bright yellow flowers grow all year long. It is attractive to butterflies birds and bees.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Tucson, Arizona
Baywood-los Osos, California
Fallbrook, California
Richmond, California
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida (3 reports)
Citra, Florida
Crystal River, Florida
Deland, Florida
Dunedin, Florida
Eustis, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida (2 reports)
Gainesville, Florida
Hawthorne, Florida
Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)
Homestead, Florida (2 reports)
Hudson, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Kissimmee, Florida
Lake Wales, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lithia, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Mc Intosh, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Niceville, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
North Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Ocala, Florida
Okeechobee, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Osprey, Florida
Palm Harbor, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida (2 reports)
Sanford, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebring, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Tampa, Florida (3 reports)
Titusville, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Valrico, Florida
Venus, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Wauchula, Florida
Wellborn, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida (2 reports)
Yulee, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Zolfo Springs, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Lagrange, Georgia
Rincon, Georgia
Quincy, Massachusetts
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Penn Yan, New York
Charleston, South Carolina
Austin, Texas



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