Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mexican Sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch'

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tithonia (ti-THO-nee-a) (Info)
Species: rotundifolia (ro-tun-dih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Torch

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

41 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer
Flowers are good for cutting

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:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 42 photos.
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20 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Clary On Aug 29, 2014, Clary from Lewisburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Excellent color, interesting leaves, well-branched with many flowers, very attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. I planted these in place of a dead butterfly bush (which are overplanted and prone to mildew in my area) and they have grown to about 9 feet tall. There are usually 3-6 butterflies on the plants and they stay all day, usually monarchs, but I saw a giant swallowtail for the first time on this plant as well. I've had butterfly bushes for years and have never seen this much activity; the only butterfly bush remaining in my garden is pretty much ignored in favor of the tithonia. I will definitely replant these.

Positive pjablon On Oct 4, 2013, pjablon from Greenfield, MA wrote:

THis is the first year that I grew this plant here in Western Massachusetts. I bought some seedlings from a local farmer. I planted them in late May or early June and beginning in September i had plants that were really tall. I measured them with a tape measure and they were all between 6 and 8 1/2 feet tall. The smallest plant has about 10 flowers blooming at a time and the largest about 15 at a time, with a total of about 30 so far. It is now October and the plants are going strong. Every flower has at least one bumble bee on it within thirty seconds and many wil have two bees at a time. It is a cloudy chilly day and I am looking out my kitchen window and see ten bees just resting on the flowers for up to 5 minutes at a time. What an incredible fall plant for both us and the bees.

Positive lycodad On Aug 18, 2013, lycodad from Hornell, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

Since we live in a short season area, I used Jiffy plant pellets to start the seeds in late March about the same time as my tomatoes, transplanting around June 1st. Now the 6' plants are in full bloom in mid-August. Beautiful bright orange flowers attract loads of bumble bees and hummingbirds, but the hollow stems are a bit flimsy for cut flower use. If you do cut the stems, be careful not to break them. This is definitely a "look here" plant that attracts startling attention in the garden, worth a try almost anywhere. An easy seed saver, and may reseed in some areas.

Neutral suzanadana On Aug 13, 2011, suzanadana from Frankfort, KY wrote:

I may have planted these seeds a little late, about mid June, but so far there have only been two blooms on about 5 or 6 plants. They are beautiful but wish there were more. Also, there are some caterpillars eating holes in the leaves. Most of them still look fine, but some are showing some damage- wilting, yellowing and browning. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Neutral Gardenblue2 On Jun 6, 2011, Gardenblue2 from Overland Park, KS (Zone 6a) wrote:

What are some tips on growing this plant without it turning brown and dying? I buy this each year at out botanical gardens plant sale.

Two years ago it grew great, I loved the orange flowers in my butterfly garden, and no problems.

Last year about August, it just died one day.

This year my plants are looking mangy. Not sure what to do to keep them from dying.

Any ideas?

Positive the1pony On Sep 4, 2010, the1pony from (Pony) Lakewood, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I wasn't sure these would even bloom for me, since I got them planted out pretty late, but lo and behold, buds began to form. The first one popped a couple of days ago, and let me tell you, this is the brightest orange I have ever seen. I mean retina-searing, see it from down the street orange. I'm in love. :D If you're a freak for the hot colors like I am, you really need to grow this plant.

Positive dianne99 On Jun 30, 2010, dianne99 from Brookville, KS (Zone 5b) wrote:

I've grown "torch" from seed 2 years now, and they self-sowed everywhere but the driest site of 3 in full sun. They are worth watering, but I would not call them drought tolerant--I would call them more of a drought meter! They wilt first at over 85 until the sun goes down unless they get approx. 3/4" of water every 3-4 days in well mulched beds, even. They get as tall as the soil is good. If they are not blooming by the 1st week in Aug. (Z5b), I would look into whether my soil has too much nitrogen, esp. if they're tall and very green but unblooming. Also low phosphorus. They should be 4-5' apart in good soil. Take warm water out to dunk them in immediately, rinse and cut stems and change water daily, and they will last over a week in vases. If you don't like orange, grow some of these with purple basil or something blue, and I bet you'll like these! I have many deer, rabbits, moles and squirrels and they have never touched it--but they all have different tastes.

Positive PermaCultura On Feb 28, 2010, PermaCultura from Chappell, NE wrote:

I'm in SW Nebraska panhandle on the CO border, zone 4 &5. Planted Botanical Interest Torch Mexican sunflowers from seed last year crowded into rather shallow metal containers in full sun and wild NE wind, slightly sheltered overhead by a pergola. Mostly ignored them except for daily watering and deadheading. They grew nearly 6 feet tall, bloomed and bloomed and attracted swarms of bumblebees and monarch butterflies. Want them everywhere in the garden this year. Anyone recommend any seed source just as successful as Botanical Interest?

Positive ummsaalih On Nov 19, 2009, ummsaalih from Columbus, GA wrote:

this flower grows very well here, columbus, ga. i just harvest some of the seeds and plan to grow some more in the spring! its november and i still have a beautiful display of color. the seeds are very easy to harvest.

Positive DMgardener On Sep 27, 2009, DMgardener from (Daniel) Mount Orab, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is by far one of the most unusual annuals in my garden.
It started out as somewhat wilty and wimpy. Then we started watering it. It took off! The flowers are 2"-5" wide and are the most electrifying shade of orange. The blue leaves cool the shocking shades. The leaves are just like velvet! And so are the stems. But, BE CAREFUL! The stems are very easily broken and damaged.
The flowers just keep coming! The Ipomoea tricolor 'Blue Star' I planted 4' away then started growing, but I have not seen the Tithonia in a while! Hope it is OK.

Positive bsgardens On Jul 29, 2009, bsgardens from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I can't help but LOVE this plant. The velvety leaves and stems the beautiful flowers and THE BUTTERFLIES AND HUMMINGBIRDS .... OH MY !!!! :D I have never seen sooo many hummingbirds & butterflies in my garden ever!! They seem to flock to this plants flowers. It's WELL worth having. These got 6' 4" Tall!! And it still seems to be growing :D

Positive cmsjjdr On Jun 7, 2009, cmsjjdr from Panama City, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I planted this for the first time last summer. The plants took over a 3X3 grow bed and grew to over 5 feet tall. They bloomed from June until the first hard freeze in October. They also self sowed for this year. I just cut my first flowers today. They are great for cutting and will last about a week in a vase. When they come up in the yard all I have to do is mow over them one time and they don't come back so they are not a problem in that area either.

Negative leugim On Jul 12, 2008, leugim from Oviedo, FL wrote:

Orlando. 6' tall. Ample, strong.
Full sun. Unfertilized. Good drainage.

I planted it for flowers for butterfly food.
Four pitiful flowers a few weeks ago, didn't last long.

Positive clawton On Sep 17, 2007, clawton from Gainesville, FL wrote:

Mine have grown to about 8 feet tall, but no flowers! They've been growing all summer. What do I need to do to get flowers?

Positive Jamie_Anderson On Aug 25, 2007, Jamie_Anderson from Wellington
New Zealand wrote:

This plant has super colour, super flowers, super habit, and super butterfly and bee attraction. It is one of my favourite plants.

I have grown this plant successfully as a summer annual in Auckland, New Zealand. I'm expecting that I will also grow it successfully in Wellington, New Zealand this summer.

Positive Zeppy On Jul 12, 2007, Zeppy from Shenandoah Valley, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This brought the first monarch butterfly I've seen in my yard. It's lovely, vibrant, pest resistant... I'm growing tons more next year.

Positive sallyg On Jul 2, 2007, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD (Zone 7b) wrote:

Grew these from seed indoors, for the first time. Easy to grow. They are fast growers. I like the intense orange color. I have a few in a groundhog-prone area and so far have NOT had any eaten (knock on wood).

Positive matt1988 On Aug 31, 2006, matt1988 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted this for the first time this year from a free seed packet. They are close to 6 feet tall. (I watered them almost daily before I read that they had some drought tolerance) I planted it in a fecned off garden to keep it portected from the wildlife (groundhags and rabbits especially). Next year I want to plant it outside the fence with some of my other butterfly plants. Has anyone had experience as to whether it will get eaten?

Positive siobhan7 On Aug 27, 2006, siobhan7 from Gainesville, FL wrote:

This is my favorite plant, the butterflies' favorite, and the hummingbirds' favorite as well. It does get a little leggy, and the dead leaves have to be pruned regularly. I have it planted with the red salvia Faye Chapel and it looks great. I will try to never be without it!

Positive billyporter On Mar 27, 2006, billyporter from Nichols, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I absolutely love Tithonia even tho it's an annual for me. The bright orange color never disappoints.

Positive Fleurs On Nov 8, 2005, Fleurs from Columbia, SC wrote:

Mexican Sunflower has reseeded for the past three years in my Zone 8 garden, although this has been the first year the deer have devoured the young plants. Butterflies and hummingbirds feast on the orange flowers, adding to the charm of this back-of-the-border plant.

I've enjoyed Mexican Sunflower in a combination with the burgundy leaves of castor bean plant with a skirt of a 2' orange lantana and edged with Melampodium.

Positive Windy On Oct 12, 2005, Windy from Belleville , IL (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have passiflora incarnata plants which are host to the fritillary butterfly larvae. I had numerous cats who hatched out to enjoy this plant sometimes with two or more on one flowers. The bubblebees seem to like it since it is a substantial landing pad for them.

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

Mexican Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch' is one of the very best butterfly attractors that I have found. It has a BEAUTIFUL flower and grows very well in central/south Florida growing conditions. It attracts myriads of bees and butterflies of every kind. I grew it last year for the first time and will never be without it from now on.


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

Henagar, Alabama
Payson, Arizona
Saint David, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Malvern, Arkansas
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Menifee, California
Perris, California
San Leandro, California
Apopka, Florida
Aripeka, Florida
Gainesville, Florida (2 reports)
Jacksonville, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Mc Intosh, Florida
Oviedo, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Columbus, Georgia
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Champaign, Illinois
Chillicothe, Illinois
Des Plaines, Illinois
Fishers, Indiana
Poland, Indiana
Davenport, Iowa
Nichols, Iowa
Brookville, Kansas
Derby, Kansas
Berea, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Millersville, Maryland
Greenfield, Massachusetts
Florence, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
Chappell, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
Norfolk, Nebraska
Hornell, New York
Charlotte, North Carolina
Efland, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Akron, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Dover, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Ridley Park, Pennsylvania
Springboro, Pennsylvania
Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania
Columbia, South Carolina
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Crossville, Tennessee
Boerne, Texas
Brazoria, Texas
Canyon, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Grand Prairie, Texas
Port Aransas, Texas
Portland, Texas
Newport News, Virginia
Weyers Cave, Virginia
Lakewood, Washington
Marinette, Wisconsin
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

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