Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mexican Sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia

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

Synonym:Tagetes rotundifolia
Synonym:Tithonia speciosa

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

55 members have or want this plant for trade.

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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


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 53 photos.
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31 positives
6 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Opus27no2 On Dec 20, 2014, Opus27no2 from Slaughter, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

One plant, from a volunteer seeding, popped up after 2 or 3 seasons since the last we had. That seed was one heck of a survivor! It grew amongst other sunflowers, got about 4 feet tall and was blown over in a storm. It continued growing supine turning vertical at any opportunity. By the time it finally died in a 3-day 28* freeze it had grown into a spectacular 6'x8' mound of gorgeous orange flowers. Like I said: SURVIVOR!

Oh, and by the by, butterflies LOVE them. I counted 8 different species during one visit, including 6 Monarchs on their way to Mexico!

Positive LanfrancoLeo On Oct 6, 2014, LanfrancoLeo from Harrisburg, PA wrote:

I am obsessed to find the best bee/butterfly plant form my little garden, every year I give a trial to some new promising species.This year was the time for Mexican sunflower (Tithonia Rotundifolia) and I am really glad I did it!!! I plant the seed with a wet paper technique on late April-early may. It grew rapidly to 5-6 feet on full light position, watered moderately. The first bloom appeared around the first week of August, but few weeks later (around the middle of august) it was really covered by beautiful orange red flowers!! Now is beginning of October and is still filled with several dozen of flowers (from just 3 plants!!)
If you are a pollinator gardened do not miss the opportunity to plant Mexican sunflower,since it give a good pollen and nectar sources during the very critical period of late summer to early mid-fall. I was very concerned this year of how I could provide enough food to pollinator because great part of my shrub and perennial are already bloomed....Tithonia was really the solution for me!! I will definitively plant next year (no longer worries about late season blooming plants), I will definitively suggest to anybody especially who want to see beautiful butterfly , hummingbird and busy bee around !!!

Positive mloldy On Sep 29, 2014, mloldy from CHICAGO PARK, CA wrote:

I grow these in abundance, 6 to 7 feet tall is the average.,
I live in the sierra foothills of Northern Calif, and garden on one full acre.
The butterflies, hummingbirds and bees abound, and I have them in the house as cut flowers all summer long,
grow them and enjoy!

Positive gjrhine On Sep 3, 2012, gjrhine from Pawleys Island, SC wrote:

Just string up a row of these about three feet high on both sides and they will crazy bloom all summer!

Neutral Mima56 On Sep 24, 2011, Mima56 from Thayer, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Planted tithonia for the first time in a newly constructed butterfly garden. I must have added too much nitrogen (cottonseed meal), because all the plants did was GROW! They finally had a very flowers on the very top, but on 7-8 foot plants, they sure were hard to see! Finally, wind and rain toppled them. I will definitely plant these again but will put them in an older bed without as much fertilizer. I am curious if these should be pinched back early in the season.

Neutral Windy On Sep 4, 2011, Windy from Belleville , IL (Zone 6b) wrote:

The seeds need light to germinate.

Positive CeVe On May 16, 2011, CeVe from Honolulu, HI wrote:

I grew a row of Yellow Mammoth Sunflowers at 7'-8' in the backrow, Orange Mexican Daisies at 3'-4' in the middle row, a row of Blue Daze just in front of the Daisies, at about 12"-18", and cascading in front of the Blue Daze was Dark Green Creeping Rosemary with its little blue flowers spilling over the natural rock wall. It looked beautiful and decorated the view right outside my daughters bedroom window with color and lots of butterflies...ahhh....memories....

Positive maggie888 On Aug 2, 2010, maggie888 from Emmaus, PA wrote:

Had great success last year. This year as of 8/2 plants are 6ft tall, but no blooms. Is it possible that the soil amended it's self since last year, and is now "too good" ?

Positive ikrivack On Jul 30, 2010, ikrivack from Hillsborough, NC wrote:

I have loved and grown this plant for years in NC (durham area), yes it droops in the heat of the midday, but I never water it and it thrives, and blooms like crazy. I love all the butterflies and humming birds it attracts. For the first time ever, it is not blooming, even though it is healthy and almost 6 ft tall, and I have been so dissappointed. I had to write, when the first search on line about this non blooming year, brought me to someone else in NC who has the same problem, and my son happens to be named Ivan.

Positive ivansmom On Jul 24, 2010, ivansmom from Franklin, NC wrote:

I planted these seeds in late spring. They are now almost seven feet tall and I still see no buds. They are healthy and in full sun. Their leaves do not have a fuzzy texture but like the ones in the pictures. Are these just extra tall? Thanks.

Positive gary1173 On Jun 6, 2010, gary1173 from Sugar Land, TX wrote:

I purchased one of these as a seedling from a plant sale at the Houston Museum of Natural Science's butterfly exhibit. I was told it was a sunflower which would attract butterflies to my garden. It does attract butterflies, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it isn't at all like the sunflowers I was expecting. The plant is now about 5 feet tall, with dozens of 3 inch diameter, bright orange, zinnia-like blooms. The color really brightens up my garden. I love this flower.

Positive willow_glad On Nov 30, 2009, willow_glad from Gladbrook, IA wrote:

This plant was a hardy delight. I started it indoors and neglected it until the last minute before transplanting it outdoors. It developed into a lovely bush. I saved the seeds (a picky project) and am looking forward to many plants next year.

Positive leiannec On Nov 7, 2009, leiannec from Oakland, CA wrote:

I live across from two parks that are filled with hungry deer so finding a care free plant that is covered with bright flowers all summer long is a real blessing! I will definitely get more for next year-- this grows in full sun, moderate water, four feet tall and wide, and was covered in bright orange flowers all summer and fall.

Positive dianne99 On Aug 22, 2009, 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 (8' or more) and bloom until frost. 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. Mine have nice buds today June 30. 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 mjsponies On Jul 16, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

this is probably the most popular flower in our Butterfly garden.
Gotta keep it dead headed...or it can get scraggly looking. Drought tolerant, Sun tolerant and humidity tolerant. It's a keeper for us.

Neutral sukai On Jun 15, 2009, sukai from San Antonio Guadalupe
Mexico wrote:

I wonder if anyone knows exactly where it is from in Mexico? (Tithonia rotundiflora, that is). We are living about an hour south of Toluca and I see something in the hillsides here that sure looks like Tith rotu, but it comes in a much wider variety of colors. So far the seeds collected last year in about Oct. don't seem viable, but my "Torch" seeds grow well, although don't seem to like clay soils very much.

Positive CurtisJones On Nov 25, 2008, CurtisJones from Longmont, CO wrote:

From your friends at Botanical Interests: Annual. Blooms late summer to first fall frost. 3'- 5' tall. Full sun. Unabashedly brilliant orange 3" wide daisy-like flowers on long stems. The 'Torch' flowers are as hot & fiery as the August sunshine! A genuine heat-lover, this Mexican Sunflower sets the dog days of summer ablaze with its sizzling orange daisies. A large outstanding plant for the back of the border. Plant a row of Mexican Sunflowers for a quick temporary privacy screen while waiting for a new landscape to fill in. Attracts butterflies, especially the elegant Swallow Tails. Also tolerates infertile soil, drought, and neglect. For best results, remove spent flowers and stake if necessary. Looks lovely when paired with a purple grass for contrast. Easy to grow from seed - a good choice for new gardeners and children.

Positive BennysPlace On Jul 26, 2008, BennysPlace from Beverly Hills, CA wrote:

I live in Tucson Arizona and this plant started growing as a volunteer. The soil where it started was the hard nasty clay with no amendments. This area does stay wet because I have a cassia in the same area that gets watered daily. As long as it received plenty of water, it grew quickly and provided several blooms.

I will be planting a lot of these in the spring.

Positive SandyRN On Feb 11, 2007, SandyRN from Blackwood, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

In summer 2005, I planted it in partial shade and was not impressed. In 2006, I gave it another shot in full sun and average soil. All I can say is WOW! It's a butterfly magnet at over 6 ft tall and covered with spectacular deep orange blooms. I deadheaded spent blooms to ensure more, but I don't know what would have happened if I didn't. People walking by always stopped to look. Thrived in the hot, dry conditions. I never once watered it. Large enough to be a temporary hedge or barrier. Very fast growing

Positive BDale60 On Aug 17, 2006, BDale60 from Warren, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Such a nice addition to the garden. My wife took one of these to the local county fair and won first prize in the sunflower class. I agree they make nice cut flowers in general although occasionally a few of them wilt and flop over in the vase (perhaps cut too late in their bloom?). We'll grow these again.

Positive Anitabryk2 On Jul 19, 2006, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant wintersowed nicely. It works well as a middle to back of the border specimen.

Positive Ed_in_Oregon On Jun 13, 2006, Ed_in_Oregon from Hillsboro, OR wrote:

Mine grow great in Oregon. I started some in my cold frame years ago from seeds. I've replanted them each year ever since with seeds that I collect during the fall. Bumble bees love them. Cut the dead heads back and they will bloom prolifically from June until to the first frost. As with all plants if you keep them healthy with good soil, the right amount of fertilzer and water they resist pests and disease quite. I sometimes have to zap the aphids with a little soap or malathian when I first put them out in May, but that's it for the rest of the year.

Positive billyporter On Mar 16, 2006, billyporter from Nichols, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Although it's an annual, it has a bright, eye catching orange bloom that attracts the butterflies and my eye . I love it. It's easy to grow from seed.

Positive mercedinus On Sep 27, 2005, mercedinus from Saint Cloud, MN (Zone 3b) wrote:

I grew this in northern Minnesota this summer. The Monarchs and Bumble Bees loved it! It reached a height of 4 to 5 feet. Was planted where it got a good half days sunlight. A definate for next year!

Positive Stitch626 On Jul 16, 2004, Stitch626 from Champaign, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Seeds have overwintered on southwest side of house. Plant has been known to reach over 6 feet, despite my attempts to rein it in. At this height, it has also been observed to completely uproot itself after a heavy rain. I will have to try harder to keep it more balanced.

Hummers love it. It also is enjoyed by bees and butterflies.

Neutral Monocromatico On Nov 20, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I recently found a plant that probably escaped from someone´s garden and was thriving in the shady forest.

Positive suncatcheracres On Nov 20, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I recently saw this plant for the first time growing in a large patch in morning sun in Gainesville, Florida. The deep orange flowers were spectacular, on five to six foot tall plants, and some had gone to seed, so next year I will have some growing too!

In reading up on this plant I found it is really a "perennial grown as an annual," that will self sow, and that there are several smaller cultivars than the six foot tall species, for smaller gardens. Southern Living Garden Book lists 'Torch' as a bushy four footer, and 'Goldfinger' and 'Sundance' as three footers. This book says they all have hollow stems and should be cut with care for bouquets in order to avoid bending the stalks.

I have many buterflies already in my garden, but no Monarchs, which I have read only locally migrate up and down the Florida peninsula with the changing seasons, so I think I have a good chance of attracting them into my garden. I already have at least a half dozen milkweeds (Asclepias) growing, as a larval plant for Monarchs, so I really hope that with the addition of Tithonia I can finally attract these beautiful butterflies into my garden.

Positive mrsmitty On Nov 19, 2003, mrsmitty from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

My neighbor across the street introduced me to this plant. She just 'ripped' 4 small ones out of the ground and I planted them. They all did wonderful and didn't die from shock. They reseed on their own, I collect seeds when the flower heads turn downward and appear dried out.

Positive onalee On Oct 29, 2003, onalee from Brooksville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love these because they attract so many butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden!! I plant them with my Butterfly Weed to create butterfly nirvana! Nector for the butterflies and milkweed for the caterpillars . .. They LOVE IT! I've had more Monarch's here this year than I've ever seen before! My neighbor has the same Butterfly weed that I have but no caterpillars - because they don't have the Mexican sunflower there to attract the adults to the area to begin with.

Perfect plant for full sun, average soil. Little care required - lots of blooms.

When planting - make sure you don't cover the seeds, they need light to germinate. Just sprinkle on the ground, water and wait . ..

Positive mo5bys On Aug 29, 2003, mo5bys from Saint Louis, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is my second year growing. We have had a lot of hummingbirds and butterflies, and my kids love to pick the flowers for their grandma. My friend gave me seeds while visiting in Plano, Texas (U.S.)

Positive eloopj On Aug 28, 2003, eloopj from Atlanta, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This is my first time growing this plant. Mine is in full sun till about 2pm. It's 5' tall with several buds ready to open. My friend Yvana gave me this plant from seeds her Aunt brought her back from a trip to Paris, France

Positive berrygirl On Aug 25, 2003, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This was my first year growing this plant, and several of my plants are at least 8 feet tall (these are in partial shade.) The plants in full sun are smaller.

This plant is a butterfly and hummingbird magnet! Will definitely grow this one again because it self-sows.

Positive Kaufmann On Aug 14, 2003, Kaufmann from GOD's Green Earth
United States (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is my first year also for tithonia. Its over eight feet tall, and blooming like crazy! The butterflies love it.

Positive airren On Aug 1, 2003, airren from Alabaster, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

2003 was the first year I planted the mexican sunflower. I notice in this forum that the max height is 6ft - but mine is over 12 feet tall now and higher than the roof. A wonderful habitat for butterflies and a great bee attractor.

Positive ralphsowell On May 23, 2002, ralphsowell wrote:

Mine are bright orange. Not blooming yet, but last year the plant had 30-50 blooms at a time, with a dozen butterflies at one time. It needs essentially no care, withstanding even high heat and humidity. I have numerous butterfly bushes, and this one takes the prize for attracting butterflies, although I've never seen a hummingbird on them.

Neutral Crimson On Oct 27, 2001, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

The three-inch flowers make excellent cut flowers. Withstands heat, and flowers mid-Summer to frost.

Neutral alison On Feb 4, 2001, alison from Nichols, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Large impressive plant, can reach 6' tall. Has 3" red-orange flowers that are dahlia-like. Great for attracting both hummingbirds and butterflies!!


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

Auburn, Alabama
Toney, Alabama
Vincent, Alabama
Tucson, Arizona
Batesville, Arkansas
Chicago Park, California
Elk Grove, California
Long Beach, California
Oakland, California
Richmond, California
Sacramento, California
San Clemente, California
San Francisco, California
Longmont, Colorado
Camden Wyoming, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Bartow, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Deland, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Live Oak, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Miami, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Venus, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Springs, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia (2 reports)
Augusta, Georgia
Braselton, Georgia
Cornelia, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Lagrange, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Makawao, Hawaii
Belleville, Illinois
Champaign, Illinois
Anderson, Indiana
Tipton, Indiana
Gladbrook, Iowa
Nichols, Iowa
Brookville, Kansas
Centralia, Kansas
Derby, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Slaughter, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Fort Kent, Maine
Columbia, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Salisbury, Maryland
Quincy, Massachusetts
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
Constantine, Michigan
Fairmont, Minnesota
Nevis, Minnesota
Conway, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Thayer, Missouri
Helena, Montana
Blair, Nebraska
Washington, New Hampshire
Blackwood, New Jersey
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Fairacres, New Mexico
Crown Point, New York
Port Jefferson, New York
Ronkonkoma, New York
Southold, New York
Candler, North Carolina
Efland, North Carolina
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Versailles, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Talihina, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Emmaus, Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Warren, Pennsylvania
Washington, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Charleston, South Carolina
Loris, South Carolina
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Simpsonville, South Carolina (2 reports)
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Brazoria, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Kurten, Texas
Mesquite, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Basye, Virginia
Castlewood, Virginia
King George, Virginia
Mc Lean, Virginia
Sterling, Virginia
Timberville, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
North Bend, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Marinette, Wisconsin
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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