Tithonia, Mexican Sunflower 'Torch'

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)
Cultivar: Torch



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Henagar, Alabama

Dewey, Arizona

Payson, Arizona

Saint David, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Malvern, Arkansas

North Little Rock, Arkansas

Long Beach, California

Menifee, California

Perris, California

San Leandro, California

Apopka, Florida

Aripeka, Florida

Gainesville, Florida(2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Mc Intosh, Florida

Miami, Florida

Oviedo, Florida

Panama City, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

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

Howell, Michigan

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

Thompsons Station, Tennessee

Bastrop, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Brazoria, Texas

Canyon, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

Grand Prairie, Texas

Port Aransas, Texas

Portland, Texas

Newport News, Virginia

Weyers Cave, Virginia

Lakewood, Washington

Marinette, Wisconsin

Sheboygan, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 23, 2016, JBtheExplorer from Southeast, WI wrote:

I originally bought a packet of seeds simply for the color of the flower, but I was even more surprised after it bloomed. Never have I seen a plant attract more Hummingbirds than this one. I've grown it for two years now and both years I have noticed a lot of hummingbird activity. I also see a lot of Bumble Bees as well as various butterflies. The packet said the plant gets 4-6 feet tall, however mine grew to be 8 feet the first year, and 7 feet the second year. I don't mind the size. I plant them in an area where they work as a natural fence. These plants will need support, though. When they get to about five feet tall, the rain weighs them down. Their branches can snap under the weight, and I even had two of them uproot. Overall, though, this is a great plant to have if you want to encou... read more


On Jan 4, 2016, CathyInMichigan from Howell, MI wrote:

I have been starting these from seed for the last 2 summers in Michigan. I start them in pellet pots in late April and plant outside (and give them to many friends!) in late May. They are slow to "take off" but as summer gets nice and hot they grow quickly. There just isn't a prettier flower for late summer and fall blooming. It's a great cut flower with a long vase life. The most amazing part is how long they bloom! A light frost doesn't faze them and, when we have a hard frost, the leaves die but I can still cut flowers to bring inside! Amazing plant that really grows tall. By October I usually have to pull it down to a height I can cut. By far, my favorite annual to grow from seed.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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?


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.


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 ... read more


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


On Jul 12, 2008, leugim from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) 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.


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?


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.


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.


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).


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?


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.