Tithonia Species, Mexican Sunflower, Goldflower of the Incas, Mexican Marigold

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 aristata
Synonym:Tithonia speciosa
Synonym:Tithonia uniflora
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun




This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

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

Bloom Size:



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:

Auburn, Alabama

Toney, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

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

Salina, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

Slaughter, Louisiana

Zachary, Louisiana

Fort Kent, Maine

Columbia, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Salisbury, Maryland

Quincy, Massachusetts

Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts

Howell, Michigan

Fairmont, Minnesota

Nevis, Minnesota

Columbia, Mississippi

Madison, Mississippi

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(3 reports)

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(3 reports)

Bastrop, Texas

Brazoria, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas(4 reports)

Kurten, Texas

Mesquite, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 27, 2016, JBtheExplorer from Southeast, WI wrote:

I've grown Mexican Sunflower the past two years and it's been a great addition. I've never seen a plant attract more Ruby-throated hummingbirds than this one. It also attracts many kinds of butterflies and bees. The bright red-orange flowers are very cool. While the seed packet I originally bought said it would get 4'-6' tall, the first two plants I grew got to be 8' tall! They towered over my 6' fence. One problem I have is that once it gets past the four foot tall mark, rain tends to snap the branches, and the plant can even fall over and uproot. I plant mine next to a fence where I can use rope to support it. I also trim it a little before a storm or a predicted downpour. Once it starts blooming, it keeps blooming until the first frost. I deadhead mine to make sure it'll keep blooming. ... read more


On Jun 24, 2015, caseypatrick from Ellicott City, MD wrote:

I tried this flower for the first time this year. I have found another favorite flower (next to zinnias). Big, bold orange flowers. I started my seeds indoors on March 6 and transplanted 9 plants on May 9. I had my first flowers around June 15. This year our spring was very warm. I guess I got lucky this year. The more you cut, the more they produce. I also see bumble bees and butterflies on the flowers. For the flower lover, this is a must have flower in the garden.


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!


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 crit... read more


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!


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!


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.


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

The seeds need light to germinate.


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....


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" ?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 las... read more


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.


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.


On Nov 25, 2008, CurtisJones from Broomfield, CO (Zone 5b) 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 c... read more


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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 ha... read more


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.


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 . ..


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.)


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


On Aug 25, 2003, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!!