Mexican Sunflower: Must-Grow Tithonia Plants

There are literally two crops that qualify as Mexican sunflower, each of that are Tithonia species. Tithonia rotundifolia can be known as the “pink sunflower,” however Tithonia diversifolia has a slew of names starting from “Japanese sunflower” to “tree marigold” or “Mexican tournesol.” 

Each share the widespread identify “Mexican sunflower,” however the former is orange-to-red in shade, and the latter is yellow. Every Mexican sunflower is so intently associated that their care is equivalent. Each are native to Mexico. They’re each nice crops for drawing in butterflies, and hummingbirds love them! 

Any grasp gardener will let you know Mexican sunflowers make a fantastic addition to any butterfly backyard as they’re identified for attracting many helpful bugs, together with monarch butterflies. Develop Mexican sunflowers alongside milkweed (the monarch butterfly’s host plant), castor bean plant, flowers that appear like sunflowers, and different butterfly-friendly crops in an effort to present them with an extra meals supply. 

Tithonia diversifolia is a bit more widespread than Tithonia rotundifolia (widespread pink sunflower), however each are widespread backyard crops. To stop confusion from right here on out, we are going to talk about T. diversifolia. This straightforward plant is within the Aster household and has flowers that resemble marigolds (that are additionally within the Aster household!). 

In each instances, Mexican sunflower care is similar. Now, let’s speak about find out how to develop Mexican sunflowers!

Good Merchandise At Amazon For Rising Mexican Sunflower:

Fast Care Information

Tithonia diversifolia. Supply: Starr
Frequent Identify Tree marigold, Mexican tournesol, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, Nitobe chrysanthemum
Scientific Identify Tithonia diversifolia
Household Asteraceae
Top & Unfold As much as 8 ft tall by 3 ft large
Gentle Full solar
Soil Effectively-drained
Water Drought tolerant as soon as established
Pests & Illnesses Snails and slugs, powdery mildew

All About Mexican Sunflowers

Monarch butterfly on an orange Mexican sunflower
Butterflies like to land on Mexican sunflowers. Supply: kendoman26

Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) are often known as tree marigold, Mexican tournesol, Japanese sunflower, Nitobe chrysanthemum, or just Tithonia. As their identify would recommend these flowers originate from Mexico and Central America. They’re grown as annuals in most areas however may be grown as perennials in USDA zones 9/11. In hotter climates, they are often in the reduction of to the woody progress in late fall/early winter and they’re going to develop again within the spring. 

Though Mexican sunflower is the commonest identify for this plant, tree marigold looks as if probably the most applicable identify. They will develop to be 8 ft tall and resemble a small tree! And the flower extra intently resembles that of marigolds quite than true sunflowers. The Tithonia flower can are available a wide range of colours, however the preferred are shades of pink, orange, and yellow. T. diversifolia is most frequently yellow. 

Rising Mexican sunflower is really easy that you just may even do it accidentally! They’ve the power to set roots from any level on the stem, very like a tomato. Which means if considered one of these sunflowers falls to the bottom it then has the power to root itself and develop a brand new flower. It’s this progress behavior that has led to it being thought-about invasive in some areas. 

All that being mentioned, due to its aggressive progress, it may be used as a supply of biomass and used so as to add natural matter to different areas of your backyard. When utilizing them this fashion it is very important run the stalks by a chipper or chop them finely to keep away from them spreading to an space the place you don’t need them. This manner you possibly can develop your individual fertilizer! 

Mexican sunflower crops have been known as the comfrey plant of the south, and pound for pound present vitamins equal to rooster manure. Because of this, it has additionally been known as vegan manure. As a result of Mexican sunflower care is so minimal, you’ll have nice success utilizing this fashion.  

For those who’re involved about dedicating a considerable amount of vertical area to the Mexican sunflower, then by no means worry! There are additionally dwarf varieties that received’t develop as tall similar to Fiesta del sol. These smaller crops don’t take up as a lot area and nonetheless provide stunning minimize flowers from the backyard. 

Caring For Mexican Sunflowers

Tithonia diversifolia flower
A great view of the Tithonia diversifolia flower. Supply: Anita363

Mexican sunflower care is minimal which makes them an ideal plant kind for the newbie gardener. Learn on to discover ways to maintain these stunning yellow flowers blooming all summer season. Give them sufficient area in your backyard and their blooms will entice many pollinators together with butterflies – just like the monarch butterfly – and hummingbirds. 

Solar and Temperature

Mexican sunflowers love full daylight. They require 6-8 hours of daylight per day and may be very drought tolerant as soon as established. For those who develop Mexican sunflower crops in partial shade, they won’t produce blooms as profusely and won’t develop as tall. They might even develop spindly, lanky, and flop over from a scarcity of daylight. 

USDA rising zones 9/11 most intently resemble this plant’s native habitat. These crops are extraordinarily delicate to frost and funky climate and shouldn’t be grown open air till nighttime temperatures warmth to 60 levels Fahrenheit and above. 

Because of this, in milder climates with frost looming, you could need to begin your Mexican sunflower seeds indoors in containers (like our Epic 4-cells) about 6-8 weeks earlier than your final frost date to make sure that this plant has sufficient time to develop and flower in summer season. This head begin after the final frost will be sure that your Mexican sunflowers have sufficient time to develop beautiful blooms. 

In hotter climates with out as a lot frost, you could select to sow seeds immediately into your backyard. All the time seek the advice of the packet of your Tithonia seeds earlier than you sow immediately for the size of time from seed to summer season bloom. 

Water and Humidity

Planting a Mexican sunflower seedling would require extra water than a longtime Mexican sunflower plant. Whereas they’re younger make sure to water your sunflower plant deeply and infrequently (a minimum of two instances per week). Water within the morning on the base of the plant and keep away from wetting the foliage and blooms as they will endure from mildew. 

For this identical cause, this plant kind doesn’t get pleasure from excessive humidity, and crops should be correctly spaced within the backyard to keep away from overcrowding and enhance airflow. As soon as the bloom season has come to an finish, you possibly can stop watering your crops. It’s additionally essential to notice that this plant doesn’t like moist soil, so when unsure, it’s higher to underwater quite than overwater the sunflower backyard. 


Mexican sunflowers can tolerate poor soil situations and have been identified to thrive in sandy and rocky soil. As talked about above a very powerful consideration in your backyard soil if you end up rising Mexican sunflowers is that it’s well-draining in an effort to keep away from constantly moist soil. Your soil ought to be capable to dry out between waterings. Mexican sunflower crops also can tolerate a wide range of soil pH ranges and may even tolerate barely acidic soils. 

Fertilizing Mexican Sunflowers

As talked about above, Mexican sunflower care is minimal. Because of this, this plant doesn’t require any fertilizer in any respect. The addition of some natural matter to the backyard planting web site initially of the rising season ought to be ample. As soon as established, they don’t require a lot in the best way of watering, nor do they require fertilizing. Deadheading the spent blooms will encourage extra flowers than any fertilizer will. To not point out, Mexican sunflower crops may be chopped and dropped into the backyard and used as a fertilizer for different crops in your backyard. 

Pruning & Coaching Mexican Sunflowers

Tall Mexican sunflower plant
Mexican sunflowers can develop to be fairly tall. Supply: Starr

As beforehand talked about, deadheading spent blooms is critical for flower manufacturing, extra so than the addition of fertilizers. As soon as the bloom of your Mexican sunflower crops has light, merely minimize them again on the nearest progress level beneath to encourage bushier progress, and extra blooms will quickly seem. 

With out deadheading, you’ll get fewer blooms general, and the Mexican sunflowers might develop too tall to help themselves and require staking or coaching up a trellis. You may additionally discover your sunflower has accomplished the planting of seeds with out you, as seeds germinate in spring and flowers bloom in summer season. 

One of the essential elements of studying find out how to develop Mexican sunflowers is deadheading. Deadheading prevents the spreading of seeds that offers Tithonia its invasive fame. By eradicating the plant’s seeds from the backyard, you’ll save area for different flowers in summer season. 

Mexican Sunflower Propagation

Now that you know the way to look after Mexican sunflowers, you could be wanting extra of them and questioning find out how to propagate Mexican sunflower. The very best and easiest way of propagation for these crops is to begin them from seed. In USDA zones 9/11, you could select to plant seeds immediately open air or begin seeds indoors and transplant Mexican sunflower seedlings in an effort to get earlier blooms. 

In milder climates with a shorter rising season, it’s advisable to begin the seeds indoors for planting open air at a later time. Seek the advice of the again of the seed packet for suggestions particular to your space. 

Since these sunflowers put out aerial roots, they can be propagated from stem cuttings. Like tomato crops, Mexican sunflowers can put out roots all alongside their stem. Take away a bit of the stem slightly below a leaf node. Ensure that the slicing has a minimum of 2-3 leaves. Place the slicing immediately right into a pot with soil and maintain nicely watered in a sunny window indoors. Roots will set up inside 2 weeks, they usually can then be transplanted open air.  

Troubleshooting Mexican Sunflowers

Tithonia diversifolia spent flowers
Spent Tithonia diversifolia flowers on the plant. Supply: osahiro_nishihata

The Mexican sunflower plant is a comparatively carefree and no to low upkeep plant. Nevertheless, there are some indicators to look out for when rising Mexican sunflowers that might point out an underlying situation. 

Mexican Sunflower Rising Issues

As talked about above, rising Mexican sunflowers requires full solar. A lot of the rising issues that happen with this plant are a results of a lack of daylight. For those who discover that your crops aren’t blooming within the butterfly backyard, that progress appears sluggish, or that crops are spindly and lackluster, then this might be a results of a scarcity of solar. 

There isn’t any method to treatment a scarcity of sunshine aside from to make use of warning when selecting a planting web site in your sunflowers previous to the time you plant seeds. Make sure to select a spot to develop Mexican sunflower in your backyard that receives 6-8 hours of daylight per day and isn’t shaded out by every other crops or constructions. 

Since these flowers are identified to develop fairly tall, they can be knocked over if grown in a windy or uncovered space. It’s not not possible to develop Mexican sunflowers or begin seeds in some of these areas. Nevertheless, you could want to offer help like a trellis or stakes in an effort to maintain them upright. 


Since sunflowers are native to Mexico, these Tithonia crops are nicely suited to drought and dry situations. Due to this fact most of their pest points are a results of moist climate situations. Slugs and snails can generally trouble Mexican sunflowers, particularly after prolonged wet situations. For those who discover irregular holes within the foliage after extended moist climate, then this can be an indication of snails or slugs. 

A moist piece of cardboard may be positioned close to the place you develop Mexican sunflower to behave as a lure. These pests will search out the cardboard as shelter throughout the day and may then be simply collected. Iron phosphate has been identified to regulate snails and slugs in additional excessive infestations, or natural slug & snail baits may be utilized. 


If you discover ways to develop Mexican sunflower, you’ll discover overwatering could cause the proper situations for fungus to take maintain, particularly in scorching and humid climates. If an excessive amount of moisture is splashed onto the foliage throughout watering, then this may contribute to points with powdery mildew. This mildew seems as a white flour-like powder on the leaves. 

To stop these points, all the time backside water your crops. Neem oil can also be sprayed as a preventative measure to scale back the colonization of spores on foliage. In superior instances of this mildew, eradicating and destroying contaminated plant materials could also be greatest to stop it from spreading to close by wholesome crops. After eradicating contaminated materials (stalks, seeds, and flowers), spray neem oil or a liquid copper fungicide onto the rest of the plant and close by crops to scale back the chance of additional unfold. 

Often Requested Questions

Mexican sunflower
Mexican sunflower is a beautiful pollinator plant and backyard asset. Supply: Starr

Q: Do Mexican sunflowers come again yearly?

A: Mexican sunflower (Tithonia crops normally as nicely) will should be planted once more every spring in gentle climates. In USDA zones 9/11, you possibly can develop Mexican sunflowers as perennials. 

Q: Is the Mexican sunflower an annual or perennial?

A: Mexican sunflowers are annuals in most areas. 

Q: Is Mexican sunflower invasive?

A: T. diversifolia is taken into account invasive in Florida, however T. rotundifolia isn’t, and in many of the western US each are used interchangeably. Which means you possibly can develop Mexican sunflowers wherever safely.

Q: Will Mexican sunflower reseed itself?

A: Sure, though Tithonia is an annual, it would readily reseed and are available again 12 months after 12 months with little intervention. In hotter climates similar to USDA zones 9/11, you possibly can develop Mexican sunflowers as perennial crops.  

Q: Do Mexican sunflowers want full solar?

A: Sure, develop Mexican sunflowers in full solar or 6-8 hours of daylight per day. 

Q: How lengthy does it take for Mexican sunflowers to bloom?

A: Seek the advice of the Tithonia seed packet for planting details about the precise days to bloom. Nevertheless, most Mexican sunflowers will bloom in midsummer and into the winter in hotter climates. 

Q: How do you narrow and drop a Mexican sunflower?

A: Tithonia crops produce aerial roots, kinda like tomatoes do — you possibly can minimize & drop the leaves with no downside, however it’s higher to cut the stems into tremendous particulate, so that you don’t unintentionally propagate the thick stems and make new crops!

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