Mexican Sunflower Care: How To Grow Tithonia Plants

The Mexican Sunflower, Bolivian sunflower, tree marigold or the Tithonia plant are considered an annual, native to both Central America and in Mexico, where varieties of the ponytail plant and spineless yucca trees also call home.

Locals refer to it as the “Golden Flower of the Incas” due to its large, showy bursts of daisy-like flowers. The plant grows to a range of anywhere from 36″ inches up to more than 60″ inches in height. It’s characterized by flashy orange, yellow and red flowers showing off their bright hues. Moreover, the flowers look great as it appears in contrast with its dark green leaves.

Butterflies love to fly around and pollinate Mexican sunflowers. This makes it a good addition to a flower garden if you want it to be visited frequently by butterflies and hummingbirds. Varieties of butterflies that sees its nectar as a treat include eastern tiger swallowtail, pipevine swallowtail and monarch butterflies.

The Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) proves to be a stunner, especially for those whose favor sunflowers. Much like its namesake, the Tithonia diversifolia makes an invaluable, colorful addition to your garden beds and is easy to grow. Here are some ways to grow your Tithonia plant beautifully.

tithonia mexican sunflower

How To Grow The Mexican Sunflower

The Mexican Sunflowers love full sun, and doesn’t like the cold weather. Plant Tithonias where they receive generous sun all throughout the day. The USDA rates them for growing zones 3 – 10.

Adequate soil should suffice in caring for the Tithonia plants; keep a well-drained soil to remove excess moisture. Before planting, put in a good amount of compost for your Mexican Sunflower to grow healthy and strong.

Mexican sunflower plants is drought tolerant making it a great summer plant. Mix in a general-purpose fertilizer as plants grow to promote a healthy surge. The plant starts blooming 2 to 3 inches of beautiful flowers from late summer to fall season.

Carefully remove spent Mexican sunflower blooms to make room for the new ones. Cutting the vase (dead heading) will encourage the plants to grow flowers for a longer time, even producing bright blooms even in late fall.

For the best results, place the Tithonia plants at the back border, and in groups. They can reach anywhere from 36 to 60 inches tall upon maturity. Stake plants for straight growth and to prevent them from falling over. When planting in containers, prepare a large pots for optimal growth conditions.

You can see the Mexican Sunflowers get lots of activity in the video below!

Tithonia Plant Propagation

Grow Tithonia plants from seed. At the onset of cold weather, start them indoors. During warmer months, set them outdoors. Remember keeping the soil moist until the Tithonia seeds sprout is key.

Sowing Seed Outside

Start the sowing process once the last frost passes. Soil should reach the temperature of 60 degrees. Mark the site well as the seeds might take a longer time to appear (about 10 to 21 days). Cover with shallow soil, about a fourth inch, and space the seeds about 6 inches apart. The spacing should be around two feet to three feet apart.

Sowing Seed Inside

If cold is not a problem in your area, start Tithonia seeds outside. Otherwise, start them inside about 8 weeks before the last frost. The seeds should be placed shallowly on the soil surface to allow germination. The germination process takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days with an optimal temperature of 70 degrees F.

You may start sowing from March till April in pots, trays, etc with a propagator or in a warm place for best results.

The young Mexican sunflower seeds should be transferred outdoors after the last frost of spring, at a 20″ inch spacing. Find the sunniest spot in your garden and plant your Mexican Sunflower in light soil.