Hail, Hail Tithonia
I’ve already mentioned the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) growing in the vegetable/herb patch. The longer I watch this annual from Mexico and Central America, the surer I am that I want to plant it again next year.
First of all, when I hear the name “Tithonia” I think of Freedonia, the fictional country in the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup, possibly the greatest movie ever made. This puts me in a good mood, at least for a few moments.
As if that were not enough, I find that you can’t beat Tithonia’s attention-grabbing reddish orange color (I’m a person who loves orange flowers).
Mexican Sunflower hasn’t had any insect or disease problems. It likes hot weather, full sun, and medium to dry soil.
I’ve read that Tithonia grows to 6′ and may want staking. However, in my garden it is under 4′ with a shrubby habit – at least as broad as it is tall. The ones growing at the Chicago Botanic Garden have the same mounded habit, though they are pruned to be more nicely rounded. Without pruning, the flowers tend to have really long stems that poke outward like spokes.
The pollinators do seem to like the orange flowers.
Speaking of pollinators, I’ve been seeing a lone Monarch butterfly in the front garden most days for the past week or so. This is still less than normal. but a marked improvement. I hope their presence continues to increase, and maybe I’ll get some caterpillars on the milkweed.
The other day I used my phone to get our first and only picture of a Monarch in the garden this year.
Have you tried growing Mexican Sunflower?