Simple suggestions for growing glorious tithonias

If you want to make a bold statement in the garden, tithonia, or Mexican sunflower, is the plant for the job. Follow these simple suggestions for selecting, planting and caring for tithonias to get the best results.

Simple suggestions for growing glorious tithonias

Choose the right height

  • With eight-centimetre-diameter (three-inch-wide), scarlet-orange or yellow blossoms and standing 1.2 to 1.8 metres (four to six feet) tall with large leaves, most tithonias traditionally reside in big spaces
  • In a small yard, the 1.8-metre-tall (six-foot-tall), vibrant orange-flowered 'Torch' may appear too big for its britches and muscle out its bedfellows
  • The smaller 1.2 metre (four foot) versions, such as golden apricot-flowered 'Aztec Sun' and deep orange 'Goldfinger', can be grown in the company of mid-sized plants
  • The even newer 'Fiesta Del Sol', which reaches a demure 70 to 75 centimetres (26 to 30 inches) in height, can star as a solo act in a pot

Use them for privacy or cut flowers

  • Related to both sunflowers and zinnias, tithonias have a dense, bushy appearance and deep green, heart-shaped leaves
  • Several planted side by side can form a nearly instant hedge for the growing season and tithonias combine well with ornamental grasses and Russian sage
  • The bright blossoms make good cut flowers
  • To maximize vase life, seal the tips of their hollow stems by plunging them into boiling water after cutting, or singe the cut ends with a flame before placing the stems into a vase of water

Provide low-maintenance care

  • Tithonias  require no fussing as they are adapted to dry regions with poor soil
  • Avoid soil that is too fertile or they will grow leaves at the expense of flowers
  • Sunflowers tolerate drought, but you should still irrigate as needed to provide 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of water weekly during summer dry spells
  • Tall and leafy tithonias can be toppled in brisk winds. To prevent disaster before it strikes, stake the plant when it nears full height

Tithonia growing tips

  • Tithonias are easy to start from seed and the seedlings sprout and grow rapidly
  • To get a head start, sow seeds indoors four weeks before frost-free weather on moistened seed-starting soil, and lightly press them into the soil
  • Keep the soil moist and set pots in a well-lighted place, providing them with warm room temperatures to speed germination
  • To keep the roots from becoming crowded, transplant seedlings into five centimetre (two-inch) pots as soon as the first true leaves develop and continue to grow in a sunny place at 16°C (61°F)
  • After the danger of frost has passed, transplant seedlings into the garden or sow seeds directly into sunny, well-drained beds, leaving at least 30 centimetres (12 inches) between the seeds
  • Tithonias are not prone to diseases or insect infestations, although leaf-chewing Japanese beetles occasionally become a problem in the East
  • Hand-pick and dispose of beetles in the morning or apply insecticidal soap following the package directions, spraying early in the day to prevent leaf scorch

A high-impact flower requiring low-maintenance care, tithonias are a fun and easy way to brighten up your home or garden. Keep these selection, planting, and growing tips in mind and enjoy.

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