Mexican Sunflower

Scientific Name:  Tithonia rotundifolia

Light: Full Sun

Zone: 2 to 11

Height:  4 to 6 feet

Width:  2 to 3 feet

Flowers:   July to September; Orange-red with yellow center disk

Fruit/Seed:  Summer to Fall

Fall Color:

Butterflies:  This nectar plant also attracts monarchs, eastern tiger swallowtails, fritillaries, painted lady butterflies, pipevine swallowtails, skippers, spicebush swallowtails, sulphurs, and more…

Birds: Eat seeds

Hummingbird:  Yes

Deer Resistant: Yes

Insects/Pollinators:  Attracts beneficial insects such as hover flies, minute pirate bugs, and butterflies.

Native: No. Native to Mexico and Central America

Idea Garden:

Propagation:    Sow indoors from St. Patrick’s Day thru the first of April in Carroll County. Keep at 70-75°F and provide light. Seed should geminate in 5-8 days at 64-72 °F.  Grow on at 53-59 °F . Tithonia does not tolerate temperatures below 49 °F even for short periods of time.  Tithonia may also be directly sown after Mother’s Day but it will not blossom until very late summer.



Tithonia is attractive as a hedge or specimen at the back of the garden as well as being valuable in cutting gardens.  Deer resistant, it attracts pollinators and then birds to harvest the seeds.  Easy-care, provide stakes in windy areas and deadhead.

Cultivars / Varieties

  • Fiesta del Sol’ – is a shorter cultivar that only grows about 3 feet tall. It was an All-American Selection award winner in 2000.
  • Goldfinger’ – A short variety (2-2.5 feet tall) better suited to small gardens with orange-gold flowers.
  • Torch’ – 4 feet; the most commonly offered cultivar, winning an All-American Selection award in 1951.
  • Yellow Torch’ – has apricot yellow-orange flowers.


Tithonia rotundifolia – Missouri Botanical Garden

Mexican Sunflower – University of Wisconsin-Madison Master Gardener Program

 Tithonia – Fine Gardening

Recommended for Wildlife by

Butterfly Gardening in the DC Area – Washington Butterfly Club

Bring Home The Butterflies Vol. I: How to Attract More Monarchs to your Butterfly Garden…and Keep Them There! by Tony Gomez

Photo Credits

 Nancy Bittler



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