Monday, March 16, 2009

Mexican Sunflowers, non stop bloom and a butterfly magnet

Another annual I'm excited about trying this year.

(Fiesta del Sol from Park Seeds)

The Mexican sunflower or Tithonia is a plant I've tried to grow for years with limited success. It isn't really a difficult plant needing very little water, average soil, and thriving in heat and humidity. In my garden I always grew the tall 4-6 foot variety Torch. Just as the plant began its spectacular bloom display a summer thunderstorm would blow in and snap the brittle stems in a dozen places. The rest of the summer I'd be left with misshapen, stubby plants that continued bloom but lost stems in every wind.

This year I' m hopeful again. There are a couple smaller varieties on the market that are under 3-feet in height. Fiesta Del Sol the AAS award winning dwarf vaieity produces heavily from mid summer till frost on 28-inch plants. There aren't many flowers Monarch butterflies love more than Tithonia. If that isn't reason enough to try it, deer and insects do not like it, and it isn't bothered by disease. One of those rare win-win situations in the garden world.

I wish my garden had an area sheltered from high winds. Tithonia Torch would make an impressive spectical grouped. I had tried to grow it in a group of three as a screen but the entire group ended up a lopsided mess of broken branches.

It was easy to find seeds locally for both the dwarf and the taller vaireties. I'm really looking forward to trying Fiesta Del Sol. Tithonia doesn't tolerate frost and isn't fond of cool springs. It thrives in full sun and hot summers.


Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone. May you each find that rainbow that leads you to a pot of gold.

46 comments:

Phillip said...

I'm not familiar with it but it is very pretty. I probably don't have enough sun to grow it. Sigh

Kathleen said...

Another great choice Marnie! You're going to have a knockout garden this summer. I'm thinking I tried this one years ago too but maybe not? I don't remember the results. I'm usually into anything that draws in butterflies ~ it sounds excellent for that. Maybe I'll check into it again since I haven't started seeds for my annuals yet. That darn wind ~ it breaks my delphiniums almost every single year, staked or not. argggg.

Darla said...

Very pretty, I'm sure you will do well with it. I hope to find my pot of gold, Thank you!

tina said...

Ah yes, the rainbow to a pot of gold. I am looking! Good luck with your Mexican sunflowers. I like that genus of annuals very much. Limited success here since I am sun challenged.

sweet bay said...

I love Tithonia too. My favorite is the tall orange, but wind is its enemy, that's for sure.

The first summer we were in our house I planted Tithonia on the south side of the house, and it was so impressive that even people who weren't plant people were asking about it. At least those Tithonia had a couple of weeks before the wind took them down, even with protection from the house.

Now I just let it seed around. Those sort of lay down and so don't get ravaged by the wind as much, lol.

I've seen some very charming plantings of the 3' variety in gardens in Raleigh. That pure orange really stands out.

Gail said...

Marnie, Wind is a problem here, too. It drives the rain into doors and windows...I do like this sweet plant and have wanted to try it for years...it looks wonderful in a friends garden and then it dawned on me...she has so wind at all. I am going to try it anyway! As you said...anything that brings in the butterflies!

gail

Darla said...

Want me to send you a potted piece of the Society Garlic?

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

Marnie,

I planted 1 1/2 flats of Tithonia 'Fiesta del Sol' in my Monarch Waystation butterfly garden. I was so excited.

However, I had terrible, terrible luck with those turning black and melting. They were planted in the driest area (top of the slope) in full sun, too. We had a rainy summer. Anyway, I felt like I spent a lot of $ and then pulled every plant out of the ground -- cutting back didn't help. In fact, they were difficult to cut because the stems were mushy.

Cameron

Jamie and Randy said...

How pretty they are! If Jamie and I are going to have more planting room we are going to have to get some new beds made! Maybe we and make room for these. :-)--Randy

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Darla, thank you so much for the offer. I think my brother has some that won't require any postage:) If not, I'll beg a start from you.

Cameron, that's discouraging. I'll be extra careful with drainage. It's usually so dry here it probably won't be a problem.

Hi Phillip, I know how you feel. I feel similar when I look at your photos of warm zone shrubs that I can't grow here;) Not fair!

Kathleen, I know, the wind is hard to deal with here.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Tina, the Irish are always looking for that hidden gold. Lack of sun limits lots of annuals. We all just have to adjust and work with what we have;)

Hi SweetBay, that's encouraging.

Hi Gail, what do we have to lose but a few seeds--and a huge hole in the garden;)

Marnie
Randy, sooner or later you're going to need more room. Nobody ever has enough.

Susie said...

I have never grown this plant but really like it. It sounds like the shorter version is the way to go.

Happy St. Patties Day to you too Marnie!

ramblingwoods.com said...

Those are really beautiful Marnie. It is almost 60 degrees here near Buffalo NY...It is spring..

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

It is lovely, Marnie. I had a question about weather,, but you answered it at the end. We do get heat! I want butterflies! If I try this plant I'll let you know. I'm always happy to learn something new, so thanks for sharing such good info! I hope you have great success w/the shorter varieties!!

joey said...

Good luck growing your dream Fiesta Del Sol, Marnie! I'm not much help since I've never grown these beauties. Do hope you're feeling much better. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Sweet Repose said...

I too live in a wind tunnel, guess I'll plant more cedars to block the winds.

Got my hands in the soil today, did some raking and turning the compost...don't git much better'n this...come on Spring!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You won't have any regrets growing this plant. I have grown several varieties of it and they all act as a butterfly/bee magnet. Hummingbirds like it too.

Kerri said...

I grew them a couple of summers ago but they were crowded out by perennials so didn't bloom very successfully. I'd like to try them again.
I hope you have good luck with the shorter ones. They're pretty.
Happy St. Pats Day to you too! Sure hope you're feeling much better by now.
Thanks for your comment on my Bloom Day post. Luckily our cats leave my houseplants alone, apart from Molly knocking one over a couple of times. But she hasn't done that for quite a while.

The Birdlady said...

Well, I'll be anxious to see the photos!

Msrobin said...

I have some tithonia seeds waiting to plant, and I hope I have better luck with them. I bought them to attract butterflies, so wish me luck! Thanks for the warnings though. I'll make sure to keep it out of my windy corner.

BeadedTail said...

Another beautiful flower Marnie! I just love learning so many things from you and can't wait until I can get out in the garden this year!

beckie said...

Marnie, another plant I am not familiar with! I have probably seen it but though it a type of zinnia. :} Sounds like a great addition to any garden for attracting butterflies. I hope it does well for you-kepp us posted. And if it does, just think of all the seed you will have to share!

Hope you finally got over the ickys.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
We planted "Torch" for several years but had the same problem you did with the wind, even though it was a prolific bloomer for us once it got going. I'll have to look for this variety because it sounds much more manageable and maybe the neighbors won't think it's a huge weed before it blooms (they do look kinda weedy at first, don't you think?). I hadn't known that there were smaller varieties, so thanks for tipping me off!

Happy St. Pat's to you ... no green beer for me though. :-)

troutbirder said...

Interesting. I'm thinking sunflowers too this summer and shorter varities seems like a sensible plan as I have had similar problems on my northwest facing gardens.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Susie, I'm determined to grow these darn things if I have to cage them to limit wind damage;)

RamblingWoods, another warm day here too. After work I spent a couple hours outside in the sun. It felt great!

Jan, it's worth a try. Everybody has gardens where certain things do well and others don't. This may do great in yours. It really is beloved by monarchs.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Joey, thanks for the encouragement. I'm determined to grow these even if they look like a train wreck of broken branches;)

Hey Sharon, me too! I was beginning to doubt spring was ever coming. Just a couple more weeks;)

Hi Lisa, I was looking for the dwarf yellow Goldfinger but can't find it.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kerri, my cats just will not leave house plants alone. A little nibble here, a big crash there as another pretty pot hits the floor...

Hi Birdlady, looking forward to getting some good butterfly photos on these.

MsRobin, good luck with yours. Please let me know if you have success.

Hey BeadedTail, these would look great outside your window. Keep the kitties entertained watching the butterflies.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Beckie, it is kinda like a zinnia bush;) I'm adding some zinnias too. Hope my greenhouse has a good selection of started plants.

IVG, the brittle stems must be the reason they aren't more widely grown. The tall ones do look weedy before they start to bloom, I agree.

Troutbirder, I know you like butterflies too. These are worth a try.

Marnie

Sherri said...

Marnie, Happy St. Paddy's Day to you too!

flowergardengirl said...

Happy St Patty's right back at cha. I do love a bright yellow flower of any kind and especially when it blooms its head off. I saw seeds for this variety and think I might have ordered some. I haven't opened the latest shipment. I'm afraid if I open the package--I'll have to plant them up. I have no clue where I'm going to put them.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

This is something I'm planting this year as well. In fact, it's one of the few things I still need to winter sow. It's supposed to hit 70 today, so the temps will be perfect for being outside 9it still gets below freezing at night of course).

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherri,have fun tonite.

Flowergardengirl, I know just what you mean. I'm not going to have room for everything either;)

Hi Monica, if you winter sow these how much later will they bloom?

Marnie

Naturegirl said...

Top of the mornin to ya!! Any plant that's a butterfly magnet is my kind of plant!!smiles and sunshine..from NG

Roses and Lilacs said...

I hear you NG, me too.

Marnie

Connie said...

I think you will like that Tithonia...it is a blooming machine! and so ORANGE.

Patsi said...

I love the sunflowers.Thought about getting them (still have time),great color. Wonder if they can get as dense as Parks picture. Happy Spring !

June said...

I'm enjoying your blog very much. I'm new to blogging but I'm finding my way around. I love the bird photos you posted. I love the birds that visit me and keep me company in my garden.

kari and kijsa said...

Happy St. Patricks Day!
blessings, kari & kijsa

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too. I think I would like the shorter varieties Tithonia much better. I never liked the long scaggeldy stems. Thanks for introducing me to it.~~Dee

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Connie, LOL, I know, they are ORANGE! I'm going to try to make the best of that with some purple accents and some yellow to tone it down;)

Hi Patsi, I'm sure they could be planted close, maybe a foot apart for a dense appearance.

Hi June, you will probably find yourself addicted to blogging very quickly;) I'm so glad you took the time to leave me a comment. Leaving comments is the quickest way to establish relationships among bloggers. Please continue to let me know what you like.

Marnie

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Kari & Kijsa, well the luck of the Irish wasn't with me on St Patrick's day. We did have beautiful weather but I didn't win the lottery--and I was really counting on that;)

Hi Dee, I agree. But the big plus is the butterflies;)

Marnie

TC said...

They're about as orange as orange can get. I grew them one year here, and they were an instant draw ... for Japanese beetles! The beetles made short work of every flower and leaf. Grrrr!

Roses and Lilacs said...

OH NO! Japanese beetles are the bane of my existence. I had no idea tithonia attracted them.

Thanks for that TC, I won't plant many if any after learning that.
Marnie

Raquel at Cool Garden Things said...

Thanks for the tips. I've been curious about Mexican sunflower for some time now...perhaps this year I will have time to put it in my garden!

Kim said...

Hi Marnie, I've not been around for a while, but it's good to catch up. I love the Mexican Sunflowers. Beautiful :)

Kim x

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Raquel, I hope you try some and are visited by lots of butterflies.

Hey Kim, good to see you back. I wonder how these heat loving plants would do in your damper, cooler climate?

Marnie