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.