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Member of :

GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 06/03/08

Plant of the Month

Tithonia diversifolia

 Mexican Sunflower

Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray is an impressive member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae. Tithonia was named for Tithonus, a legendary Trojan loved by the dawn goddess Eos, who turned him into a grasshopper. Tithonia diversifolia is a perennial native of Mexico and Central America and is cultivated for its beautiful flowers and enormous size. The plant's flowers are a favorite of bees and African farmers have many uses for the plant, the most popular use being as an organic fertilizer for vegetable crops in either compost or a tea form.

Mexican Sunflower, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Flowers, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Flowers, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Leaves, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Leaves, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Seedhead, Click to Enlarge Image

Mexican Sunflower Seedhead, Click to Enlarge Image

Plant Facts:

Common Name:   Mexican Sunflower

Botanical Name:   Tithonia diversifolia

Family:  Asteraceae

Plant Type:  Large, perennial, rangy shrub

Origin: Mexico and Central America

Zones: 8 - 11

Height:  Height and width to 12' or more

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Soil Requirements:  Average, well-drained soil

Water Requirements: Requires regular watering in dry weather

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Full sun for best growth and flowering

Form:  Shrub

Leaves:  Palm shaped, medium green to 6" wide

Flowers: Yellow, daisy-like, smell of honey -- loved by bees and butterflies

Fruits: Gray, flattened, dry, one-seeded fruit hidden by papery, brown-tipped bracts

Pests or diseases:  Young foliage attacked by snails and slugs

Uses:  Screening, specimen plant

Bad Habits: Foliage damaged by frost, but recovers rapidly

Cost:  $$ -- Very reasonable

Propagation:  Sow seeds in place

Source:   A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants,  Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia

 
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