Tithonia rotundifolia

12 Interesting Facts About Mexican Sunflower

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The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) is a tall, vibrant flowering plant native to Mexico and Central America ((https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/mexican-sunflower-tithonia-rotundifolia/)). It belongs to the daisy family Asteraceae and can grow up to 12 feet tall in ideal conditions. The Mexican sunflower is known for its large, bright orange-red flowers that can reach 4 inches across. The flowers have a long blooming season from mid-summer through fall and attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

The Mexican sunflower also has large, triangular green leaves up to 12 inches long that provide a nice contrast to the colorful flowers. This heat and drought-tolerant plant thrives in hot, sunny climates. It grows rapidly, often reaching maturity in just one growing season. The Mexican sunflower has traditionally been used medicinally by indigenous peoples to treat ailments like coughs and sore throats, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its leaves and flowers are also edible. The plant attracts birds and beneficial insects to gardens as well. Overall, the Mexican sunflower is appreciated for its vibrant beauty, hardiness, and ecological benefits.

Here are 12 fascinating facts you may not know about the Mexican sunflower:

Interesting Facts About Mexican Sunflower

1. It has very large flowers

Tithonia rotundifolia
Tithonia rotundifolia by Carl E Lewis is licensed under CC BY 2.0 .

The flowers of the Mexican sunflower grow up to 4 inches (10 cm) across. They have bright reddish-orange petals surrounding a dark red center. The large, showy blooms attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

2. The plant can grow very tall

In ideal conditions, the Mexican sunflower can reach heights of up to 12 feet (3.6 m). It has an upright growth habit and sturdy stems that don’t require staking. The tall plants make an excellent backdrop for shorter flowers in garden beds.

3. It blooms through summer and fall

Mexican sunflowers begin blooming in mid-summer. If regularly deadheaded, they will continue flowering until the first frost in fall. The long bloom period provides months of color in the garden.

4. The leaves are large and lush

The leaves of the Mexican sunflower grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) long. They have a lush, tropical look. The large leaves provide excellent contrast and backdrop to the brightly colored flowers.

5. It attracts pollinators

With its bright, nectar-rich flowers and accessible shape, the Mexican sunflower attracts many pollinators. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds flock to the blooms for the sweet nectar.

6. It tolerates heat well

The Mexican sunflower thrives in hot, sunny conditions. As a plant native to tropical areas, it can handle high temperatures and intense sunlight. It’s an excellent choice for gardens in hot, dry climates.

7. It grows quickly

This fast-growing annual reaches mature size rapidly. It can grow over 6 feet (2 m) in one season. The quick growth makes it useful for temporary backgrounds and screens.

8. The flowers make good cut flowers

The showy orange blooms make excellent cut flowers. They last up to two weeks in floral arrangements. Use the striking flowers as bold focal points in bouquets and centerpieces.

9. It attracts birds in winter

The dried flower heads have plentiful seeds that attract songbirds. Leave the spent flowers on the plants over winter. Chickadees, finches, and other birds will stop by for the seeds.

10. It’s easy to grow from seed

Mexican sunflower plants are easy to grow from seeds started indoors. Sow the large seeds in pots 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost. Transplant seedlings outdoors when the weather warms.

11. It has natural medicinal uses

Mexican sunflower has a long history of medicinal uses in its native region. The Aztecs used it to treat coughs and sore throats. The plant also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

12. The leaves make eco-friendly compost

The fast-growing Mexican sunflower produces lots of nutrient-rich foliage. The leaves can be used to provide green material for home compost piles. It’s a sustainable way to improve your soil’s health.


With its vibrant flowers, lush foliage, and many uses, the Mexican sunflower is an outstanding plant for gardens. This heat-loving perennial thrives through summer and fall, attracting pollinators and birds along the way. Growing Mexican sunflowers is also eco-friendly and easy to do. Give this beautiful bloom a try in your garden this year!

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