If you are looking for a fast-growing plant that will attract beneficial insects to your garden, choose a Mexican sunflower. With the ability to skyrocket upward of 6 feet tall in a single growing season, Mexican sunflower is easy to grow and blooms nonstop the entire growing season.
- Tithonia rotundifolia
- 3 to 8 feet
- 2 to 3 feet
Mexican Sunflower Colors
While not a true sunflower, this annual is native to Mexico. With its fuzzy, coarse-textured foliage in bright green, Mexican sunflower is a great choice as a filler plant to take up garden space as well as serve as a backdrop for other perennials. Mexican sunflower is most often found in warm shades of bright orange and hot yellow. The blossoms of Mexican sunflower resemble a large daisy with long, bright outer petals and a yellow center. This showy flower is attractive to local beneficial insects like the minute pirate bug. Plant a few near your vegetable garden to entice pollinators and good bugs, which can help control potential outbreaks of bad bugs.
Mexican Sunflower Care
Growing extremely easily from seed, Mexican sunflower loves summer heat. One of the easiest ways to grow Mexican sunflower is to sow seeds directly into the ground. Be sure to plant after the last frost in spring. When planting the seeds, be sure to sow directly on top of soil as the seeds require sunlight to germinate. In as little as 7-10 days you should see signs of germination. At this point, if plants are growing densely, it is best to thin seedlings out a bit—approximately 1–2 feet apart in order for plants to have the best growing conditions. If you would like to get a head start on growing Mexican sunflowers, they can also be started indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Once this date has passed, they can be transferred out to the garden.
Ideally, Mexican sunflower should be planted in well-drained soil with moisture levels ranging from average to dry. But Mexican sunflower tolerates poor soil. This plants will not tolerate wet soil or soil rich with organic matter as it will make the plant flop.
For the most impressive display of flowers, be sure to plant Mexican sunflower in full sun. This also helps keep the plant compact and prevents flopping. In part sun conditions, plan on staking to keep it upright. When growing Mexican sunflower, plan on deadheading plants to encourage continuous blossoms. In more tropical climates, this can also help prevent potentially vigorous reseeding.
Plant Mexican Sunflower With:
Cannas bring tropical splendor to gardens in all regions. These bold plants feature clustered, flaglike blooms in a brilliant color array on tall stems. Recent flower breeding has created canna foliage that is even showier than the petals, with variegated leaf combinations of orange, yellow, and greens that glow in the summer sun. Dwarf cannas are also available for container gardening and other small spaces. Cannas are usually grown from tuberous roots but some newer varieties can also be raised from seed, with flowering guaranteed for the first year.Cannas provide architectural interest in summer borders and they also flourish along the damp margins of a pond. If you garden in a climate colder than Zone 9 (7 for the hardier types of cannas), you'll need to dig canna plants up and store them bareroot for the next season or overwinter potted specimens indoors. A destructive mottling virus has threatened canna stock in nurseries across the U.S., so be sure to buy your plants from a reputable source.
Plant a castor bean and then stand back. This is one of the fastest-growing, giant annuals in the garden, rivaled only perhaps by giant sunflower. By midsummer, you'll have a huge (it can hit up to 20 feet) tropical plant sporting burgundy foliage. It's a great plant to grow with kids. Be careful, though. The seeds are extremely toxic.Wait to plant it outdoors after all danger of frost has passed; castor bean hates cool weather and won't grow well until temperatures heat up in summer.
Nasturtiums are so versatile. They grow easily from seed sown directly in your garden's poorest soil and blooms all season until frost and are never greedy about food or fertilizer. Nasturtiums are available in either spreading or climbing types.Plant spreading types in large containers to spill over the sides. Plant them alongside wide paths to soften the sides for a romantic look. Use nasturtium to brighten a rock garden or between paving stones. Plant them at the edges of beds and borders to fill in between other plants and add soft, flowing color. Train climbing types up trellises or alongside fences. The leaves and flowers are edible; use them as a showy plate garnish or to jazz up salads.