Sic Transit Tithonia
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’m in love with Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), with its intense orange flowers that draw butterflies like a magnet.
However, we cannot be blind to the flaws of those whom we love. This past week I learned about such a flaw.
Namely, in rich soil Tithonia will grow to massive proportions. In my driveway border it had reached 7-8′. According to the Missouri Botanic Garden’s website, its normal height is 4-6′.
When it gets so big, it cannot stand up to pounding rain. The stems are thick but not flexible. They crack but do not bend if the weight and force of the water is great enough.
And that is what happened to my Tithonia. Of the four plants I had originally in the Driveway Border, only one now survives. I’ve staked the survivor to a 10′ length of rebar.
Fortunately the Driveway Border is so stuffed with plants I think it still looks reasonably full.
There is also one Tithonia in the Edibles/Cutting Bed, but it stayed a normal size and did not suffer any cracked stems.
In any case, in late August the Tithonia is definitely starting to decline – there are fewer blooms and the foliage is showing signs of decay.
I’m not giving up on Tithonia. I will definitely plant it again next year, but if it grows much bigger than 6′, I will stake it. Like so many of our loved ones, there are times when Tithonia needs support.
Have you learned anything about the flaws of any beloved plants this year?