If You Plant Just One Annual for Pollinators …
Pollinators love Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).
I like to squeeze a few of these annuals into my perennial beds every year. I do it for the brilliant orange flowers, in part.
But I also do it because the Monarch butterflies love it.
Swallowtails and all kinds of other butterflies also love it.
And bees love it.
Even Hummingbirds love it.
It’s a big, sprawling plant that grows 6-7 feet tall in our garden. It likes sun and hot weather.
In our garden at least, it’s not a plant that creates dense bursts of color. Rather, it provides a scattering of bright orange polka dots in the border. This year we planted four Mexican Sunflowers: three in the Driveway Border, and one in the Herb Bed.
One drawback to Mexican Sunflowers is that the branches have a tendency to break off of the main stem. For this reason I like to plant it with sturdy neighbors capable of providing support, like the Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) above. Either that or I stake it, securing the main stems with twine.
I first planted Mexican Sunflower almost by accident, when I bought some young plants out of curiosity at Anton’s, our neighborhood plant nursery. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.
If you already grow Mexican Sunflower, you know what a great plant it is. If you don’t and you have a sunny spot, give yourself and the pollinators a favor and try it.
That’s all for now.
It’s beautiful. I’ve never heard of it, but it certainly does add a nice splash of color.
Speaking of pollinators, have you seen the new postage stamps? They’re really quite nice.
Yes, the stamps are great!
Fabulous photos! You have happy pollinators!
The wildlife is obviously very happy with the flowers you provide, this one is a winner!
They are beautiful, and I will definitely grow them again next year…. I need to sow more in order to make sure I get enough plants. Love your photos!
Lovely Mexican Sunflower, Jason. Sure pollinators love it!
It’s wonderful to see this growing so enthusiatically and doing such a great job attracting the prettiest pollinators! My plants never get beyond 2-3 ft. I still love them though.
I love this plant and I’m so glad you are highlighting it! I did a large planting of it, using orange Cannas as the support plant and Verbena bonariensis as an accent/weaver plant. It turned out spectacularly and boy, did the Monarchs love it! We’d routinely see dozens of them at a time- and many other butterflies as well. Of course, in those day there were many more Monarchs.
Tithonia with orange Cannas and V. bonarienses – that does sound amazing! I can believe the Monarchs loved it, and lots of other butterflies, too, I’ll bet.
I remember when I first started gardening I planted some seeds of this. I will never forget the amazing feeling that this tall flower induced when it shot up and bloomed. It is so pretty and yes, the bugs and birds love it.
I love that plant and the fact that it draws so many pollinators. I must get some for 2018.
If you have some sunny space, definitely give it a try!
You convinced me! If only I had a sunny yard.
I have to start the seeds inside. This is the first year in quite awhile that I did not get any planted. I need to remember to get the seeds planted next spring.
You’re right, they need to be started inside – they are definitely not hardy annuals.
What great photos, Jason! Over the last few years, you’ve made me a believer. But so far, my success with them has been limited. Last year I planted them in too small a space, not realizing how big they could get. This year is a sad story, though: I planted them near a shed where they would get lots of sun and have room to sprawl. I neglected to tell my husband they were, there, though, and well…let’s just say they don’t respond well to weed-killer:( Hoping next year will be “third time’s the charm” and I can finally get it right for the pollinators.
Oh, dear. Sounds like your husband needs to perform some serious penance.
I love them too:^)
Love it! Tammy sent me some seeds a couple of years ago and I wouldn’t be without it now. Thankfully, they are one of the few annuals that the rabbits let alone this year.
It’s a great color but it’s been years since I grew it. Next year, It’ll make a comeback in my garden!
I have want to grow these for years….
Vivid, happy colors that I adore. Great Job. Especially lovely to see the hard at work tiny hummingbird.
Ooh! You’re tempting me. I am a lazy perennial gardener but these are really gorgeous. Off to find seeds for next year. 🙂
I’m goi g to try these next year. I have a spot near the top of a garden that I’m hesitant to put a perennial in just yet. I want to see what color, height, etc works well there. This would be a good experiment.
Sounds like a good plan.
It’s a plant I’ve never grown. I should try it.
I would love to grow it, but it’s possible I’m allergic to it since I’m allergic to sunflowers. (I get a poison ivy-like rash & itchy blisters all over, plus my joints swell.) The thing is I’m not allergic to all plants in the aster family. I’m not allergic to asters actually. I’m on the fence. It’s so lovely.
Well, I don’t know if there’s a way to tell in advance if you are allergic. If it helps, they are in separate genera.
I’m convinced, especially since it has an open habit – on my list for next year.
I think you’ll like it.
Sounds promising! I have a plant which was given to me this spring and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Funny that at first I was worried it would be a dwarf variety 🙂
Started some from seed early this spring, and one just opened its first flower! I planted 4 out–two are doing great—very tall and loaded with buds, while the other two have not taken off and are still just about 18 inches tall, but quite bushy. Location, location, location, perhaps.
It’s simply gorgeous, how well the monarch compliments it. Oh my, hummingbirds always get me, every time!xxx
I am regretting the failure to plant Tithonia this year. It is surely one of the stars of the garden. Thanks for sharing yours.
It was from you that I first learned of tithonia. Since then, I have grown them from seed every year. I have them in a couple of community gardens with which I’m involved and always get comments and questions from visitors and passers by. In my own garden today, they were covered with swallowtails, one monarch, and a bevy of bees. It’s hard to deadhead when the critters are there.
They’re a really eye-catching plant, aren’t they?
I do love the bright orange colour but I have given up on it because the flowers so often break or bend at the neck. They look great in your garden.
It’s true that it makes a terrible cut flower, and the stems break very easily. I love it anyway.
I might grow it again as I love the colour