Plant of the Month September 2019

Orange is my favorite color.  If it’s your favorite too, or if you like big, dramatic plants that flower non-stop all summer and autumn and which love Chico’s hot summers, give “Mexican sunflowers” a try.  

Known botanically as Tithonia rotundifolia, these flowering annuals are quick and easy to start from seed.  You can start them early indoors several weeks before the last spring frost and transplant them outside once temperatures are warm (my preferred method) or you can direct-sow them in soil outdoors around when the soil is warm (tomato planting season).  Just give them full sun and water when dry and stand back.  Mexican sunflowers quickly grow to five, six, or seven feet, producing vibrant orange flowers non-stop from early summer until a hard frost.  Their furry green foliage is very dense and the plants become very nice visual barriers for summer.   Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love the nectar and pollen, and all sorts of birds love the autumn seed heads too.  

'Torch’ is the most common hybrid available from seed and is well worth growing for its vibrant red-orange flowers.  Not a fan or orange? Give the equally wonderful ‘Yellow Torch’ a try with its sunshine yellow flowers.  

Happy gardening,
Grant (