How to Grow Mexican Sunflowers from Seed Attract the Monarch Butterfly and Goldfinches.

How to Grow Mexican Sunflowers from Seed attracting Monarch butterfly and Goldfinches.

Masses of bright orange, red or yellow sunflowers from the fast growing South American native annual. 

Hard to believe that by simply sowing a few of these Tithonia rotundifolia Orange Mexican Sun Flowers in spring you can create a fast growing annual screen or provide height in a large sunny border.

Enjoy deep orange Mexican sun flowers all Summer long from this native to Mexico and Central America this handsome quick growing one season plant that makes a great addition to Sun filled natural borders.

In the wild these annuals thrive in poor growing conditions, if grown in rich fertile soil these multi-branched Sunflowers can attain 8ft tall and several feet wide, dry poor soils will keep the plant compact. Tithonia plants typically grow 4-6+ feet tall, have a large upright habit and the Multi-branching stems can be come woody. Dark green leaves with a slight furry underside, dominate early Summer until the plants start to form buds.

Pollinators are drawn to this orange Sunflower, Hummingbirds, Butterflies and American Goldfinches this handsome annual will add drama and invite wildlife to any full Sun location.

I like to encourage wildlife by creating a natural Prarie by sowing these seeds with bold groups of tall grasses, Verbena, mountain mint, Rudbeckia and Zinnia’s for a colorful display all Summer long.

The Mexican Sunflower can be sown direct after last frosts and will quickly dominate your garden borders, with strong upright stems Tithonia can be cut back hard to keep compact and delay flowering for a late Summer display.


Grow Tithonia from seed, either planted directly in the garden after last frost or begin indoors several weeks before the last frost date for earlier blooms and larger plants. Sow on the compost or soil surface as direct light is required for succesful germination. 

Plant 2-4 feet apart and provide short stakes as the plant reached 3ft tall, due to the brittle stems a location with shelter from high winds is advisable. Thrives in warm dry weather and requires a long dry Summer to produce seed, be sure to leave plants in-tact through Fall to feed wildlife as they prepare for cooler conditions. 

I find growing plants from seed incredibly rewarding, even the smallest of outdoor garden areas can be a productive workout for all the family. Try thinking of your garden as a living kitchen and grow to love fresh flowers, organic fruit and vegetables straight from your own backyard oasis.

Stephen Pryce-Lea

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