Magazine article Sunset

Mexican Sunflower ... in Old-Fashioned and Improved Versions

Magazine article Sunset

Mexican Sunflower ... in Old-Fashioned and Improved Versions

Article excerpt

For bold, bright flowers that are tolerant of heat, tithonia or Mexican sunflower is a good choice.

For years the only varieties sold were the 5- to 6-foot-tall standard variety and 'Torch', which is supposed to reach only 3 to 4 feet tall but grows 4 to 5 feet in Western gardens. Both are a high-voltage red-orange with a tufted yellow center.

Now, two new forms are available. 'Yellow Torch' has deep yellow flowers with slightly narrower petals (rays) than the organe form shown here. 'Goldfinger' is a vermilion-flowered form that is supposed to stay under 3 feet tall.

Use taller forms for a summer hedge or temporary screen, or as a blazing backdrop for other flowers. Or plant them as fillers between immature shrubs or small trees. Tithonia's intense colors and simple growing needs combine well with those of marigolds, blue morning glories, and zinnias.

Sow the seeds in full sun where you want them to grow. Orindary soil is best; too much nitrogen promotes rank, floppy growth with fewer flowers. …

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