Driftless Seed Supply Grower Resources

Tithonia Growing Resources


Tithonia, or Mexican Sunflower, native to Mexico and Central America, has been a part of these regions' landscape for thousands of years. Symbolizing warmth and positivity with its bright, sun-like blooms, it holds cultural significance in traditional Mexican and Mesoamerican practices, often associated with the sun and life. Used in local festivals and ceremonies, it reflects a deep connection to nature. Gaining global popularity for its striking appearance and pollinator-friendly nature, tithonia is a favorite in ecological gardens. It symbolizes a blend of natural beauty and environmental awareness, highlighting the importance of sustaining local ecosystems. Tithonia makes excellent annual garden hedges, feeding pollinators and wildlife with both the active blooms and the seeds of matured flowers. 

Variety Selection

  • Standard Variety: The most common variety of Tithonia is Tithonia rotundifolia, known for its vivid orange flowers.
  • Dwarf Varieties: Smaller varieties like 'Fiesta del Sol' are suitable for limited space and container gardening.

Site Selection and Soil Preparation

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun is essential for robust growth.
  • Soil Type: Well-drained, fertile soil is ideal. Tolerant of poor soils but thrives in nutrient-rich conditions.
  • Soil pH: Prefers slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0 to 7.0).


  • Timing: Sow seeds after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Spacing: Space plants 1.5-2 feet apart to allow for ample growth.
  • Depth: Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep.


  • Watering Needs: Regular watering is necessary, especially in dry conditions. However, the plant is drought-tolerant once established.
  • Method: Water at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.


  • Initial Fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer at planting can encourage healthy growth.
  • Ongoing Nutrition: Light applications of a balanced or bloom promoting fertilizer every 4-6 weeks can be beneficial. 
  • Avoid excess Nitrogen: applying too much nitrogen can lead to excess foliage growth at the expense of blooms. While Tithonia needs good fertility because of its vigorous growth, it is still sensitive to excessive nitrogen.

Pest and Disease Management

  • Pests: Watch for aphids and whiteflies.
  • Disease Prevention: Good air circulation and avoiding wet leaves can prevent most fungal diseases.

Harvesting and Usage

  • Cut Flowers: Harvest when blooms are just opening for use in bouquets.
  • Continual Bloom: Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming, or let them mature as birds enjoy the seeds.

Post-Harvest Handling

  • Cut Stem Care: Place stems in water immediately after cutting.
  • Storage: Keep in a cool place out of direct sunlight to prolong vase life.

Additional Tips

  • Support: Taller varieties may need staking in windy or wet areas to prevent lodging (falling over).
  • Attracting Wildlife: Great for attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies to the garden.