For bold color and fast growth, plant Mexican sunflowers. Varieties covered here: Tithonia rotundifolia, rotundiflora and diversifolia, the giant Mexican tree sunflower.
Tithonias are fast-growing
annuals for sun.
A single plant can reach dimensions of 5x5 feet. Even the dwarf varieties which are supposed to top out at 3 feet will grow larger given enough heat and moisture.
The Mexican sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia is also known as Tithonia rotundiflora as both the flowers and the leaves are rounded in shape.
Mexican sunflower Torch will grow into a 5 foot bush in one growing season. It is easy to grow from seed and a row of Mexican Tithonia plants set around your patio will provide you with almost instant privacy while you wait for more permanent evergreens to mature.
Torch produces 3 inch wide deep orange blooms continuously from summer to frost.
There is also a variety called Yellow Torch which bears light orange flowers.
Tithonia flowers resemble those of zinnias and are butterfly magnets.
During my life as a gardener, I've gone through many phases. There was my antique rose phase...my fruit tree phase...my orchid phase (that one was expensive). At one point I become obsessed with novelty plants.
It was during this phase that I grew a giant Mexican tree sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia). If this isn't a real tree, you can't prove it by me. I planted it at the corner of my house in the spring. By mid summer it had breached the roofline. My neighbors were quite amazed at its growth and I was beginning to be afraid.
Where was this going...
Everything about this plant is big--the dessert plate sized blooms and the soft, fuzzy leaves. The story goes that in certain parts of Mexico Tithonia diversifolia is grown, not for its spectacular flowers, but for its leaves. They are said to be used, in some of the more rustic areas, as toilet paper.
We took to calling my 12 foot monster, the toilet paper tree. It just kept growing up...and out. Tiny, who had to mow the lawn, became annoyed and tried to cut it down.
The irrepressible toilet paper tree came back with a vengeance.
Finally, long after we had waved the white flag, something came along that the Tithonia diversifolia could not withstand.
A hard freeze.
Mexican sunflowers like sun, reasonably moist soil and heat. Give them this and they will bloom their heads off all summer long.
Growing Sunflowers Tips
Tips for growing miniature sunflowers in pots. Secrets of giant sunflowers. Tips for harvesting sunflowers.
Harvesting sunflowers for arrangements. Cutting and drying sunflowers. Harvesting sunflower seeds. Growing sunflower petals for use in salads.
Growing sunflowers. Planting sunflower seeds. How to grow common sunflower plants.