Growing mexican sunflowers from seed

All About Sunflowers

Can I Grow Sunflowers Where I Am?

Sunflowers grow best in locations with full sun. They are remarkably tough and will grow in any kind of soil as long as it is not waterlogged. They do fine in soils that are slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5). Once sunflowers get started, they can tolerate drought as befits plants whose ancestors grew happily in dry prairie regions. They are so easy to grow that they often plant themselves, springing up unbidden beneath a bird feeder.

Sunflower seeds, leaves and stems emit substances that inhibit the growth of certain other plants. They should be separated from potatoes and pole beans. Where sunflower seeds are regularly used as bird feed, toxins from the accumulated seed hulls eventually kill the grass below. Harmless to animals or people, the toxins eventually biodegrade in the soil.

What Is The History Of Sunflower’s?

Contemporary sunflowers trace their ancestry to plants found at archeological sites dating from 3,000 BC. While they grew abundantly on the Great Plains, sunflowers were first purposely cultivated by Native Americans in the Southwest or Mississippi River valley area as a source of medicine, fiber, seeds, and oil.

When the European settlers arrived, they immediately recognized the value of sunflowers and sent seeds back to Europe. There they found a place in English cottage gardens and even Van Gogh’s paintings. However, it was in Russia that the sunflower became a major agricultural crop. They provided a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking church dietary laws. Early in the 20th Century, Russian growers spearheaded the breeding and selection for disease resistance and high oil content. In the 1960s, the U.S. began sustained commercial production of oil seed cultivars to produce vegetable oil.

Should I Grow Sunflower Seeds or Plants?-Shop all Sunflowers

How Do I Cultivate Sunflowers?

To plant sunflowers:

  • Space seeds about 6 inches apart in a shallow trench between 1 and 2 inches deep. In sandy soil, 2 inches deep is better.
  • Cover and keep watered until seeds sprout in 7 to 10 days.
  • When first true leaves appear (the second set of leaves); thin plants to about 2 feet apart.
  • Depending on the variety, sunflowers will mature and develop seeds in 80 to 120 days.
  • Sow a new row every 2 to 3 weeks to enjoy continuous blooms until the first frost.

For maximum seed production space rows 2 to 3 feet apart. Use traditional, tall, seed-producing varieties such as ‘Mammoth’ or ‘Paul Bunyan Hybrid’, ‘Aztec Gold Hybrid’, or ‘Super Snack Hybrid’.

Growing Tips For Sunflowers

Sunflower roots spread widely and can withstand some drought. However, it is best to water them regularly during their most important growth period which is about 20 days before and after flowering. Deep, regular watering helps encourage root growth, which is especially helpful with taller sunflower varieties bearing top-heavy blooms.

Sunflowers do not require fertilizing. However, because they grow vigorously (they can easily grow 6 feet in just 3 months), it’s a good idea to add some slow-acting granular fertilizer to especially poor, thin soil. The better their diet, the larger the flowers. Do not overdo the nitrogen because that will delay flowering. Spreading a 2- or 3-inch mulch layer of some kind of organic material on the soil will reduce moisture loss through evaporation and discourage weeds.

While a few sunflower varieties do not need any staking, it is a good idea to support plants that grow over 3 feet tall or are multi-branched. Their branches are fairly brittle, especially at the points where they join the stems. Shallow rooted and weighed down with many large flower heads, plants are vulnerable to summer winds and rain. Tie the plants loosely to stakes with lengths of cloth or other soft material as needed.

Birds and squirrels can be a problem when seeds ripen and harvest time approaches. If you do not plan to use the seeds, it is fun to watch wildlife enjoy the bounty. You may want to cut the flower heads off and lay them out in the sun to dry and provide easier access to wildlife. Conversely, to deter birds and squirrels, barrier devices are most effective. As seed heads mature and flowers droop, cover each one with white polyspun garden fleece. It will let light and air in and keep critters out. Also try cutting away the few leaves that are closest to the heads to make it harder for birds to perch and feed.
Deer will readily eliminate a sunflower patch. As they favor the new, tender leaves at the top of the plants, a 36-inch chicken wire barrier supported by 6-foot bamboo stakes should keep them at bay. Simply raise the wire as the plants grow.

What Are Some Sunflower Insects & Diseases?

Sunflowers are virtually as care free as their smiling faces suggest. However, they are sometimes infected with fungal diseases such as mildews and rusts. Downy Mildew causes mottling and pale areas on upper leaf surfaces and a fuzzy mold growth on their undersides. Eventually the leaves wither and die. The oldest leaves are usually infected first. Downy mildew is most likely to occur on cool damp nights and warm humid days. It spreads by means of tiny spores carried to plants and soil by wind and rain or transmitted by garden tools. It will not kill a mature plant; it just mars its appearance.

Rust appears on upper leaf surfaces first as yellow or white spots that turn brown or black. Puffy blisters then appear on the undersides. The disease may spread to stems and flowers causing distorted growth. Rust sometimes spreads to the cultivated sunflowers from weeds such as wild mustard, shepherd’s-purse, pigweed, and lamb’s-quarters.

If fungal diseases are spotted early, spraying with a general garden fungicide as directed on the product label can protect healthy foliage. Remove and destroy seriously infected plants. Keep the area weeded and clean up plant debris from the garden in the fall. Disinfect tools by dipping them in a solution of 1 part household bleach to 4 parts water. Keep your hands clean, and do not handle plants when they are wet.

Harvesting Tips For Sunflowers

In the early fall, check flower heads for signs of maturity. The reverse side turns from green to a yellow-brown. Large heads will nod downward. A close look will reveal the tiny petals covering the developing seeds have dried and now fall out easily exposing the tightly packed mature seeds.

Sunflower Recipes & Storage

Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamins, proteins, and minerals, as well as linoleic acid which helps the body metabolize fats properly. They contain about 24 to 27 percent protein, only slightly less than an equal weight of ground beef. Furthermore, sunflower seeds contain about twice the iron and potassium and about 4 times the phosphorus of beef. Raw sunflower seeds also contain vitamins B and E, and a dash of vitamin A. Sprouted, they also contain vitamin C.

Use the seeds for snacks, alone or mixed with raisins, dried fruit chips, and nuts. Add hulled sunflower seeds to salads and use them in fruit or vegetable recipes. Substitute sunflower seeds for nuts in baking.

See all our sunflowers


Figure 1 shows the results for plant emergence according to the duration of water excess application for three different sowing dates. A water excess application for 48 hours caused a sharp reduction in plant emergence in the third sowing date for T1 and T2 (Figures 1C and 1F), showing rates of 22.0% and 13.9% viable seeds, respectively. However, in the first and second sowing dates, these treatments showed higher rates of 95.3% and 79.3% (T1) and 71.6% and 18.9% (T2).

FIGURE 1 Emergence percentage (EP) of sunflower plants in three different sowing dates (1, 2, and 3) under water excess duration from 0 to 240 hours, applied immediately after sowing (A, B, and C) and 3 days after sowing (D, E, and F). The experiment was carried out in a greenhouse from August to November 2011, in Santa Maria – RS, Brazil.

Major reductions in plant emergence were found for treatments providing water excess for the same number of hours in the third sowing date. Furthermore, we may highlight that water excess led to severe losses in plant emergence in all sowing dates (when the germination process had already begun) right at the sowing day.

Similar results were found by Sung (1995) in a study with soybeans wherein water excess for longer than 24 and 48 hours reduced emergence by 50% and 100%, respectively. Therefore, water excess in sunflower crops during germination might be harmful right after sowing, as already seen for soybean seedlings (Nakajima et al., 2015). This might be explained by an increase in respiration rate and enzyme activity after the first seed imbibition peak, causing a high demand for O2 what potentiates seed damages (Orchard & Jessop, 1984).

The air temperature during the sowing-emergence subperiod led to differences among sowing dates (Figure 2). The germination reduction of sunflower seeds due to water excess was different for each water excess duration, crop stage, and sowing dates. To understand this, one must have in mind that air temperature variations depend on the sowing date, which may enhance losses caused by water excess.

FIGURE 2 Mean emergence percentage of sunflower plants subjected to water excess right after sowing (T1) and three days after sowing (T2) according to the mean air temperature for the three sowing dates. The experiment was carried out in a greenhouse, from August to November 2011, in Santa Maria – RS, Brazil.

Air temperature influenced the sunflower seedling emergence under water excess. Recent findings have evidenced the effects of water excess on seed germination of both soybeans (Nakamura et al., 2012) and maize (Zaidi et al., 2012). Here, we noted that emergence reduction was more harmful at 25 °C than at 15 °C and 10 °C. According to Orchard & Jessop (1984), high air temperatures lead to increased enzymatic activity and metabolism in sunflower seeds. This must occur because the seeds under stress of excess water lack oxygen for metabolic activities (Pezeshki & Delaune, 2012).

Adverse effects of water excess on leaf area (LA) were more evident when such stress occurred right after sowing and after germination onset (Figures 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 3E, and 3F), showing mainly emergence failures and plant density reduction. The LA values dropped down to almost zero after 48 hours of water excess – except for the first sowing date – due to lower air temperatures.

Water excess during emergence at V2 and V4 stages considerably reduced LA in sowing the dates 2 and 3. The first sowing date showed LA reduction only at V4 stage (Figure 3M). Water excess reduced the leaf area in sowing dates 2 and 3 (Figures 3H, 3K, 3N, 3I, 3L, and 3O). For the third sowing date, LA reductions were of nearly 40% if compared to control, for 48 hours of water excess treatment; whereas the 96-hour treatment led to reductions of approximately 50%. In the second sowing date, V2- and V4-stage treatments promoted LA reductions lower than those in the third date, being of 25% after 48 hours, and 40% after 96 hours, all in comparison to the control.

Such negative effect of water excess on LA was also observed on other crops such as maize (Zaidi et al., 2012), wheat (Araki et al., 2012), sorghum (Orchard & Jessop, 1984), and soybeans (Shimono et al., 2012; Lucas et al., 2015). According to Orchard & Jessop (1984), sunflower leaf expansion is strongly reduced due to water excess at V3 and V6 stages. Moreover, significant reductions in the photosynthetic rate took place after 48 hours of water excess application (Grassini et al., 2007). Yasumoto et al. (2011) described treatments using water excess in the establishment phase (V2 stage) and found sunflower growth suppression. Their results corroborated our observations, which showed a large reduction of LA due to water excess occurrence.

Leaf wilting was observed few hours after water excess treatment for all three sowing dates (Figure 4A). Furthermore, plant leaves showed photooxidative damage, mainly for V4-stage treatment in the sowing dates 2 and 3 (Figure 4B). Figure 4C highlights the differences in leaf area between plants receiving water excess or not.

FIGURE 4 Leaf wilting (A), photooxidative damage in the leaf tissues (B), shoot and root (C) without (C, left) and with water stress (C, right). Lateral and adventitious roots on the soil surface (D) rising as a response to water excess. The experiment was carried out in a greenhouse, from August to November 2011, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil.

According to Vartapetian & Jackson (1997), stomatal closure is an early plant response to water stress. Roots are unable to meet the water demand of plant leaves due to cell anoxia. Furthermore, photooxidative damages were visually observed in the leaves, mainly for water excess applied at V4 stage in sowing dates 2 and 3. Photooxidative damages under water excess were also observed in eggplants, tomatoes (Bansal & Srivastava, 2012), and in pigeon pea (Bansal & Srivastava, 2015).

Water excess had greater adverse effect on plant height when treatment was applied before emergence since it led to major reductions (Figure 5). This effect was mostly severe during the first 2 to 4 days, especially at higher temperatures (sowing dates 2 and 3). Orchard & Jessop (1984) reported significant reductions in plant height for sunflower (V6 stage) and sorghum (V5 stage) plants caused by water excess. Likewise, Shimono et al. (2012) observed plant height reductions of nearly 23-30% under water excess for soybean plants.

The largest reductions of SDM were observed in treatments applied before emergence (Figure 6). This variable reduced exponentially in most of the treatments applied after emergence, mainly at sowing date 3. Several treatments caused 50% SDM reduction, in comparison to the control, in the treatment with 48 hours of water excess (Figures 6K, 6N, 6I, 6L, and 6O).

The most striking difference among the sowing dates resulted from higher thermal time in sowing dates 2 and 3. Such condition led to fast plant growth, whereas plants under water excess presented stagnant growth. The third sowing date showed the highest growth for control treatment (over 100%) whether compared to the treatments with water excess.

Root growth in sunflower plants under water excess showed different results for primary and secondary roots (Figure 7). The maximum root length (MaxRL) was significantly smaller when water excess occurred at the sowing date or three days after sowing (Figure 7A and 7B). When water excess was applied at emergence or at V2 and V4 stages, the results of regression analysis were non-significant (Figures 7C, 7D, and 7E).

On the other hand, the main root length (MRL) was significantly smaller in all stages. Again, the severest results were found in treatments applied before emergence as plant population was smaller (Figure 7F and 7G). The treatments applied after plant emergence, with 48-hour water excess, were enough to reduce MRL when they were compared to the control. MRL stabilized at 7.15, 7.84 and 9.23 cm for treatments applied at emergence, V2, and V4 stages, respectively (Figures 7H, 7I, and 7J).

The root dry matter (RDM) reduced under water excess at different development stages (Figure 7). It exponentially decreased in most of the treatments, except for V4-stage application (T5). A larger reduction, in comparison to the control, could be noticed mainly at sowing day or three days after water excess application (Figures 7K and 7L). RDM reductions reached more than 50 and 80% after 48 hours of application at sowing day or three days after sowing, respectively. This variable reduced exponentially, showing a stable trend of nearly 2 g m−2 in treatments applied at emergence and at V2 stage (Figures 7M and 7N).

Root growth ceased as excess water application lasted longer. Yet root dry matter was drastically reduced after 48 and 96 hours of water excess but tended to increase after longer application periods (Figure 7O). Plants already had some leaf area at early development stages, as well as were suitable for accelerated growth.

The solar radiation increased from the first to the third sowing date what favored photosynthesis in control plants. Conversely, the high radiation might have enhanced the damages caused by water excess. According to Shimono et al. (2012), high levels of solar radiation on soybeans and alfalfa crops subjected to water excess are harmful. Results found by Orchard & Jessop (1984), for sunflower plants, also showed SDM reduction and leaf expansion inhibition due to water excess treatments applied at V3 and V6 stages. Other crops also showed SDM reductions due to water excess, e.g. wheat (Araki et al., 2012; Marti et al., 2015), maize (Zaidi et al., 2012), and soybean (Shimono et al., 2012).

The observed root growth confirms the physiological adaptation of sunflower plants to water stress. While the primary roots slowed down growth rates (Figure 4C), the secondary ones continued to grow mainly near the soil surface. It occurs because these roots seek for layers with O2 availability to meet the minimum requirements for root respiration. Similarly, Araki et al. (2012) reported the formation of secondary and adventitious roots (Figure 4D) rather than primary roots and shoot growth for wheat plants. According to Vartapetian & Jackson (1997), the formation of adventitious roots is common in plants under water excess as an attempt to overcome the O2 shortage. Yasumoto et al. (2011) reported the ability of sunflower plants to produce adventitious roots in moist soils. Orchard & Jessop (1984) stated that such ability increases the tolerance of these plants to water excess during later development stages.

Water excess occurrence and persistence in the soil increased the dry mass of roots near the surface. Grassini et al. (2007) and Yasumoto et al. (2011) also observed significant sunflower root dry matter reduction along with a development of secondary and adventitious roots. However, Grassini et al. (2007) observed that the root biomass was significantly lower for non-shaded plants than for shaded ones, both under water excess stress.

Planting Mexican Sunflower: Learn How To Grow Mexican Sunflower Plant

If you love the look of sunflowers, go ahead and add some Tithonia Mexican sunflower plants to a sunny area in the back of your beds. Planting Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) provides large, showy blooms. Learning how to grow Mexican sunflower is a simple and rewarding task for the gardener who wishes for color in the late season garden.

How to Grow Mexican Sunflower

Reaching no more than six feet and often remaining at just 3 to 4 feet tall, growing Mexican sunflowers can fill your wish for sunflowers in the garden. Consider planting Mexican sunflower as a colorful addition to the water-wise garden area. Let your kids help with the planting too, as seeds of the Tithonia Mexican sunflower plants are large and easy to handle.

This annual grows best in a full sun location and easily tolerates heat and drought conditions.

Plant seeds of Mexican sunflower plants in the ground in spring, when danger of frost has passed. Sow directly into moist soil, pressing the seeds in and wait for germination, which normally occurs in 4 to 10 days. Don’t cover the seeds, as they need light for germination.

When planting Mexican sunflower from seeds in spring, plant them in areas where color in late summer will be needed after summer perennials have started to fade. Growing Mexican sunflowers can provide additional color in the garden. The red, yellow and orange blooms are profuse when you perform necessary Mexican sunflower care.

Allow plenty of room when planting, about two feet between plants, and the Tithonia Mexican sunflower plants will normally stay within their boundaries.

Mexican Sunflower Care

Mexican sunflower care is minimal. They don’t require much in the way of water, nor do they need fertilizing.

Deadhead fading blooms for a late summer explosion of color. Little other care is needed for this vigorous flower. However, Mexican sunflower care may include removal of some plants if they spread to an unwanted area, but growing Mexican sunflowers are normally not invasive. Spreading of Tithonia Mexican sunflower plants can come from dropping seeds of existing plants, but often the birds take care of the seeds before they can re-seed.

Learning how to grow Mexican sunflower is easy, and the cheerful blooms can also be used as cut flowers indoors and on the patio.

The Mexican Sunflower, Bolivian sunflower, tree marigold or the Tithonia plant are considered an annual flowers, native to both Central America and in Mexico, where varieties of the ponytail plant and spineless yucca trees also call home.

Locals refer to it as the “Golden Flower of the Incas” due to its large, showy bursts of daisy-like flowers.

The name “Tithonia” pronounced for the genus came from Greek mythology by a French botanist in 1799. Tithonus was a loved by the dawn-goddess Aurora.

Tithonia Plant Facts

  • Origin: Mexico and Central America
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Botanical Name: Tithonia
  • Common Name: Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower or Nitobe chrysanthemum
  • Plant Type: annual flower
  • Size: 3′ – 6′ feet
  • Flowers: bright orange, red or yellow
  • Bloom: summer until first frost
  • Hardiness: USDA hardiness zone 3 -11
  • Exposure: Full sun or part shade
  • Soil: good well-drained soil
  • Water: Average water needs
  • Fertilizer: all-purpose fertilizer
  • Propagation: seed
  • Pests & Problems: no serious pest problems, deer resistant

The plant grows to a range of anywhere from 36″ inches up to more than 60″ inches in height.

A dwarf selection ‘Fiesta del Sol’ grows about 30″ inches tall and is great for small gardens.

It’s characterized by flashy bright orange, yellow and red flowers showing off their bright hues.

Moreover, the flowers look great as it appears in contrast with its dark green leaves.

Butterflies love to fly around and pollinate Mexican sunflowers. This makes it a good addition to a flower garden if you want it to be visited frequently by butterflies and hummingbirds.

Recommended Reading:

  • Best Butterfly Attracting Plants
  • List of Deer Resistant Annuals

The bright flowers of the Mexican sunflower is a butterfly magnet and a favorite of the Monarch butterfly.

Other varieties of butterflies that sees its nectar as a treat include eastern tiger swallowtail and pipevine swallowtail.

The Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) proves to be a stunner, especially for those who favor sunflowers.

Much like its namesake, the Tithonia diversifolia makes an invaluable, colorful addition to your garden beds and is easy to grow. Here are some ways to grow your Tithonia torch plant beautifully.

NOTE: Another species Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower) is similar in size and growth habitats. The flowers are similar in shape, slightly smaller and red or bright orange flowers.

How To Grow The Mexican Sunflower Tree Plant

The Mexican Sunflowers love full sun, and doesn’t like the cold weather. Plant Tithonia rotundiflora where they receive generous sun all throughout the day. The USDA hardiness zone for growing are 3 – 10.

Adequate soil should suffice in caring for the Tithonia plants; keep a well-drained soil to remove excess moisture. Before planting, put in a good amount of compost for your Mexican Sunflower to grow healthy and strong.

Mexican sunflower plants are drought tolerant making it a great summer plant. Mix in a general-purpose fertilizer as plants grow to promote a healthy surge.

The plant starts blooming 2″ to 3″ inches of beautiful flowers from late summer to fall season.

Carefully remove spent Mexican sunflower blooms deadheading to make room for the new ones, will encourage the plants to grow flowers for a longer time, even producing bright blooms even in late fall.

For the best results, place the Tithonia plants at the back border, and in groups. They can reach anywhere from 36″ to 60″ inches tall upon maturity. Stake plants for straight growth and to prevent them from falling over. When planting in containers, prepare large pots for optimal growth conditions.

Tithonia makes good cut flowers, but handle cut flowers gently as the flower stalks are hollow and brittle.

You can see the Mexican Sunflowers get lots of activity in the video below!

Tithonia “Torch” A Brief History

When new to the world of garden flowers we find new discoveries all the time. Tithonia may be new to many but the “Mexican sunflower plant” has a history since the naming of the Tithonia genus in 1799.

For example, the plant known as Tithonia “Torch” which is still available today was “new” to the plant world in 1951.

  • The plant graced the cover of the January 1951 edition of Popular Gardening Magazine.
  • Torch was an All-America Silver Medal Winner
  • Described as: “Striking, orange-red and easy to grow, Torch is not too tall for the garden and literally enjoys the hot weather.”
  • From Harris Seeds 1951 Catalog: “Torch Tithonia produces a multitude of long-stemmed orange-scarlet blooms often 3″ inches across. The plants grow waist high and start blooming early. As easy to grow as Zinnias; not troubled by insects or diseases. You’ll want this new flower in your garden.”

The editors shared in 1951:

“Tithonias of the past made tall, weedy plants and they flowered late, but ‘Torch’ rarely exceeds 4′ feet and will begin to flower in early summer from spring-sown seed.

Torch Tithonia started to bloom by July 12th and grew up to make a 4′ foot bushy plant with heavy leaves and brilliant orange flowers measuring 4″ inches across and kept coming until cold weather.”

Related Reading:

  • Tips On Growing Mexican Zinnia Plants
  • Tips on Growing the Marigold Flower

Tithonia Plant Propagation

Grow Tithonia Mexican sunflowers from seed. At the onset of cold weather, start them indoors. During warmer months, set them outdoors. Remember keeping the soil moist until the Mexican sunflower seeds sprout is key.

Growing Tithonia From Seed Outside

Start the sowing process once the last frost passes. Soil should reach a temperature of 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

Mark the site well as the seeds might take a longer time to appear (about 10 to 21 days). Cover with shallow soil, about a fourth inch, and space the seeds about 6″ inches apart. The spacing should be around two feet to three feet apart.

Sowing Seed Inside

If cold is not a problem in your area, start Tithonia seeds outside. Otherwise, start them inside about 8 weeks before the last frost.

The seeds should be placed shallowly on the soil surface to allow germination. The germination process takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days with an optimal temperature of 70° degrees Fahrenheit.

You may start sowing from March till April in pots, trays, etc with a propagator or in a warm place for best results.

The young Mexican sunflower seeds should be transferred outdoors after the last frost of spring, at a 20″ inch spacing. Find the sunniest spot in your garden and plant your Mexican Sunflower in light soil.

My Conclusion

If you have space in your yard or a large pot to grow a Mexican sunflower, then I’m sure you’ll have as much pleasure, as I have, in doing so.

The bright red and orange varieties attract an abundance of butterflies and bees. And if you reside where hummingbirds live you’ll be pleased to know that they love to visit these vibrant sunflowers too.

So what is a Mexican Sunflower? The Mexican Sunflower has bright orange or red flowers and grows 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. It’s multi blooms grow on stems coming off a bushy central stalk. The flowers are daisy-like and measure 3 inches in diameter. Ideal for back borders. And loved by pollinators.

Here’s more information about this beautiful sunflower, what its uses are, and how to grow and care for them.

Table of Contents

Scientific Name and Classification of Mexican Sunflowers

Botanical Name

Tithonia Diversifolia

Common Name

Mexican Sunflower

What the Mexican Sunflower Looks Like

Mexican Sunflowers are vigorous and fast-growing. They can grow 4 to 6 feet (60 to 75cm) tall and 3 to 4 feet wide in a season. Each plant has a large central stem that branching stalks come from in a somewhat chaotic, albeit charming way.

The leaves are dark green, large and a cross between a triangular and heart shape. These leaves are serrated slightly coarse. To the touch, the leaves and stems have a fuzzy, soft covering, the underside of the leaves are hairy too.

Mexican sunflowers start flowering from the middle of summer until the frosts of autumn. Each branching stem produces a single 3 inch (7.5cm) flower of bright orange or red petals surrounding a golden yellow disc.

Like most sunflowers, the petals fall, but the golden center disc will remain a while longer. It carries on attracting pollinators and eventually will produce seeds for the following season.

Where to Place Mexican Sunflowers and Their Uses

Mexican Sunflowers are best suited at the back of borders and in large open spaces. They are prolific at growing. They grow tall and their branches spread out at a vigorous rate.

That’s not to say you can’t grow it in a large pot, as I have. Because I contained it, it didn’t grow too big, and I still had the beauty of this sunflower, and all the butterflies it attracted throughout my summer.

You can cut The Mexican Sunflower blooms, just as they are opening, and display them in vases. This will encourage the plant to produce more buds and blooms to enjoy.

Another use for the Mexican Sunflower, and with most sunflowers varieties, is they will clean and cleanse toxins out of the soil. Leaving a better quality of soil for you to start growing again.

Pick Your Mexican Sunflower Seeds

If I’ve enticed you into liking the idea of growing Mexican Sunflowers, and you can’t find the seeds locally, I’ve found them for you on Amazon.

Mexican Sunflower Seeds

Knowing we can get the seeds for sowing, let’s get growing

Basic Gardening Terms

Let’s start with a few gardening terms and what they mean for the Mexican Sunflower.

  • Half-Hardy Annual. The Mexican Sunflower is categorized as Half-Hardy means it cannot withstand the cold weather, so the seeds must be sown indoors when it is still warm, or outside when the fear of frost has passed. Annual means it will grow, live and produce seeds one year.
  • Potting On. To divide seedlings or plants that have outgrown their pots, into their own pots so they have further room to grow and mature.
  • Thinning out. If a number of seedlings are growing in the same growing site, and are growing too close together, remove the other plants and space them out accordingly, to give more room to grow.
  • Hardening Off. 2 weeks before the danger of frost has gone, gradually accustom seedlings that have been grown indoors to the outside world. Do this by placing them out each day for several hours, then bring them in at night. For the second week increase the hours out, until they are out all night and ready to be planted out.
  • Planting Out. Planting seedlings or plants in their growing sites. Tender sunflower seedlings need to be hardened off before planting out when all danger of frost has passed.
  • Dead Heading. The Mexican sunflower grows multiple heads throughout the season. Removing the deadheads encourages new buds and flowers to grow.
  • Companion Planting. Sunflowers can be planted alongside other flowers, herbs, and vegetables. This helps to attract pollinators and good bugs to help prevent infestations and diseases. I’ve written an article about the best companion plants, and what not to plant next to sunflowers. I hope you find it helpful.

How to Grow Mexican Sunflowers

Most sunflowers are easy to grow, and the Mexican Sunflower is no exception, it’s easy to grow too.

If you’ve bought a packet of seeds, with a few instructions on the back, or been gifted seeds from a friend, here are answers to questions about how and when to plant them. And the aftercare they need.

When to Plant Mexican Sunflower Seeds

There are 2 ways you can start seeds off. The first is to sow seeds in pots inside during the middle of spring.

The second is when all fear of frost has gone. Sow straight outside into their well prepared, sunny growing site.

So, let’s start with growing them indoors. Heres what to do…

How to Grow Mexican Sunflowers Seeds in Pots Inside.

In the middle of spring, about 4 weeks before the last frost has gone, fill small clean pots with clean compost, or soil and water them.

Place 2 seeds on the surface of the moistened soil and gently push them into the soil so they are just covered up.

Place the pots on a sunny window sill, or in a greenhouse and keep the soil damp. When the seedlings have grown their second true leaves, ease the plants out of their pots and gently separate each plant at its roots.

  • Mexican sunflower seeds
  • Mexican sunflower seedlings
  • Young Mexican sunflower plants

What the Mexican Sunflower seeds, seedling, and young plant look like

Replant into separate pots, with more soil. Place them back in their sunny place and keep them moist with water.

After hardening off your seedlings, and when all fear of frost has passed, plant on your Mexican Sunflower seedlings into a sunny, well prepared, well-drained, weed-free growing site, or into large pots.

If the soil you have is poor, dig in some slow-release plant food, or add a little liquid fertilizer when you water them.

Mexican Sunflowers grow quick and bushy, so distance your seedlings about 36 inches (90cm) between each plant.

This gives them room to grow, and air to circulate around each plant. This will give it a chance to fight off diseases and gives good bugs room to visit and help protect the plants for you.

Keep your Mexican Sunflower well watered, try not to let them dry out or stand in a puddle.

As the flowers appear, cut them for display, or deadhead them. This will encourage new buds and flowers to appear.

How to Grow Mexican Sunflower Seeds Outside

Mexican Sunflowers need a sunny place to grow. Prepare your growing site a few weeks, or a month before you want to start sowing your seeds. This would be a good time to dig in any organic or leaf mulch you’ve gathered throughout the winter months.

Sunflowers can tolerate growing in bad quality soil, but if you still feel it is poor quality, then dig in some slow-release fertilizer, or use liquid plant feed once a week.

When all fear of frost has passed, water the growing site and place 2 to 3 Mexican Sunflower seeds onto the surface of the soil where you want your plants to grow. Gently push the seeds into the soil, so they are just covered up.

Protect your seeds with netting or wire mesh to stop critters digging them up and feasting on them.

When your Mexican Sunflowers seedlings start to appear and have grown their second true leaves, leave the strongest in place and thin out the rest to about 36 inches (96cm) apart.

Water them in, and if you feel your local wildlife wants to munch on them, protect them.

If you have too many seedlings left over and haven’t the heart to dispose of them, pot them up and gift them to family, friends, and neighbors.

How to Care for Your Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflowers, as with many sunflowers can withstand a bit of drying out, but as a rule, I’d advise keeping them well watered.

Try to avoid overwatering and don’t leave them in a puddle. Water gently at the base of the plant, so not to dislodge the soil around the roots.

Keep the area around your sunflowers weed free. Weeds will grow fast and suck all the water and nutrients away from your plants.

If weeds are a big problem, use mulch, or weed prohibiter to keep in moisture, whilst keeping weeds at bay.

Watch out for pests and problems. Gather up pesky creatures as soon as you see them. Such as cutworms, snails, slugs, and caterpillars, and put them in another area.

Cut away any diseased or grub infested leaves and discard them. This will stop the problem from spreading to other plants.

A Mexican Sunflower in all its glory

Harvesting Mexican Sunflower Seeds

Because the Mexican sunflower produces a multitude of blooms and attracts an abundance of pollinators, they also create a whole lot of seeds.

The seeds come after the flower has died back. They are dark greyish in color and triangular shaped.

Mexican Sunflower seeds are very easy to collect. Hold the dried flower in your hand and gently brush and pull your fingers over the seeds, they will loosen and fall out into your hand.

image of this coming soon

I usually collect the amount I need to plant the following year. I also collect enough to give as gifts for my family and friends too. The rest I happily leave for the birds and wildlife to munch on at their leisure.

How to Store Mexican Sunflower Seeds

Remove any debris from the seeds such as plant matter, dried leaves, and stalk. Clean the seeds and air dry thoroughly.

You can store the seeds in sealed paper bags, envelopes, sealed plastic bags or containers, or in a sealed tin.

Top Tip: Remember to write the name and date of your seeds on what you’re storing them in. Store them in a dry place, away from the clutches of wildlife.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor when you plant and grow them next year.

Take Away Mexican Sunflower Planting Guide and Chart

Mexican Sunflower take away planting guide and chart

This is a summarized chart of how to sow, grow, and care for Mexican sunflowers. Please note, this watermarked version is free to download. it is for your own personal use to print, pin or post. and not for ….commercial gain or usage.

Mexican sunflowers attract a multitude of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. If you can’t find the seeds locally, I’ve found them for you on Amazon below, as well as a link to my unwatermarked planting guide download as a gift for yourself – or another sunflower lover!

Why Not Add My Mexican Sunflower Guide
Without The Watermark

Helpful Sunflower Guides and Articles

I’ve written many articles that will help you choose, sow and grow the most gorgeous sunflowers. Most have quick and easy to use take away diagrams, guides, and charts for you to download, pin, post or print out. Here they are, I hope you find them helpful.

31 Most Wonderful Sunflower to Grow. With Height Guide

The Best Sunflower Companion Plants, Vegetables and Flowers

Mexican sunflowers may bush out and take up more space than a single stemmed, single-headed iconic sunflower, but that’s never stopped me enjoying them. They seem wild and magnificent all at the same time.

They attract more butterflies and bees than most sunflowers I’ve grown and look stunning as cut flowers arranged in my vases. They’re easy to grow and can be contained in a large pot, so I can place it where I want it.

The Mexican Sunflower brings me so much joy throughout my summer. And if I’ve given you good reason to grow some too, I hope they bring you as much joy as they do me.

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