Category Archives: Sunflowers

Titan Up

The Titan Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is a truly fun and astounding plant. Capable of 12-plus feet in height and a flower of up to two feet across, the Titan certainly lives up to its name. Deep yellow color and old-fashioned appearance make for a striking border, fence cover or backdrop.

The Titan seeds we harvested in the fall have now been dried, slow-cured and germination tested. Finally, they’re ready to bring another generation into the world.

Our plants handled the heat well and didn’t require a lot of water, which is actually not surprising when you consider that the sunflower is indigenous to the Southwest deserts and mountains of southern New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico. Southwest growers will experience as close to a trouble-free grow as you can hope for, given the harsh conditions of these hot, cold and arid regions.

Sunflowers tend to attract a lot of aphids. While this characteristic has its obvious drawbacks, it also makes the plants useful as a sacrificial barrier or decoy to keep aphids off the main garden. Secondarily, a bonus of aphids can help to draw ladybugs, or serve as a food source to establish ladybugs. Our growing region tends to have a lot of wild ladybugs that seem to be naturally attracted to carrots, sorghum and okra, at least in our gardens.

Most casual gardeners will achieve 8-10 feet tall and one to 1.5 foot blossom diameter. Well-fed, cultivated, groomed and isolated specimen plants can reach over 12 feet tall with 2-foot blossoms.

Torch Your Garden

The Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia Rotundifolia) is a different plant than the better-known Common Sunflower and its developed varieties (Helianthus Annuus). This flower doesn’t produce the same kind of edible seeds, but it does live and thrive just about anywhere it’s temperate. Poor soil, little water and hot sun just make these tough, beautiful flowers even happier, it seems at times.

Mexican Red Torch Sunflower

We have these plants in the full Southern Arizona sunlight for 11-12 hours a day, and all they have done is flourish in temperatures as high as 120 degrees in June and July of 2016. Nary a wilt among them all.

The big bonus is that Tithonia are irresistable to important pollinators like bumblebees, solitary native bees, honey bees, butterflies (Mexican Sunflower is a favorite of the Monarch butterfly) and hummingbirds. And they do well in more temperate climates like the Midwest and Atlantic seaboard, as well. They will need absolutely full sun and little water in those places, however.

In our opinion, you can’t find more trouble-free and effusive color anywhere else. And at the end of the season it will re-seed itself and can be tilled under to improve the soil’s carbon/nitrogen content and its texture. Leaves and flowers are edible as greens, also.

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