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What is a Mexican Sunflower?

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  • Written By: Sarah Sullins
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 27 June 2018
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The Mexican sunflower is an annual plant that produces bright orange flowers in the heat of summer. This flower tolerates a lot and is generally good for those who are new to gardening and for children who wish to take care of a plant. It is a large plant, so it is typically planted at the back of a garden or along a wall or border.

As the name suggests, the Mexican sunflower is a plant that is native to Mexico. It is from the daisy family and its scientific name is Tithonia rotundifolia. Its scientific name comes from a Greek myth about the goddess of the dawn, Eos, who captured the Trojan prince Tithonus because she loved him so much.

A Mexican sunflower grows to a large size, generally about 6 feet (1.8 m) high. Its width is usually about 3 feet (0.9 m). The leaves that grow off the end of the long stems are shaped like spades and feel fuzzy. Typically, the leaves will grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) long. The texture of the leaves protects the plant from deer, which seem to dislike the fuzziness.

Flowers appear at the top of the Mexican sunflower and generally are bright orange. They can grow up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide. Most of the time, a flower that is in bloom will stay open for up to a week and a half. This time span makes the flowers good for cutting and placing in vases.

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The Mexican sunflower is thought to be a great plant for attracting butterflies to a garden. It blooms during the hottest parts of summer, so it is able to provide sweet nectar to butterflies during a time when other flowers may be waiting out the heat. To keep butterflies in a garden, though, the garden will need more than just this type of flower in it.

Mexican sunflowers are annual plants, which means they must be planted every year. After all danger of frost is past, the seeds can be planted outside in a sunny, fertile area. Seeds also can be planted inside about six weeks before the last frost and then transplanted outside. These flowers tolerate almost anything, from shade to neglect, but they do best in soil that is well drained, fertile and receives sun all of the time.

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