A photoblog about gardening in the confines of Brooklyn, NY

Mexican Sunflower

One of the things I’ve always been cautious about is getting anything “too big” for the patio.  For one, we don’t have that much space, and purely from a growers standpoint, the roots don’t have much space to settle in the small pots and containers that we grow them in.  Even if they manage to hold themselves upright, often the limited soil results in a stunted plant.  I’ve always loved the strength and power of a tall blooming sunflower, but frankly didn’t think it was a good match for the shallow pots and limited space on the patio.  I didn’t want to tie them up, and it all just seemed like it would result in  a failed experiment.

For two seasons now I’ve planted Dwarf Sunflowers, and they are fun for awhile, but tend to die off early and never really impress.  So, this spring when I was seed shopping I came across what looked like a perfect solution, the Mexican Sunflower!  As the Burpee seed pack reads:

Tithonia, Sundance

Orange, daisy-like flowers.
Also known as Mexican Sunflower. Large, showy, compact plants bear radiant scarlet-orange, daisy-like 3″ flowers. Plant in the back of the annual flower border. Hummingbirds and butterflies love them. Very heat tolerant.

Product Details

lifecycle: Annual
Full Sun
36  inches
14-16  inches
Sowing Method:
Direct Sow
Bloom Duration:
10  weeks


Great, so a sunfloweresque plant that grows a bushy 3 feet, I’m in!  Threw a few seeds in a 12″ pot with about 10″ of soil and waited for the magic.  Like any sunflower it germinated strongly, with robust cotyledons.  And then it proceeded to grow.  And grow.  And grow. And GROW!

I wish I did a better job documenting its marathon run of patio dominance, but there was just nothing to take pictures of at the time.  Instead of its marketed “flowery and bushy” nature, we had a tall, mangly, and weedish looking plant with not a flower to be seen.  I think it didn’t create its first bloom until it was around 8 feet tall.  Yes, 8 feet.  I’ve scoured the web, and read reports of 6 foot specimens.  Well, to cut the story short, mine is currently at around 13 feet tall.  It’s breached the balcony of the neighbors above us, and it’s just a giant of a plant, in a tiny tiny pot.  I feed it about 4-5 gallons of water every day!  It wilts without it.  It never really flowered as expected, but as of this posting it looks like there are around a dozen blooms in the making.  That said, it’s now early October, it’s getting colder, and sadly, the season is nearing its end.  I apologize for the very unprofessional looking collage I took to best exemplify the sheer size of this creature.  It’s 8 pics photoshoped together (rather poorly).   Luckily, the sunflower allowed for a few good closeup photos this season, which I’ve posted below.

13 Foot Mexican Sunflower


And these are its brilliant orange flowers:

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