From Seed to Stunning: How Mexican Sunflowers Can Transform Your Garden

mexican sunflower seed review
mexican sunflower seeds review Seed Needs
Seed Needs’ gorgeous, vibrant Mexican sunflower, or Tithonia rotundifolia. Image by Seed Needs.

This page contains affiliate links for items discussed. If you take action after clicking a link, I may earn some money, which will (probably) go to the cat food fund. Thank you!

This is a review of Seed Needs’ Mexican Sunflowers packet seeds. If you’re like me and interested in trying new flowers and seeds, this Mexican sunflower seeds review article is for you!

Verdict

Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) seeds from Seed Needs are a terrific addition to your garden. They grow strongly, they bloom profusely, their bloom season is quite long (here in Zone 8b, they’re still budding out late October) and their deep orange flowers are unmatched and make terrific unique cuttings to bring inside!

This page contains affiliate links for items discussed. If you take action after clicking a link, I may earn some money, which will (probably) go to the cat food fund. Thank you!

Why Mexican Sunflowers?

The Challenge

Two summers ago, I developed A Mission: find some plants to grow on the top of our 8′ high boulder retaining wall, against a fenceline. This is a tricky gardening area for me, as the bed is 40′ long, 2′ wide, it doesn’t really have soil so much as it has contruction fill posing as ‘soil.’ Additionally, it’s not easy to water. My watering hose’s length barely reaches.

The requirements for these plants and flowers were: 1) that they be perennials, 2) drought-tolerant and neglect-tolerant and 3) they feature pretty blooms.

seed needs mexican sunflower seeds review

Seed Needs Mexican Sunflower seeds

These are the same seeds I’ve now purchased twice.

If you plant the seeds as directed (with my help if needed) you’ll be rewarded with a season of amazing blooms!

Seed Description

After some research, I decided to try the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).

  • It grows to a height of 5′ the first season.
  • Its bloom time is extra long: mid-October, it’s still budding and blooming for me in Zone 8b.
  • It makes a terrific cut flower, with long-lasting blooms.
  • With its deep, warm orange blooms, It’s a great and exotic complement to so many other flowers and plants in the garden.

This packet of Mexican sunflowers is produced by “Seed Needs” a company that markets on Amazon.com. I’ve found that, sadly, most gardening centers carry only the most popular of garden seeds. Mexican sunflowers are, alas, not exactly common seeds. Along with local true nurseries, Amazon.com has a terific selection of not-so-common flowers and plants.

These are heirloom, open-pollinated seeds. Each packet contains about 100 seeds. They are not genetically modified (GMO.)

Quick Facts from the maker

  • Type: Flower
  • Bloom Color: Orange
  • Height: 5′ to 6′ Tall
  • Width: 18″ Spread
  • Season: Annual
  • Zones: All
  • Environment: Full sun

Initial Impressions:

The seeds appeared healthy to me, as they rolled out of the paper packet into my waiting palm. Sometimes, SeedNeeds bundles two seed packets, sometimes just one seed packet.

Planting and Germination

When I started my “seed-a-pallooza” in March 2023, it was really my first serious foray into growing from seeds. I made some mistakes and probably didn’t optimize the environment for my seedlings.

As this photograph documents, of all the seeds I started in mid-March, these Mexican Sunflower seeds from Seed Needs were the first to germinate and visibly sprout above the surface. While I was a little disappointed these commercial seeds beat my own hand-harvested seeds, I reaped the rewards of many gorgeous flowering plants. This was probably at the 3 week mark.

mexican sunflowers from seed
Two weeks after sowing, these tithonias were the first seeds to germinate and sprout for me in 2023. Image by author

Growth and Development

These seeds will begin to germinate within 7 to 10 days after sowing. Plants will grow to a mature height of roughly 5 to 6 feet tall and can be spaced about 12 to 18 inches apart from one another.

Sunflowers grow long taproots and may rot if the roots become waterlogged. 

A Monarch butterfly alighting atop a Mexican Sunflower. Image by Marc Kummel, flickr
A Monarch butterfly alighting atop a Mexican Sunflower.
Image by Marc Kummel, flickr

Plant Health and Vigor

Overall, these are very strong growers. They develop strong ‘trunks’ to support many branches and offshoots that develop into flower buds.

mexican sunflowers seeds review
Mexican sunflowers, the plants with the orange blooms, getting along with Dahlias, Dianthus, and (even taller) Cosmos. This picture taken October 14th, 2023. Image by author

Bloom or Yield

I noticed that Mexican sunflowers will grow to whatever size their roots are allowed to spread. If kept in containers less than 2′ in diameter, they won’t grow above 18″ tall. They will bloom, of course.

If you’re able to give Tithonia a spot in-ground, that’s when they’ll realize their true growth potential! In the image below, I planted two small seedlings in a half wooden barrel, about 30″ in diameter, 24″ deep. They grew to about 4′ tall, and bloomed profusely during the summer.

  • Keep them in a container, they will grow only so large. The plants I transplanted to a wooden half barrel grew to about ‘ tall, about 14″ around.
  • Transplant or plant them in an in-ground garden, and they will grow quite large. The plants I transplanted to my open garden area grew to at lease 5′ tall, and 20″ in diameter.

Mexican sunflowers have no real fragrance or aroma.

tithonia rotundifolia or mexican sunflower grows easily from seed
Tithonia rotundifolia or mexican sunflower grows easily from seed. Image by Seed Needs

Stakes may be necessary to support your Tithonias, only one stalk supports many trunks and dozens of buds and blooms. If needed, I use simple, decorative panel trellises for them to lean up against.

Do Mexican sunflowers come back every year?

mexican sunflower sharing a half wooden barrel with milkweed and 5 hollyhock starts

This depends on your growing Zone. They are considered to be annuals up to Zone 8. Zone 9 and higher (the warmer zones) and they can be perennials. They are called Mexican sunflowers, so you’d expect they’d thrive in warmer zones.

Are Mexican sunflowers hard to grow?

mexican sunflowers from seed

No, they’re not hard to grow. As a matter of fact, Mexican sunflowers were the first seeds to germinate and sprout for me in March 2023.

Overall Performance

I was pretty satisfied with the germination rate of the seeds. A vast majority of them grew up strongly, and, lacking garden/container space, I gifted a number of them to friends and family.

These truly are very robust growers. They seemed to transplant well from seedling cups, to potting up into containers of various sizes, and to the in-ground garden bed.

mexican sunflower sharing a half wooden barrel with milkweed and 5 hollyhock starts
My pair of Mexican sunflowers sharing a half wooden barrel with milkweed and 5 hollyhock starts. They don’t seem to be real estate hogs, milkweed and hollyhocks are able to grow alongside. Image by author

Bees definitely appreciated Mexican sunflowers in my gardens.

Orange is my favorite color. The blooms of the Mexican sunflower are a deep, luxurious reddish orange. So much so that my camera doesn’t do them justice: in most of my photos, they look more yellow, which is not how they present in reality.

Note, too: As of writing, November 1st, they are still standing strong and sporting their bright orange blooms. Winter will come before these Mexican sunflowers will quit.

Pros

  • Vigorous, robust growing plants!
  • The deepest orange you’ll come across!
  • Ridiculously long bloom time! Did I mention they’re still blooming in November for me in Zone 8b?
  • Makes a super cut flower to bring inside.

Cons

  • I don’t have complaints about these seeds or the flowers they become. The germination rate was above 50%, I didn’t keep track.
  • When choosing Mexican sunflower, I was under the impression, given the first website, that they were perennials in some environments. While I remain hopeful that my Mexican sunflowers will return in the spring, I’ve read in almost every other source that these are indeed annuals, not perennials. This isn’t a knock on the seeds, just an expectation that’s probably not going to be met.

Tips and Recommendations

These make great cut flowers to bring into the house and put into a vase. Beware, though, that the stem just under the flower is hollow like a straw. If it bends there, it’ll be droopy.

While this might not truly be a “con” beware of the size these plants can reach. Give them plenty of room in the open garden, or other plants will be lost in the Tithonia forest!

While they benefit from moderate watering, they claim to be somewhat drought-resistant. The difficult part is that they need a good watering until they’re established. I think if you took the seedlings and potted them up to a half-gallon container, and let them develop there for a month, and then planted in in-ground or in a large container, that would “establish” the plants, and your watering needs would diminish.

I gave my Mexican sunflowers two balanced NPK fertilizations during the summer.

What’s Next

These are fun seeds to grow. If given a large (2′ or larger in diameter) they will do the best they can to occupy all of the soil available and grow as large as they can. You can order a packet or two of Seed Needs’ Mexican sunflower seeds on amazon!

Rating:

  • 5 out of 5 stars!

Photo of author

Author

After years of denying it, Donald finally admits one passion in life is gardening. More specifically: growing seeds, plants, flowers and edibles and helping them to be the best possible. Neighbors call him a Green Thumb. He lives in Western Washington with his wife of 24+ years and three cats.

1 thought on “From Seed to Stunning: How Mexican Sunflowers Can Transform Your Garden”

Leave a Comment