Tithonia rotundifolia, better known as Mexican sunflower, grows in the Heritage Rose Garden, and if you go out there, you will see the brilliant orange-red flowers along with all the butterflies it attracts.
Growing about 4 feet tall, more or less, Tithonia loves summer heat and bright sun. Covered with 2- to 3-inch blooms, this summer annual will beacon all who love bright colors.
This old-time plant is often handed down to admirers by way of sharing seeds. It is easy to plant and grow.
Plant the seeds in spring and watch them grow rapidly to reach a 4-by-4-foot area. Once you get them, just save some seeds every year in case they don't reseed for you the next spring. If the soil is undisturbed, they will often reseed and come up year after year.
Tithonia is a good plant to let children plant. They can handle the little dark seeds that look like small sunflower seeds. Like other sunflowers, they attract seed-loving birds.
Plant one where you can observe it from inside and watch all the color and activity around it.