monkeybelle(7A NJ (Camden County))August 4, 2012

This is my first year growing tithonia. I started from seed indoors, planted outdoors in late May. I don't recall the variety, but it was a Burpee seed pack, and allegedly they were supposed to grow to about 3' high. Well, they are now close to 7', and not a single bloom or bud. They just keep getting taller. They get watered well once per day, twice if the temp is really high. The area they are in get some morning shade, with full sun from noon-late afternoon.

Any suggestions on what I did wrong, or what I could do to force a bloom? It looks like I have giant weeds in the garden!


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In my experience growing tithonia, it seems to thrive best when getting morning sun and afternoon shade. The foliage tends to burn when they get too much sun.

In fact, I just pulled my tithonia that was getting the most direct sun because both flowers and foliage looked horrible. My best plant is between 7-8 feet tall with lots of blooms and gets a good portion of afternoon shade.

I also added osmocote slow release fertilizer to all the plants at the beginning of the season.

I hope you get some buds/blooms soon! Tony

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 12:41AM
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terrene(5b MA)

You didn't do anything wrong! This is usually a large annual. Your plants actually sound like they are thriving. I'm surprised you don't have blooms yet since you are in zone 7. Mine just started blooming this week, but there are only 2 whole flowers! Don't worry though, they will get lots of blooms and the pollinators do indeed LOVE them.

There are some shorter cultivars of Tithonia rotundifolia - Fiesta del Sol, and a new one called Twinkle, as well as one with golden flowers.

You never know with gardening sometimes, plants don't often grow in a predictable way!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 3:41AM
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I'd stop being so nice to them. Mine are blooming like crazy here in North Texas in not very great soil, with little water and it's over 100 every day.

They are being attacked at the moment by some black aphids and do have a lot of burned leaves from full sun, so they may get a hair cut soon but they can certainly take a little adversity!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:16AM
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terrene(5b MA)

On second thought - have you fertilized them at all? A high nitrogen fertilizer can cause excessive foliage growth, and less blooms. I would also cut back on the watering, and slow the growth down and them harden a little.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 3:06AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'm wondering if last year produced a bad seed crop. The three plants that I had growing in mostly full sun looked so bad, both the foliage and the flowers, that I pulled the plants up. They didn't grow nearly as large as usual, and the leaves were blotchy and droopy. I've got one plant in a mostly shady spot, and it's looked much better, good enough that I left it alone. The extreme heat we had in June made them miserable, no matter how much I watered them. I may not even try to grow any next year, put something much more heat tolerant in that front spot.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:14PM
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I planted seeds last year I got from a trade & this year had 2 volunteers(I dead headed the plants frequently to prevent massive re-seeding!). One is about 6 ft tall & the other one is about 10 ft tall! I think one I planted was Fiesta del Sol but both are enormous! The 6 ft plant started blooming first & is now looking very bedraggled!

They both are attracting every kind of BF that flies through my yard (there were multiple queens, GFs, a GST, & a PVST on them when I took the picture) & are one of the best fall nectar flowers for monarchs...I found this out last year!
I didn't fertilize mine & they are both in full all day sun but are watered every other day!
Hope your's start blooming soon but if not...maybe they will be fall bloomers & great for migration time!
Good luck,

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 5:58PM
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monkeybelle(7A NJ (Camden County))

Lila, that is lovely, and what I had envisioned (although on a smaller scale.) You can see that is not what I got!

Terrene, I have not fertilized at all. However, this is a new bed and we had mixed some compost in when we dug it, because our soil is so bad. Maybe that's the problem? I have cut back on watering, however, we've been getting some pretty intense rain every couple days. They just keep getting bigger after those storms!

Sherry, I'm with you...if I don't get any blooms, I'm not going to try again next year. I don't have the space to harbor plants that don't do their jobs! Especially when they are so big. Although I might give it a try if I was able to find some already-established plants.

I'll just wait and see. Hopefully something happens soon! Thanks, all.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 9:02AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

At least the leaves on yours look good - it'll undoubtedly bloom soon.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:43AM
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I agree with Sherry...it looks like it will bloom soon...so don't give up yet!!!
I counted BFs on my 2 yesterday & there were at least 2 dozen nectaring & 4 different species. I would love to have a smaller Tith!
I planted a new perennial for my BF garden last fall & it is getting almost as much attention as the Tiths right now. It is Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstonne'. It is about 4-4 1/2 ft tall. I should have planted it in a bed that gets my irrigation because with the 100+ temps, I'm having to water it every other day by hand or it starts to get droopy! I bought mine at a local nursery after seeing it at an organic garden center that "sadly" went out of business!
The BFs seem to like it early in the morning & late afternoon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne'

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:48AM
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monkeybelle(7A NJ (Camden County))

I am holding out for hope here! I have noticed they are getting bushier at the base and am praying that is a good sign!

That rudbeckia is a nice yellow...I might need to find that one next year.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 11:45AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Those are very healthy gorgeous plants! Foliage looks good, sometimes the foliage gets sketchy on Tithonia. Mine are about that size, and they have about a dozen blooms now, instead of only 2. Bet yours will bloom soon.

Do you see any buds forming at the tips? Also, if you want you can pinch the main growth tip on the tallest stalks, without much effect on the plant.

If you are sure that the packet was supposed to be a short cultivar, then it's likely that Burpee has mis-labeled the seeds, or there wasn't adequate quality control in the pollination or collection of the seed. I grow a lot of things from seed and mis-labeling happens from time to time. Also, there is a natural genetic variation in seedlings that is hard to control.

Here's what mine look like right now - they are doing great this year so far!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Does anyone grow the yellow Tithonia? Is just as good as the orange for attracting butterflies?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 10:05PM
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