Tithonia ‘Red Torch’

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Tithonia—a rare specimen in our neck of the woods

It’s rare to come across a Tithonia plant in Cincinnati—you’re more likely to find one in the desert Southwest or some place else that’s hot and dry. It’s commonly known as Mexican Sunflower, so you know it’s a plant you don’t see very often. In addition to being a great heat-lover in the garden it’s a great variety for cutting.

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Big, bold blooms are great for cutting

Our Blue Ribbon ‘Red Torch’ has what it takes to look good in a vase. These brilliant red blooms stretch 3-½ inches across, and each has a bright yellow button for the eye. Strong, thick stems hold the flowers up high so everyone can get a good look at them in an arrangement.

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Blooming away in the dry heat of high summer

As far as the garden bed is concerned, this plant should feel right at home in Cincinnati over a typical hot, dry summer. Tithonia tolerates heat like a champ. Arizona gardeners routinely talk about it—we’ve seen situations where plants in this genus survive gravel-covered areas that even Agave will not survive. Tithonia is a summer workhorse when more common flowers sag under the high temperatures.

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Nectar-rich ‘Red Torch’ attracts hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies

In addition to providing abundant color, ‘Red Torch’ is a nectar-rich feeding station for beneficial insects. This includes pollinators like hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies, especially. Another plus: chewing pests seem to dislike the plant’s flavor and leave it alone.

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Thick, strong stems hold flowers straight up above the foliage

We’re always partial to daisy-like flowers that bloom in the summer. Tithonia likes to bloom in the second half of the season, all the way to frost. Plants are bushy in nature, reaching about four feet by three feet above the ground when fully mature and growing to fill a space quickly with a lot of branching stems. Each stem is thick, strong, and straight. Flowers appear above the foliage, right where we want them to be so we can easily see them.

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These red blooms have a lot of orange in them

That brilliant red makes them easy to see as well—actually, it’s a red-orange. Most Tithonia varieties are orange but this is a red, a deeper shade than the standard. There’s still a lot of orange in it, enhanced by the yellow button eye. Plus the blooms are surrounded by velvety dark green foliage that makes them pop.

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Dark green foliage makes the red flowers pop

‘Red Torch’ pairs nicely with traditional Zinnias. We also find it to be a fun surprise in the cutting garden or as part of a meadow tableau.

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Mix it with Zinnias for a fun surprise in the garden