Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Orange in the Garden: Gulf Fritillaries and Tithonia

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotunifolia)

Tithonia seeds were sprinkled in many spots around the garden. Some have made compact plants. Some grew to 6 feet tall, requiring a stake to remain upright.

Gulf Fritillaries nectar here on many other flowers, including blue porterweed, zinnias of all colors and Pride of Barbados, in the garden, but Tithonia is definitely a favorite.

The host plant for Gulf Frit caterpillars is passion vine, growing not in the garden here but nearby at woods edge, intertwined here with wild muscadine vines.

Flamboyant orange radiates warmth and energy. Terra cotta, peach or apricot are usually more acceptable in more restrained gardens than mine.


  1. I only heard of Mexican sunflowers recently, being mostly a vegetable gardener. They are lovely a real antidote to a grey day, like today. It was here http://www.garden.ie/albums.aspx?id=77 I have a page on www.garden.ie and enjoy touring other peoples gardens. It is inspiring me to put in a border of some kind. I did have one once but builders got it.

  2. The only thing missing here when I visit each morning is us having a cup of coffee together while we tour! I am having mine here.

    Glad to see the tithonia. The only other time I raised them they were in yellow and just got about 36 inches tall. Mine this year are over 6 feet! They are called 'Torch'. Finally they are blooming but up so high that I couldn't appreciate the blooms until one of our trusty wind storms blew them over.

    Did you not cover your seeds at all? Mine took forever to come up and so are blooming pretty late for me. Frost will hit in early October.

    I love the butterfly shots. We are having the Gulfs here too.

  3. Sounds like a plant I need in my yard! Thanks for visiting my blog. You'll have to teach me how you get those large-sized photos on your Blogger-run blog; I can't run anything larger than 400 x 264 pixels!

  4. More great butterfly shots. I have grown Mexican sunflower in the past but it has been years ago. I will try them again next year. I love that bright color.

  5. I have tons of Torch tithonias. They are a definite favorite of all types of butterflies. Any time the sun is shining, there are tons of bumblebees, Gulf Frits, and various types of swallowtails, plus other types of butterflies on these flowers. They are one of the best nectaring flowers you can grow for winged beauties.

  6. I love them and wish the seeds I scattered had germinated...perhaps they did but I missed them and they didn't get a little water when we had a dry spell.
    Next year for sure. The fritillary is a beutiful butterfly. gail

  7. Well NellJean, thank you for commenting on my blog! What luscious flowers and butterflies you have! So do you live in or near Dothan? I have a high school friend that now lives there. Not sure how large a city it is, so not sure how good the chances are that you know her, especially since she hasn't lived there all that long.

    Thanks for making "Subscribe by E-mail" available! ;-)

  8. Wow! The butterflies on the porterweed on the header picture look like flowers too!

    Beautiful pictures.

    That puppy is really growing. How old is she now? Is she still a big help in the garden?


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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