This annual is one of the easier to grow, reseeding itself about as faithfully as the common sunflowers that grow wild all over around here. The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) doesn't look anything like regular sunflowers, but is related. It does well in partial shade, but needs a little extra water, making it completely impractical for full sun exposure. The leaves are soft and velvet-like, with the short "fur" covering the stems as well. Even the large petals are velvet-like in appearance. The seeds tend to germinate late in the spring and the plants do not bloom until late summer.
The flowers are magnificent, usually sporting a day-glo orange color, but ranging from deep gold to almost red. The center is usually gold. Like all sunflowers, this one usually opens the large outer petals, then the small flowers in the center open in sequential fashion, but once in a while a bloom will open center first, with the petals still rolled up in little tubes. Bees and butterflies spend a lot of time at these flowers. The seed heads are very spiny and I usually don't collect the seeds, just smash the whole thing into the ground so they can germinate the following summer.