Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~50
Germination tested 11/2022: 92%
Life cycle: Annual or tender perennial
Also called Mexican sunflower, it is actually native to a broad region including Florida, Louisiana, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. From being grown as an ornamental around the world, it has become naturalized in various locales. In Africa, it has been recorded up to an altitude of 1,580 m above sea level.
Plants are perennial in their native habitat, where they grow up to 15 feet tall(!) with orange or red flowers. In USDA zones cooler than Zone 10 it can only be grown as an annual. Many insects use the flowers as a nectar source, including migrating monarch butterflies. Leaves, despite the epithet, are deltoid to lanceolate, occasionally lobed.
This vividly colored variety, when grown as an annual, may reach heights up to 8 feet and spread to 4 feet wide. The flaming orange flowers are 3 inches across. Its long stems make it excellent as a cut flower.