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How to Grow Mexican Sunflower

A tall, cheerful flower, this annual (grows just one year) offers a fun way to fill the back of a border or add instant color to any landscape. Mexican sunflower produces bright dahlialike flowers in orange, yellow and brilliant red. It also makes a good cut flower.

Tips:
You may need to stake plants, especially taller varieties or those in windy areas.

Mexican sunflower reaches heights of 2 to 5 feet.

Warnings:
Don't overfertilize Mexican sunflower, or it will become floppy, with more foliage than blooms.

Steps:

1. Choose a site with average to poor, well-drained soil in full sun.

2. Plant seeds directly in soil after your region's last average frost date. Or start seeds indoors six to eight weeks earlier.

3. Thin plants to about 2 feet apart.

4. Keep soil evenly moist, but don't overwater - this flower likes it a little on the dry side.

5. Trim faded flowers to promote longer blooming.

6. Fertilize every 8 to 10 weeks, or work in a slow-release fertilizer (or plenty of compost) at planting time.

7. Tear out and discard plants in fall, after frost fells them.