Just a bit more exotic than your average sunflower, tithonias are worth a try in a sheltered garden.
There are about ten species of tithonia, all native to Central America and the south west of the USA, but just one, T. rotundifolia, commonly cultivated. A Mexican native, it is a tall, shrubby annual with large, roughly hairy or felted, lobed leaves. To be frank, it is a rather coarse plant but that very coarseness is a redeeming feature when it is used with cannas, dahlias and ricinus in a subtropical planting scheme. The flowers are spectacular too, up to 10cm across and of a rich orange, with slightly paler disc florets. They are rather like singe dahlias but have greater substance. Each bloom is long lasting and they attract butterflies, especially Monarchs in the USA.
They are not particularly difficult to grow but they dislike wet and cold so delay sowing till April if you do not have ideal conditions. Sow at 20c and transplant the seedlings into well drained compost in pots and plant out after the risk of frost has passed. A sunny, sheltered spot is essential, then, with good watering and feeding, plants can grow 1.5-2m high. ‘Torch’ is a selection that is slightly more compact than the species.
To keep plants looking good it is well worth removing old flowers. Old, lower leaves wither and turn black and in autumn the leaves often shrivel, leaving the last flowers shining on gawky skeletons.
In warm climates, this can be a wonderful plant, but where it struggles it is less satisfactory.