Tithonia 'Yellow Torch' is covered in three inch deep yellow flowers which attract pollinators. Photos by Doug Oster
I love 'Yellow Torch.'Last summer I had a chance to see the wonderful garden of Emily Willets from Sewickley. In the back of her landscape was a huge tithonia 'Torch' plant which had to be 16 feet tall. 'Torch' was a 1951 All-America Selection and is one of my favorite plants. As is often the case with gardeners, we bonded over the plant, comparing notes on vigor, size and blooms.
She started the plants from seed and sold the seedlings at her garden club's plant sale. This incredible plant has fell out of favor with gardeners, but is on the rebound. I have begun to see some seeds at garden centers and even found some plants last year at Hahn Nursery.
Then I got excited to tell her about something even more rare, 'Yellow Torch.' I had stumbled onto the seeds a few years ago in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. It grows as tall as it's cousin, attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees in the same way too but has bright yellow flowers which light up the garden.
When I ordered seeds this year, I added an extra packet to send to Emily and she grew them with great success and found lots of interest for them at the plant sale.
My plants are at least 10 feet tall in part shade and covered in three inch blooms. They are half hardy so will survive a few early frosts and usually hang on through October.
They are easy to start from seed under lights or in a greenhouse in March. They can also be direct sowed in May, but they are late bloomers. It's best to grow them the same way tomatoes are planted for earlier blooms.
Check out this link to an article in the St. Petersburg Times from 1951 with a mention and photo of 'Torch.'
Put 'Torch' or 'Yellow Torch' on you're list to grow next year, you won't be sorry.
Seems I'm always looking up at 'Yellow Torch,' the plants have reached 10 feet.
'Torch' was on of the 1951 AAS winners. This is a flowering plant from my garden last season.