Wild sunflower, Tithonia diversifolia, has been found to contain high levels of nitrogen content, exceeding nearly six percent. It has enzymes that hasten decomposition and cut down composting time from three months to just a few weeks. This is why it is an excellent additive for composting rice hay and other farm wastes, materials which have low nitrogen contents, decomposition.
Mexican Sunflower added to compost piles builds heat and sustains it at a high level of. At this temperature weed seeds and harmful microorganisms are killed.
It also makes a great nitrogen replenishment plant.
plant it in poor soil and walk away. Once the plants matured and blooms have finished, take cuttings and when they have established, chop and drop the parent plant to allow it to compost in place.
The stems and leaves make fantastic liquid fertiliser if allowed to soak. I add leaves and small stems to my worm farm along with comfrey as it helps to add to the phosphorus levels of the worm tea.
On top of being wonderful fertiliser, these plants make great short term shelter belt plants for your young plants, and are perfect for creating a dappled light situation for growing heat sensitive plants under.
But wait- there’s more! The leaves contain sesquiterpene lactones, including tagitinin ,which possess insecticidal properties. Soak the crushed leaves in boiling water over night then use the water to spray your plants to help remove aphids and other nastys.
And if that’s not enough to convince you - it’s also medicinal! The leaves can be used externally as treatment on wounds or bruises. The ground up leaves are used as a tea to treat a range of issues, including malaria, constipation, kidney issues, type two diabetes ( it aids the decrease of glucose levels ) , urinary tract issues, sore throats and do much more.