Velvet Queen Sunflower
Helianthus annuus. Dark velvety crimson blooms are accented with traces of yellow around a black center. Foliage is distinct and attractive and the plants are free branching, bearing lots of 5-6 inch blooms that are lovely for cutting. Plants are tall, over 5 feet in height. One of the earliest sunflowers to bloom in our trials. Direct seed outdoors after danger of frost. Sunflowers require full sun, well-drained soil. Approximately 40 seeds/pkg.
Direct seed outdoors after all danger of frost is past. (Dwarf varieties can be seeded inside in peat pots 3 weeks before planting out.) Sow 1 inch deep in light, well-drained soil. Keep moist until seed germinates in 10-14 days. Space in a full sun location 6-24 inches apart depending on variety. Giant varieties should be planted 20-24 inches apart, while cut flower varieties should be spaced 6-10 inches apart to get smaller heads and slender stems for bouquets.
Water regularly but do not over fertilize. Cut flowers last 10-14 days. Drying sunflower heads: If drying outside they should be protected with plastic mesh or brown paper bags. Just cover the heads to keep the birds away. To harvest, cut the seed heads leaving 12 inches of stem attached. Hang in an airy place safe from birds and rodents. Heads should be dry in 2-3 weeks. Remove seeds by rubbing two heads together. You may store the seeds on the heads until you need them.