"Velvet Queen" sunflower (Helianthus annuus "Velvet Queen"), a warm-season annual, makes the perfect backdrop to flowerbeds or can be planted on the edge of your yard as a privacy screen. Keep in mind sunflowers typically face east when mature, so plant them where you will be able to enjoy their beauty when in full bloom in late summer and early fall.
"Velvet Queen" produces abundant blooms on branching stems. The flowers range in color from deep red to bronze and mahogany, with dark centers. Plants reach heights of 6 to 8 feet with medium to small blooms that range from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. What these sunflowers lack in size, they make up for with their striking display of color.
Soil and Water
Like other sunflowers, "Velvet Queen" prefers rich, well-draining soil that dries slightly between waterings. Adding copious amounts of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil in the spring before planting provides sunflowers with the nutrients needed to thrive while improving both aeration and drainage in the soil. In poor soils, apply 5-10-5 fertilizer at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per 100 square feet.
Water sunflowers thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level when the soil dries slightly, typically once or twice a week, depending on the soil conditions and the weather. Sunflowers grown in loose, sandy soil that drains quickly need more frequent watering than those grown in loamy or clay soils that retain moisture. Watch for signs of wilting and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Sunflowers love bright sunshine and perform best in all-day sun, but will tolerate less. According to University of California Cooperative Extension
Stanislaus County, sunflowers need at least six to eight hours of direct sun to thrive. These hardy flowers can tolerate the intense rays of afternoon sun, as long as they are given enough water.
While they're mostly ornamental, "Velvet Queen" sunflowers also produce sunflower seeds for birds. By allowing the flower heads to go to seed on the plant, these sunflowers will attract song birds in fall. "Velvet Queen" also makes a delightful cut flower for adding to fall bouquets.
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