If you are searching for an elegant classic with the perseverance of a wildflower, try poppies. They are easy to grow by gardeners throughout the U.S. as an annual. And, like a wildflower, they will self seed if allowed. Poppies are an old fashioned favorite with their easygoing character and graceful flair.
Choose poppies from a huge color palette. In fact, there are poppy varieties in nearly every flower color you can imagine. They are found in solid and in multicolored hues. And, there are many different varieties. With so many to consider, your biggest challenge growing poppies might just be figuring out which one to choose.
Poppies have been around for centuries. Their gorgeous blossoms, their edible seeds, and their medicinal properties have woven them into the history and culture of folks far and wide.
How to Grow and Care for Poppies
Poppies don’t like to be transplanted, so plan on starting from seed. The seeds are cold weather tolerant and can be sown in late fall for the earliest spring blooms. You can stagger your seeding all the way through mid-July to enjoy the blooms throughout the growing season.
Scatter your poppy seeds over a sunny area where you will enjoy the blossoms. Gently rake a small amount of soil over the area you have dropped your seeds. Poppy seeds need a bit of sunlight to germinate, so avoid burying them completely.
Thin your shoots so they are spaced at least 6 inches apart. Once you plants begin to bloom, dead head to encourage new blossoms. Leave a few heads behind to self seed. With self seeding you have the potential of discovering a similar plant year after year in the same general location.
The ideal soil for your poppy is one third sand, one third regular garden soil, and one third well rotted manure. Loose and loamy soil will allow your poppy’s roots to develop deeply. As a result of this advantage, your plant will be larger and more productive. It’s possible that your poppies will grow so large that they’ll need to be supported with stakes.
Poppies are heavy feeders. They will appreciate an organic fertilizer for blooming plants every 4 to 6 weeks. Water your poppies often, too. Poppies are a heat and drought tolerant plant, so they don’t have any special watering requirements. Just make sure they get a moderate to regular amount.
Keep the area around the base of your plant clear of weeds and other competition. Also, thin away a couple of the larger leaves of your poppy plant to help promote good air circulation to the plant. Clear away any decaying or dead plant material to keep your poppy healthy.
Your poppies will be gorgeous in a vase inside. Cut them just before buds open. Sear the freshly cut stems of the poppy with a match or a lighter before you place them in water.
Pests and Problems for Poppies
Poppies are very attractive to bees and other beneficial bugs. While most don’t find this to be problematic, we thought it was worth mentioning. And, as with many annuals, there are a few not so beneficial bugs, like aphids, that you may discover lurking around your poppy plant, too. A direct stream of water is often helpful to avert these insect pests. You might need to consider a snail or slug trap for your tender seedlings. The slimy little creeps are known to decimate immature poppy plants.
As long as your poppy receives plenty of sunshine, good air circulation, and not too much or too little water, it will supply you with an abundance of color and beauty.
Poppy Varieties to Grow
‘Angel’s Choir’ is a mixed variety that creates a stunning bouquet in pinks, creams, apricots, and lavenders. This variety is sure to make your heart sing.
‘Tropical Sunset’ is a mixed blend of California poppies, specifically. It boasts the most vibrant and intense colors of a sunset. California poppies self seed easily and are even more carefree than other poppy varieties.
Looking for more information on growing poppies?
Check out these resources:
Seed Poppy in the Garden from Utah State University Cooperative Extension
Growing Guide: California Poppy from Cornell University
Dianna Sexton says
Thank you for the information.
Enjoy the day.
Irene Manske says
Are they toxic for dogs
L. Higgins says
Your article said “The seeds are cold weather tolerant and can be sown in late fall for the earliest spring blooms.” Is that true for all grow zones? I live in Lexington, Kentucky.