Poppies Flower Plant Care – There’s a reason poppies feature in so much artwork and so many gardens throughout the globe. They’re just stunning.
The paper-thin petals are extraordinarily exquisite, with colors ranging from shockingly bright to gentle and subtle. The blossoms might be small and simple, or large and full.
There are animals that flourish in the heat and those that thrive in the cold. Some remain small, while others tower above the rest of the flowers in the yard. They may be either annuals or perennials, and they self-seed abundantly.
In other words, they’re both lovely and useful. Oh, and did I mention they’re resistant to pests and diseases?
They’re amazing, and I can’t imagine my garden without them.
Whether it’s your first time growing poppies or you’re seeking additional information on how to make them flourish, this guide has you covered. Here’s what you may expect:
Are you ready to fall (again) in love with this iconic flower? Let’s get started.
History and Cultivation
Poppies are plants of the Papaver genus that have been around for a very long time. They’ve been unearthed in Egyptian tombs and written about in Greek mythology. Annuals, biennials, and perennials can all be grown as poppies, but they are most often grown as annuals.
Depending on the species and cultivar, they may be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. When we speak about poppies, we usually mean breadseed (or opium) poppies, P. somniferum.
Breadseed poppies, as the name implies, are grown for their seeds in the culinary industry. However, bear in mind that, with the exception of the seeds, the whole plant is hazardous.
If you’ve read Michael Pollan’s book “This Is Your Mind on Plants,” you’ll know that producing breadseed poppies in the United States is legally banned according to the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942.
This is due to the fact that the poppies we plant for their gorgeous flowers and seed pods are the same species that are farmed for opium.
The Drug Enforcement Agency ordered the removal of poppies from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello grounds, as well as other private gardens around the United States. Most home gardeners, though, are probably safe.
There’s nothing to worry about as long as you’re simply cultivating the plants for their decorative appeal.
The legislation is vague, and you may suffer legal penalties only if it can be shown that you are cultivating them to harvest opium. To be on risky legal footing, you must be aware that a poppy seed pod may be used to produce opium.
Another frequently planted species with full, peony-like blooms is the peony-flowered poppy (P. paeoniflorum).
A lot of people like these types of flowers: Iceland poppies (P. nudicaule) and Welsh poppies (P. cambricum) are two of them, as well as Oriental poppies (P. orientale) and Flanders poppies (P. rhoeas and the Shirley strain).
Bright red Flanders poppies can be found blooming on motorway medians and in “wildflower” fields that have been made.
Alpine forms (P. alpinum) are more showy than their relatives but are less well-known. Spanish poppies (P. rupifragum) are difficult to locate yet thrive in hot climates.
The same family includes the Himalayan (Meconopsis betonicifolia), celandine (Stylophorum diphyllum), prickly (Argemone mexicana), Mexican tulip (Hunnemannia fumariifolia), and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
For your convenience, the following are annuals: breadseed, california, flanders, peony, and prickly.
These are perennials as well: the alps (short-lived), himalayan celandine icelandic (short-lived), mexico tulipa, oriental, spanish, and welsh.
The blooms may be solitary or double, with smooth or ruffled petals. In the spring, Shirley poppies and P. orientale varieties bloom, while breadseed and California poppies bloom in the summer.
Each individual flower only lasts a few days or so, but the plants keep making new buds, so you can expect a show that lasts for a while.
Aside from the blooms, the seed pods may be very lovely. And the leaves are thin, almost like balled-up tissue paper that has been smoothed back out. Certain bread-seed varieties may grow from around a foot tall to over three feet tall.
Plants will self-seed if the seed pods are allowed to develop and fall. Plants of the same species will cross-pollinate, but it merely means you’ll get something different but no less intriguing the next year.
Propagating seeds is the simplest method to get started. However, this is not a plant that can be started inside.
To germinate, the seeds need a considerable amount of time outdoors with a cycle of freezing and thawing, and they dislike being transferred. Simply plant them outdoors in the location where you want them to flourish.
The P. orientale and P. California varieties are some of the plants that nurseries sell as bare root plants and transplants.
Planting Poppies Flower from Seed
Seeds should be planted in the autumn or winter. If you sow in the spring, the plants may not blossom until the following year, if at all. In Iceland poppies may be planted safely in the spring.
Plants like loamy, rich soil that drains nicely. In a full-sun location, prepare the soil by adding a lot of well-rotted compost to remove clay or to improve water retention in sandy soil.
Sprinkle the seeds on top of the prepared soil and then push them into it with your dry palm. Because seeds need light to germinate, you should not bury them deeper than an eighth of an inch.
Before planting, mix the seeds with a considerable quantity of sand to minimize over-seeding.
To avoid disturbing the seeds, mist the soil rather than watering it with a full stream from the hose. You should avoid using a stream of water until the seeds have germinated.
To prevent birds from eating up all of the seeds, you may need to cover the planting area with chicken wire or another sort of protection.
You won’t have to worry about the leaves and stems being damaged by an unexpected frost after the seeds germinate, which will happen in early spring. They are resilient and can tolerate freezing temperatures.
Thin the seedlings in accordance with the species and cultivar you’ve selected. If the seedlings are not thinned, they will not develop enormous, showy flowers, so don’t miss this stage.
You should aim for roughly eight inches between plants, depending on the species.
By the way, don’t give up if your seeds don’t germinate. Poppies are one of those plants whose seeds may remain dormant till the circumstances are favorable. They might miss a year and germinate the next.
In general, P. orientale is the only kind that is available in bare root form. Just keep in mind that they have a lengthy taproot that, if disturbed, might shock the plant. From April through late summer, this perennial may be sown.
Prepare the location where you wish to plant it ahead of time. This includes amending the soil as necessary to produce a well-draining, loamy, rich bed. Compost that has been well-rotted may assist in enhancing both sandy and clay soil.
Dig a hole three times the depth and width of the root ball. Place the plant in the hole after removing it from any wrapping.
Fill the hole with enriched soil, making sure the plant’s crown is slightly above the soil level, and gently press it down. Well, water well to settle the dirt and add more soil as required.
Poppies Flower Plant Transplants
You may purchase seedlings from a nursery, but keep in mind that transferring them might suppress the blooms and result in a sparse show. Plant seedlings in prepared soil after your area’s latest predicted frost date.
Whether you are transplanting an existing plant or purchasing one from a shop, you must use extreme caution. Remember that they have lengthy taproots that don’t enjoy being disturbed.
As indicated above, amend the soil, dig a hole the same width and depth as the pot, and carefully remove the plant from its container.
As far as possible, avoid disturbing the existing soil or roots. You may even need to remove the plant from its container. Backfill around the plant once it has been placed in the hole. Water thoroughly.
How to Grow Poppies Flower Plant
Poppies need well-drained, loamy soil that is rich in nutrients. They can, however, withstand some sand or poor soil, but they can’t withstand poor drainage.
If you want to see how genuinely gorgeous they can be, you must place them in full light. Some species, like California and Flanders, may live in partial shade, but the flowers will be fewer and smaller.
Some species suffer in the heat, while others flourish. Poppies from the Himalayas, the Alps, Iceland, California, and Flanders appreciate chilly temperatures.
If you reside in a hot climate, provide them with some shade during the warmest hours of the afternoon. Himalayan poppies cannot survive in temperatures over 75°F.
Heat tolerance is shared by Oriental, bread-seed, prickly, and Spanish poppies. Because they are drought resistant, Spanish poppies may also be utilized in xeriscaping.
California poppies aren’t as drought-resistant as other types of poppies, but they can withstand short periods of dryness.
Cool-weather plants need damp soil. Add extra water after the top half-inch of soil has dried off. Heat-loving plants may tolerate drier soil. Allow about an inch of the top inch to dry out.
If the plants begin to wilt, apply additional water after checking to ensure that the soil isn’t already saturated—if it is, they may be suffering from rot.
Unless you have very poor soil, these plants do not need fertilization. If yours are small and unappealing, it might be worth looking at your soil and fixing it if it needs to be.
Otherwise, when the flowers start to grow, you can side-dress them with some well-rotted manure if you want, but it’s not necessary to do this.
Keeping the Seeds
After the plants have blossomed, go outside on a dry day to pick up the seeds. Remove the dried seed heads from the plants. They should be dry to the touch, with seeds rattling within the pods.
Place it in a paper bag in a cold, dark place to thoroughly dry and store it until planting time. Shake the seed heads upside down over the prepared soil like a pepper shaker in the autumn.
You may also leave the pods on the blooms to dry completely, but the seeds will disperse on their own. You should utilize the seeds you’ve harvested within a year of harvesting them.
Poppies will cross-pollinate, so keep different cultivars apart if you don’t want this to happen. You may also hand-pollinate the blossoms and cover them with a bag afterward. Read more tips here.
Poppies Flower Plant Additional Growing Tips
- Plant it in well-draining soil that receives full light.
- Take into account the heat and moisture needs of your specific species.
- If you want to keep the seeds, let the seed heads dry fully.
Pest and Disease Control
Do you know why I like poppies? Okay, there are other reasons, not the least of which is their amazing blossoms.
Another reason is that they are seldom affected by pests or illnesses. In reality, aphids are the only insects to be concerned about, and downy mildew is the most frequent disease.
If given the opportunity, black bean aphids (Aphis fabae) will consume your poppies. However, unless you have a severe infestation, it will have little effect on your plants.
There may be some yellow stippling on the leaves. A severe infestation may result in reduced growth and deformed leaves.
Plants that are maintained in proper conditions are less likely to get illnesses. If they do, they’ll probably be OK and still put on a nice show. Stressed plants, on the other hand, may become unhealthy to the point where they struggle or even die.
You may have seen downy mildew on your vegetables, but it may also be a problem for poppies.
Downy mildew is produced by water molds (oomycetes) from the Peronospora, Bremia, Plasmopara, and Basidiophora genera.
When it is prevalent, you will see gray mildew patches on the undersides of leaves and brown or black streaks on the upper surface.
It is easiest to prevent it by planting in full sun and watering at the soil level rather than on the leaves.
Poppies Flower Plant Uses
These flamboyant plants look great in rock gardens and in bulk plantings. They’re also popular in cottage and wildflower gardens.
Poppies create lovely cut flowers, but they fade rapidly.
They, like hydrangeas, may be encouraged to last longer by burning the ends of their stems. The simplest method is to use a lighter and hold the flame at the cut end for around five seconds.
Flowers should be trimmed in the morning while they are damp. To keep the flowers fresher for longer, mix one part lemon-lime soda with two parts water.