By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
The poppy (Papaver rhoeas L.) is an ancient flowering plant, long desired by gardeners in a range of landscape situations. Learning how to grow poppies allows you to use their beauty in many flower beds and gardens. Planting poppies is simple and rewarding when their single and double blooms appear in cooler seasons.
History of Planting Poppies
Growing poppy flowers are said to spring up on ravaged battlefields, as long ago as the 12th century. White poppies appeared on battlefields left by Mogul warrior Genghis Khan and were sighted in war zones following some battles of World War I. Thus, they have come to symbolize death and rebirth. The red poppy symbolizes fallen warriors and commemorates Veteran’s Day in the United States.
Growing poppy flowers have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes over the centuries. The seeds of the poppy are currently used in flavoring for breads and cakes and for the production of poppy seed oil.
How to Plant Poppies
Growing poppy flowers can be as simple as planting seeds or dividing roots of existing plants. Plant poppies from seed into poor to average soil in a sunny location for a good start to growing poppy flowers in your garden.
Poppies grow from a taproot. When this taproot is disturbed in transplanting, a lost season of bloom may occur when planting poppies. Divide poppies in autumn to allow time for the taproot to restore itself.
Planting poppies in either way can provide attractive foliage and large or diminutive flowers in your garden, flower bed or meadow.
How to Grow Poppies
Poppy plant care involves the deadheading of spent flowers, resulting in more prolific blooms of the poppy plant.
Poppy flowers need limited watering once they have settled into their location. Too much water can result in tall, leggy, unattractive growth of the growing poppy flower.
Choosing the variety of poppy best suited for your garden is an intriguing garden chore. The Armenian poppy is among the smaller and more delicate offerings. Oriental poppies offer the largest and showiest blooms but may die back during summer heat. California poppies self seed abundantly and should be planted where more poppies are desirable.
Learning how to plant poppies correctly provides you with a striking choice for many sunny locations where soil has not been enriched or amended.
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How to Grow Poppies
Many poppies do best in well-drained and moist soil in full sun. Opium and field poppies tolerate poorer, drier soils as compared to oriental poppies. Meanwhile, Himalayan poppies thrive in slightly acidic, moist soils in partial shade. Many poppies thrive well if propagated throughs seed but the oriental ones need to be propagated through root cuttings.
Biennial and annual poppies are typically propagated from seeds. However, annual poppies need to be sown onto well-prepared soil directly. One can sow them in early summer, spring, or autumn, where they can flower. You can prepare the soil by getting rid of weeds and rake it. Also, water soil using a sprayer and then, scatter the poppy seeds. Here, you do not have to cover it. So, this is how to grow poppy:
The best time to grow Himalayan and oriental poppies is spring. If you are growing poppy in a container, then you have to replant it in the soil. Just dig a hole and put well-rotted organic matter into it. Now, remove your plant from its container and place it in the planting hole. Next, backfill this hole and place it firmly in place. Keep watering well!
How to Grow Poppies
This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
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Poppies are versatile, show-stopping plants that include several varieties, from the big, bold Oriental poppy, which can grow as tall as 4 feet (122cm), to the demure Alpine poppy, topping out at about 10 inches (25cm). Poppies are tough plants that can thrive in any well-draining soil, although these tips will teach you how to grow them to encourage a healthy, blooming flowerbed. Once you have flowering poppies, you will likely have enough seeds to plant new poppies year after year.
Caring for Poppies and other Papaver Plants in the Garden
Once growing it is best to deadhead poppy flowers, such as those from Papaver nudicaule, after they have finished blooming Papaver plants do carry attractive seed heads but are prone to take over the garden if left to self seed.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Papaver plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Glaucium and Romneya plants.