Growing your own poppies is an easy gardening task and a great way to add colour to your garden. They’re low maintenance and easy to grow plants. What’s even better is that they’ll keep returning every year, and you won’t have to do almost anything.
If you own a garden, you know that every flower has its own best time to be planted. For example, the planting period for gladioli bulbs is different from the tulip bulbs. The same goes for poppies as well. They need to be planted in a specific season. If you’re a garden enthusiast and want to add some poppies to your space, then keep reading. We are about to share with you when to start planting poppy seeds to see them flourish!
Table of Contents
When to plant poppy seeds
The best time to sow poppy seeds is in autumn or early spring, depending on the climate. Once more, keep in mind that different plants need different things. For example, planting your pumpkin seeds is extremely different! Poppies need cool and cold temperatures to sprout. If the temperatures during winter in your area are at least -18ºC, you can plant your seeds in autumn. If you live in colder climates, plant in spring; just wait for the ground to defrost first.
Where to plant poppy seeds
Poppies can thrive in most soils. But, for best results, choose to plant them in a well-drained, alkaline, acid or neutral soil with full sun. Poppies thrive when they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. However, if you live in hot climates, choose an area with partial shade.
When it comes to the soil, choose a spot with good drainage. Otherwise, your poppies will rot. To be sure if the soil you’re planning to plant the seeds is the proper one, you can test it.
- Dig a hole 10cm deep and fill it with water.
- Let it drain completely and fill once more.
- Check how long it takes to drain. It should take up to 4 hours. If it takes more than that, look for another place to plant.
If you don’t have a spot with good drainage in your garden, mix the soil with compost and a little sand. You can use the combo sand-compost in a DIY flower bed or a raised garden bed, so you can create the perfect conditions yourself.
How to plant poppy seeds
Planting poppy seeds isn’t a hard task. If you know how to plant flowers or trees, it will be a walk in the park. All it needs is some digging and mixing. Ready to find out the right way to plant your poppies to see them flourish?
Needed materials and tools:
- A spade
- A rake
- Peat moss
Steps to follow:
- Dig the top 15cm of soil to loosen it.
- Mix a 5cm layer of compost with the soil to improve its quality. You can keep compost bins in your garden or make your own one.
- Combine one part seeds with two parts of sand to prevent overseeding.
- Sprinkle the seed-sand mixture over the soil.
- Next, cover the seeds with a 4mm layer of peat moss to encourage germination.
- Mist the soil every day or every time the soil needs to remain moist near the surface. If the soil temperature is about 12.7°C, then poppies will germinate within 15 days.
- Thin poppy seedlings. The remaining plants should be 15-25cm apart as they grow.
And that’s all! You don’t need to do anything else. Just sit back and enjoy your plants.
Extra care tips for growing poppies
- Water your plants the right way. Poppies need water only when the soil feels dry. As a rule of thumb, you should water the flowers once every seven days.
- Don’t water poppies during the early afternoon, especially during sunny days. The heated water can burn the leaves.
- Mulch to prevent weeds from growing. Spread 6-8cm of organic mulch. Opt for bark chips as they can keep the soil moist and look attractive.
- If you want to harvest seed pods, cut the light brown ones. You can then let them dry for 1-2 weeks, and afterwards, you can break them to open and store the seed heads into a jar for up to 2 years.
- If you have biennials and perennial poppy plants, cut the old foliage to ground level in autumn.
- Fertilise only when it’s necessary. Generally speaking, you should fertilise them once a month during the growing season. If you want to speed up the growing process or if your soil is poor, you can add fertiliser only if the plants are at least 13 cm tall. Use a low nitrogen, neutral pH one and apply following the instructions labelled on the packaging.
- Deadhead the spent blooms to encourage more blooming. Remove the spent flowers close to the stalk. In case you don’t want a wild corner, deadheading will prevent the plants from self-seeding.
- Cut the smaller and wicker poppies once they’re 2.5-5cm tall using garden shears. If your garden shears aren’t sharp enough, check how to sharpen them. That is the best way to keep the remaining plants healthy and allow good air circulation.
You should have flowers from early summer up to September. At the end of the flowering season, let your poppies set seed and die. Dig the ground to prevent weeds from taking it over once more next year to ensure that your garden will be covered with poppies next summer.
Poppy varieties and which to plant
There are about 120 different varieties of poppy, including annual, biennial and perennial. You can find a great variety of colours, from white and yellow to various pastel shades of pink, orange and red. If you want a wildflower garden, sow seeds of different types, but opt for a single colour if you want a more tidy outdoor space.
Some of the most popular varieties are:
- Corn poppy (Papaver Rhoeas, Flanders or Field poppy)
- Oriental poppy (papaver Orientale)
- Opium poppy (Papaver Somniferum)
- California poppy
- Shirley poppy
- Peony poppy
- Himalayan poppy
- Iceland poppy
The Corn poppy flowers are the most easy-to-grow of all types. They’re annual poppies and great at attracting pollinators like bees or butterflies. They’re ideal if you want a wildflower garden. However, if you want a more permanent variety and want to make your garden more vivid, go for Oriental poppies or Iceland ones which come in eccentric shades like mauve and gold.
But, if you want to grow poppies for culinary purposes, then opium poppy is ideal. You can eat the seeds and also use them to add extra flavour to bread and cakes. You need to be careful, though. Not all poppies are edible. And the most important is that from the edible varieties, you can only eat the seeds. All the other parts are poisonous.
Poppy flowers are beautiful and easy-to-grow plants. There are various types to choose from. Opt for the one that is right for your garden. All flowers, plants and trees need to be planted at the right time, in the right soil and have some extra treatment. The same goes for these flowers as well. Having said all this, grab your spades and rakes and go plant some poppies!