The Papaveraceae family of annuals, perennials, and biennials plants are better known as the poppy (Papaver rhoeas L). Oriental poppies and field poppies can be included, as can the Himalayan and Welsh poppies.
The summer blossoms may be swift, yet they are among the nicest flowers to grace any garden in May and June.
The most popular poppy to grow is the large-flowered oriental poppy (Papaver orientale). Their flower stalks and leaves are hairy, and petals range in colors from white to pink, purple, and red.
Growing poppies from seed is a straightforward way to add lots of color to your garden. In our guide, you can learn more about planting poppy seeds and how to grow poppies the right way. (Find the Best Companion Planting Garden Layout)
Can I Just Scatter Poppy Seeds?
When you scatter the poppy seeds outside in the spring, you may find you get no plants at all as you could with other flowers.
No matter which type of poppy you have, you can use the same suggestions: Shirley, Iceland, Peony, California (orange colored), Oriental, and even the Opium Poppy (papaver somniferum) and other Papaver species are a nice flowering plant.
Planting in the open air requires planning, and once spring weather allows, you need to weed and cultivate your area. From mid-March to early Spring, you can scatter poppy seeds.
However, many gardeners are unaware that these perennials’ poppy seeds won’t germinate without light.
Spread your seeds thinly across the top of the soil and press down lightly, so there is contact between the seed and the soil. Make sure not to bury your seed. You can cover lightly so long as light can still get through, and you can keep the soil moist.
Annual poppies are simple to grow and maintain. The plants don’t need staking or to be deadheaded; let them flower and seed as part of a wildflower display.
You can pull up parent plants and place them on the compost heap after flowers and blooms have faded and seeds have been discharged. Before removing any of your plants, give them a shake to loosen any seeds. (Learn How to Hang Plants from Ceiling)
The enormous flowers of Oriental poppies are held in place by thick hairy stems. Place this over the mound of leaves before the flower stems appear if they need support to stay erect.
A poppy flower lasts around 10 days, but if cut back, it produces a second set of flowers. Preventing oriental poppies from laying seed is a good idea since it reduces the amount of energy the plant needs to produce more flowers.
In the fall, cut back plants to the ground level and mulch with compost, leaf mold, or bark chippings.
Are Poppies Easy to Grow from Seed?
Growing poppies can be done by planting seeds or dividing roots of an existing plant, thus growing poppy flowers. You would plant poppy seeds in poor or regular soil, although in a sunny area in your garden.
Poppies grow from a taproot, so when planting poppies using another method apart from seeds, and you can cause a season of blooming to be missed when transplanting.
You may wonder when to plant poppy seeds? Fall is the best time for sowing, so they are ready for the following spring.
The best time to divide poppies in the autumn and doing this gives your taproot time to recover. In your garden flower bed, you can get lovely foliage and all sizes of petals on your flowers. Deadheading any spent flowers is vital for poppy plant care and leads to larger blooming.
The glorious thing when you grow poppies is your poppies establish themselves in their new spot and just need minimal watering as if you water too much; you’ll end up with a growing poppy flower that is tall and lanky.(Read Where Do Broccoli Seeds Come From)
Choosing the best poppy for your garden can be exciting. The Armenian poppy is delicate and produces offerings, while oriental poppies have the showiest blooms, yet these can die back as early as July because of the heat.
California poppies self-seed, so you do need to select an area where abundant poppy growth isn’t an issue.
Here is a quick overview of what planting poppy seeds entails:
- Choose a sunny spot with good drainage. Weed the area and rake to a fine tilth.
- Pour poppy seeds into your hand. Sprinkle them thinly across the ground to create natural growth pattern.
- Allow 7-30 days to germinate, though it will vary based on variety, soil condition and Soil growing temperatures. Ensure the soil is moist during germination.
- Once seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to roughly 12inches apart.
- Water the area regularly when it is dry.
How Long Do Poppies Take to Grow From Seed?
Once you crack open your seed pods, you may wonder how long your poppies will take to grow. They will thrive when in full sun to a partially shaded area, and some varieties such as the P. nudicaule are hardy to Zone 3 climates.
Timing is vital to get the best, so start your perennial poppies outdoors come early spring, when frost may still be possible.
If you are growing annual varieties outdoors, you will start growing at the same time if you reside in hardiness zones 3-7. If you live in zones 8-10, the best time to sow is in the fall.
You can discover that poppies are notoriously difficult to transplant, so it may be a wasted task if you are considering trying to start them indoors.
If you are keen to try this, you need the right conditions, so use peat or coco coir pots. Soil temperature needs to be 55°F (1255°C). Any way you plant, you can see seeds sprout in 20-30 days.
There is a bit more to it than this. You need to sow on the soil surface and lightly cover seeds to let light get to them. You also need to space seeds apart by a minimum of 6-inches.
Once they get going, poppies grow easily and can self-sow seeds each year. The good thing here is, they stop weeds from intruding, or they don’t become weedy themselves.
You can easily pull up plants from the ground that you don’t require. The pods will break, and then the seeds will fall, ready to germinate after the winter. (Learn How to Plant Succulent Seeds)
For the largest heads on Papaver somniferum, sow seeds in the fall or early winter. Thin plants to allow them some space, and keep the area weeded as plants grow larger.
Grow this variety in full sun in well-drained but ordinary garden soil. If spring and summer are cool and damp, or plants are over-crowded, expect smaller seed heads.
Should I Soak Poppy Seeds Before Planting?
You can plant poppy seeds in spring and fall, yet they can’t be planted any earlier. The best time to plant is the end of August or October. Before this, you need to prep your soil with compost, as this helps when you transplant and keeps the soil moist.
Some gardeners recommend soaking seeds in lukewarm water. They do this overnight to rehydrate seeds and give them a head start.
Once you plant your seeds, you need to keep soil moist, although not wet. Poppies love cooler weather, yet you still have to harden them off before you start transplanting them into your garden.
Poppies grow best from seed that is grown from seed you have sown in your garden bed. Poppy seedlings germinate in cool, well-draining soils with a full-sun location.
When planting poppies, planting seeds isn’t like with other plants. While you still need your distance, you’d sprinkle your seeds to the desired spacing.
You can use old row covers to cover to retain moisture, and the plastic still lets light through.
Plant poppies this way and give them a thin covering of compost, and they can grow healthy ready to offer a fantastic range of flowers, and with so many, the flower color can be very different.
Planting poppy seeds isn’t too challenging and the most important thing is to not disturb them too much. The chances of loosing lost blooms can make that year drag when you lack the bloom color you waited for, for so long.