Poppies are whimsical flowers that can tower over your garden and bring a lovely burst of color. These flowers will grow in early summer and if you’re lucky, will grow the following year, either by their roots or their seeds.
When to plant poppies: You can plant poppies before the threat of frost is over. Plant in early spring, such as March or April, depending on your local climate. The seeds are very tiny so you can throw them down directly on top of the soil, or just lightly rake afterward. There are different varieties of poppies, and some will be annuals, biannuals, or perennials. Choose a variety that works with your area and remember that they do not need great soil conditions or a lot of water.
Planting Poppies in Different Climates
Too much moisture can quickly rot the roots of poppies, so a tropical climate is not the best option. Unfortunately, poppies need an area where they can have some moisture but not too much.
Poppies may do ok in a dry climate but you should go in with limited expectations. They do not need a lot of water to thrive, so a dry climate may be ok.
Poppies also do not need great soil conditions. Start with a hardier poppy variety to see if they will survive your dry climate.
With mild winters and warm summers, a temperate climate is great for poppies. You can plant the seeds in March as the winter shouldn’t be too cold in a temperate climate.
A continental climate is perfect for a lot of species of poppies. You will want to find varieties that are more cold-hardy than others, especially if you pick perennial varieties.
If you go for annual poppies, they will do just fine with the hot summers and plenty of sunshine a continental climate has to offer.
Unfortunately, there is not enough sun or warmth in a polar climate for poppies to grow.
Choosing Poppy Seeds
Finding the right variety of poppies is a fun activity. There are many to choose from and you might find it hard to pick just one.
Poppies do have different growing needs, so be sure to match the variety with where you live and your specific climate.
This easy-to-grow annual variety has a lovely selection of colors, including red, pink, yellow, and white. These are actually the same poppies that inspired the WWI poem, “In Flanders Field”, by John McCrae.
If you want a bit of drama in your garden, you should consider Oriental Poppies. Their flowers can actually grow to be 8 to 10 inches wide. These are a perennial variety and are winter hardy, so perfect if you live in a colder climate.
A native to the West Coast, particularly California, these poppies have colorful hues of yellow, cream, orange, and pink. Their petals have a crepe paper look to them.
While you might think poppies are only in red hues, Himalayan poppies are actually a blue color. They are a bit harder to grow as they thrive in mountainous conditions.
How to Plant Poppy Seeds
The perfect location
Poppies love the sun so make sure you pick an area with full sun. They may grow with some shade but the more sun, the better.
As for the soil, it should be well-draining and slightly moist. Poppies don’t need any extra nutrients in their soil, so an all-purpose mix of dirt will do just fine.
Poppies are easy to grow, as long as you don’t overthink the process. The simpler the better, which is why these flowers are so much fun to grow.
Start your poppy seeds in early spring. You don’t even have to wait for the threat of frost to be over. Instead, plant between March and April, depending on your climate.
You should also always direct-sow your poppy seeds. Transplanting your poppies is quite difficult as they can be pretty fragile, so simply place the seeds directly in the ground.
Not too much soil
If you’ve ever seen poppy seeds before, you will realize how tiny they are. Again, this aids in their simplicity when planting.
You can actually simply place your poppy seeds right onto the ground, without digging a hole. If you aren’t sure about this process, simply spread the poppy seeds where you want them to be and then give the soil a soft raking over to loosen the ground.
After you lay your poppy seeds out, you can give the area a bit of water. Remember that these seeds are very tiny so if you over-water at this point, the seeds may run off with all the excess water.
An alternative is to actually water before you place your seeds. Water the soil so it is nice and soggy and then spread your seeds out.
This will keep the soil in place, provide water to your plants, and not cause any complications in the planting process.
Thin them out
Poppy seeds are very tiny and you can never be sure how many will take. Therefore, you want to spread them out rather thickly to ensure you get as many poppies as possible.
Once they start to grow, you can then thin out any unwanted plants. These young poppies will come out of the ground very easily as all you have to do is pluck out the stems with your hands.
How to Water Poppies
One of the benefits of growing poppies is that they do not need very much water. In fact, too much water can lead the flowers to droop and their roots to rot.
If you live in a more temperate climate, you don’t have to worry about watering. Instead, only water when it is very hot out or there is a drought.
As for hotter climates, you may need to water more. However, watering every other day will usually be enough.
How to Grow Poppies
Mulch and weed
After your poppies emerge from the ground, you can add a layer of mulch on top of the soil. This will help keep the soil moist and means you don’t have to water as much, which is important for poppies.
Mulch will also keep weeds from taking over. If you do see weeds, gently remove them but be careful not to disturb the delicate root structure of your poppies.
Most varieties of poppies will be able to bloom a few times during the summer. To help enable this, deadhead your poppies once their blooms start to fade.
Gently pinch off the spent blooms and in a few days, the plant will grow more blossoms. This will help you get the most out of your flowers.
Amazingly, poppies will grow in poor to normal soil. This means that you don’t really need to add fertilizer to the area.
If you feel like your soil is exceptionally poor, you can add a bit of fertilizer in the spring. It’s best to add some before you plant your seeds, either by adding compost to the area or by placing some slow-release fertilizer.
How long does it take to grow plant poppies?
When you plant poppies in the early spring, they will be ready to bloom that summer. Expect vibrant blooms between May and June.
There are annual, biannual, and perennial versions of poppies, so depending on the type, they may come back on their own. Even annual poppies have a good chance of growing back on their own, as they are able to self-seed.
What is the best month to plant poppies?
Poppies can be spread on the ground in the early spring before the threat of frost is done. Depending on where you live, this can be either March or April.
Will poppies grow back on their own?
Poppies like to do what they want, which can make them a frustrating flower. They do have the ability to self-seed, as they carry all their seeds in the seed pod which will break down in the fall and spread on its own.
However, sometimes you may find poppies the following year and in other years, you may not. Because the seeds are so tiny, they can easily be blown away by the wind or carried off by roving animals.
You should plant your poppies in an area where you can have them grow the following year and if they do pop up, think of it as a nice surprise rather than something to depend on.
There are some varieties of poppies that are perennials. If this is what you have, you will want to divide your plants in the fall.
Dividing in the fall allows for the roots to restore themselves and thus be ready to bloom the following year. If you disturb the roots in the spring, they will not blossom that summer.
Poppies are an excellent addition to any garden. Their tall stems and vibrant colors are great for a whimsical garden.