How to Grow Poppies

Poppy Papaver croceum also known as Icelandic Poppy Papaver orientalis Poppy  Papaver rhoeas also known as corn and flanders Poppy
       Icelandic Poppy  Oriental Poppy Corn Poppy 


How to grow Poppies

There are three main types of poppy commonly grown are illustrated above, Icelandic Poppy, Oriental and Corn Poppy.   Although they are all poppies they have very different frowing requirements.              

 poppy field There are around 70 species of Poppy but only a few are commonly planted in our gardens. Firstly the annual poppies, such as Field poppy, which is the red poppy often seen in the wild and is also known as the corn poppy. These look lovely in the wild and wildflower settings with swathes of bright red.  Recently, the annual ladybird poppy has become popular, not dissimilar to the field poppy but with ladybird type markings. There are two popular perennial poppies; Icelandic and Oriental. Common characteristics of Poppies is that they are generally easy to growgreen wheelbarrow easy to grow

Icelandic and Oriental  Poppies tend to prefer soil on the dry side, which is well drained, and with plenty of sun.  The image below left , the exotic blue poppy in the called Meconopsis, common name Himalayan Blue Poppy, which likes cool shady conditions with a damp well drained soil. It is a beautiful Poppy for tips on growing  Himalayan Blue. However it is the exception to the rule that poppies are easy to grow as Meconopsis is  considered difficult to grow, thriving only in cooler areas in the North of Britain and Scotland. Suited to woodland settings and damp conditions it is important that this type of poppy does not dry out.

Meconopsis grandis branklyn common name Himalayan Blue Poppy Image top left is the Icelandic poppy , although not from Iceland it developed from a species originating in cold arctic areas and as such Icelandic poppies do prefer cool growing conditions and are fully hardy, a smaller poppy growing upwards to 30cms or 12". A biennial and self seeder which flowers are short lived and blooms are yellow, white, and orange. It is very colourful and makes a great splash of colour in the border. Easy to grow as it self seeds it just reappears in borders from year to year.

Centre and bottom left  is Papaver Orientale, the oriental poppy, which in fact originates from Turkey and Iran and is a big blousy poppy with lots of style and colour, and also very easy to grow. It has much larger flowers and is a perennial which reliably comes up year after year. It will tolerate a damper soil than the other two varieties. Whereas some poppies are annuals and bi annuals, the Oriental Poppy is perennial bringing colour to the garden year after year. It flowers late spring to early summer with each stem supporting one large flower. This poppy also likes sun to flower well,  but otherwise is not fussy about conditions.  The oriental poppy can get quite large large flower heads can be a bit floppy with a risk it will overlay other plants if not staked. The Oriental poppy is a keen seeder  and you will soon have other clumps emerging.  

poppy Papaver orientale Prince of OrangeThe one down side is that the leaves die back on the Oriental Poppy after flowering which can leave a gap in the border.  To cover this the Poppy can be grown with  Alchemilla, common name Lady's mantle, which produces attractive frothy sprays of foliage which would help to conceal the die back. One word of caution is that Alchemilla is a vigorous self seeder and can be difficult to contain.  It is possible to get a second flush of flowers by cutting back the flower stems on Papaver Orientale  as soon as it has flowered, cut right back to the ground level.Oriental poppies are suitable for the middle of the border, medium heis might around 45cm - 90cms. Oriental poppies are easy to grow and  reliable flowering plants. 

The image on the top right is P.rhoeas also known as Corn Poppy, Field Poppy, and Flanders Poppy which is the familiar bright red poppy. This type of Poppy prefers well drained, poorish soil which is in full sun. As an annual it has to be sown each year, from March to May on soil which is well raked to fine soil and seed directly into the soil. As with all seeds, ensure that the tiny seedlings do not dry out. Poppies will self seed but not always reliable it is very dependant on the growing conditions. 

There are plenty of other  flowering plants to chose from if poppies are not ideal for you. Check out spring flowering plants summer flowering plants, scented plants and climbing plants for more ideas.


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