Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) are tall growing herbaceous perennial plants. They are easy to recognize by their 3- to 4-inch-wide frilly, flouncy flowers that resemble tissue paper flowers. Oriental poppies are easy to grow from seed and are adaptable to many soil types. Plan on starting Oriental poppy seeds approximately six to eight weeks before the last spring frost in your growing region.
Collect oriental poppy pods in mid- to late summer. You will know they are ready for harvesting when the flower petals have all dropped away and the pod starts to turn light brown.
Place the pods into a paper bag. Place the bag in an arid, warm location to allow the pods dry further. Leave the pods inside the paper bag until they are ready to be planted the following spring.
Remove the pods from the paper bag carefully to avoid dispensing the seeds. Place a sheet of paper onto a table or sturdy surface. Turn each of the poppy pods upside down over the paper to dispense the seeds.
Fill up planting packs with a sterilized seed raising potting mix. (To sterilize seed raising mix, see the "Tips" section). Firm the seed raising mix down in each of the cells using your fingers or a small metal spoon.
Pour 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water into a watering tray, or similar object. Place the planting packs into the tray and allow the seed raising mix to absorb the water until it is saturated. Set the planting packs aside to allow any excess water to fully drain off before proceeding.
Plant two to three poppy seeds in each of the cells in the planting packs. As Oriental poppy seeds are small, use a pair of tweezers to pick up the seeds if you are experiencing difficulty handling the seeds. Press the poppy seeds into the soil using the back of the spoon or the blunt end of a pencil to ensure good soil to seed contact.
Place the planting packs inside a clear plastic bag to maintain humidity and warmth. You can also place a layer of clear plastic wrap over the planting packs.
Mist the surface of the seed raising mix to keep it moist, but not sodden wet. Germination of Oriental poppy seeds will typically begin in 10 to 15 days if the temperature is about 55 degrees F, according to Michigan State University Extension.
Remove the plastic wrap or the plastic bag after the poppy seeds begin to germinate. Transplant the seedling directly into your garden once each of the seedlings have at least three sets of leaves.