Poppy pods make wonderful additions to dried floral arrangements and craft projects; plus, they hold hundreds of future poppy seeds. The poppy pods develop naturally on the poppy plant, after the flower has faded and the petals drop. To grow poppy pods, you must first successfully grow the flowers. At the end of the growing season, the pods can then be harvested and dried. You can also save the poppy seeds for next year's poppy pod harvest.
Plant your poppies in an area that receives full sun and has good drainage.
Remove any grass, sod or weeds if necessary, and loosen the soil to a depth of 3 inches with a shovel. Run a rake over the soil to smooth it out.
Plant the poppy seeds after your first fall frost. This allows them to go through their winter dormancy period, which they need to germinate the following spring. Put 1 cup of sand in a plastic cup and add the poppy seeds you wish to plant. Put the palm of your hand over the cup and gently shake it to mix the sand and seed.
Pour a small amount of the sand/seed mix into the palm of your hand, and cast it over a section of the prepared poppy bed. Repeat this process until the entire cup of sand/seed has been spread.
Water the scattered poppy seeds with a watering can that has a shower nozzle head, or with a water hose that has a "shower" or "mist" setting. If using a watering can, pour lightly, as you don't want to push the seeds off the dirt when watering.
Thin the poppy plants to 6 to 8 inches apart when the seedlings are 2 inches tall in the spring. Leave the poppy flowers on their stems for the blooming season. If you cut the poppies, no pods will develop. Once the flower has bloomed and the petals fall from the stem, you will see the round pod form where the flower was. Leave the pod on the stem until both the pod and the stem start to turn brown, but are still slightly green.
Cut the pods from the stem with garden shears, leaving your desired length of stalk. If you need a 12-inch stem under the pod, measure 12 inches down from the bottom of the pod with a measuring tape, then cut the stem with sharp garden scissors.
Tie the stems of the pod together by wrapping string around the bottoms, and hang them upside down in a warm area to dry. If you plan to harvest the poppy seeds, place newspaper underneath where the pods are hanging to catch any seeds that drop from the pods. Let the pods hang to dry for three weeks.
Shake the pods to see if they are completely dry. If the seeds rattle around and come out through the rim of the crown, the pods are dry and can now be used as desired.