With their big, ruffled flowers, poppies are one of the most stunning flowers in the flower bed and so accommodating that the plants will grow with little effort in any well-drained soil. Poppies are available in both annual and perennial varieties, in double and single blooms and in nearly every color in the rainbow. Harvest poppy flower seeds when the plants are finished blooming in late summer. Save the seeds for spring planting and another brilliant floral display.
Harvest poppy seeds on a warm, dry day. Never attempt to harvest seeds when the plants are damp.
Select a few of the most attractive blooms on healthy plants and allow the flowers to fade and die naturally on the plant. When the poppy flowers are brown and dry, snip a flower and drop it into a paper grocery bag. If the blooms have already fallen off naturally, drop the poppy pods into the bag. Be sure to use a different bag for each different color or variety. Label the bags.
Place the grocery bag in a warm, dry place for two to six weeks or until the blooms are brittle and papery. Shake the bag two or three times every week so the blooms will dry evenly.
Remove the poppy pods from the bag and discard the petals, stems and other debris. Put the pods into a gallon-sized zip-close plastic bag. Close the bag tightly and shake the bag until all of the poppy seeds are released from the pods.
Dump the contents of the zip-close bag into a strainer. Hold the strainer over a bowl and shake the strainer until the poppy seeds fall through into the bowl. Discard the poppy pods.
Place the poppy seeds on a tray or a baking sheet to finish drying for another one to two weeks. When the poppy seeds are dry, they will be hard and brittle and will break if you try to split them with your fingernail. If the seeds aren't dry, leave them for a few more days, as damp poppy seeds will mold.
Label a small paper bag and place the poppy seeds in the bag. If desired, place the bag in a small glass jar for extra protection, but never store the seeds in plastic. Keep the seeds in a dark, cool cupboard until spring.