Oriental poppies reach heights of 3 feet with large showy paper-like blooms, but American poppies are somewhat shorter and blooms are smaller. The Iceland poppy is similar to the American poppy in size and shape. These hardy perennials thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture growing zones 2 to 7. Shari Thomas, Master Gardener from the Colorado State University Extension, reports that Iceland poppies reach a height of 12 inches with 2- to 3-inch blooms in spring and early summer. Resembling upturned cups, these delicate flowers bloom in a range of colors from the traditional orange and red to shades of apricot and salmon.
Prepare a bed for poppies in a sunny location that receives at least six hours of direct sun a day in cool climates. Poppies planted in southern climates benefit from shade in the afternoon to protect them from hot afternoon sun.
Amend the soil with 2 to 3 inches of compost or well-rotted manure. Although Iceland poppies tolerate nearly any soil, without adequate drainage they may not survive the winter. Adding organic matter to the soil improves drainage and increases aeration.
Mix three to four parts of sand to one part of poppy seeds to facilitate easy sowing. This keeps seeds from clumping together and makes planting easier.
Sprinkle the poppy seed and sand mixture over the garden bed in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Poppies prefer cool weather. When temperatures increase, blooms may be inhibited.
Cover lightly with fine soil or peat moss. According to the Colorado State University Extension, Iceland poppy seeds require light to germinate and should not be covered completely.
Spray the soil with water using the mist or sprayer attachment to your hose. Moisten the soil, but avoid creating soggy soil. Keep evenly moist until poppies germinate in 10 to 15 days.
Thin Iceland poppies to 6 to 10 inches apart when they are 1 inch tall.
Water when soil feels dry 1 inch below the surface of the soil. Typically, watering deeply once a week to saturate the soil to the root level is sufficient, but the need for water depends on the weather conditions and soil.
Deadhead blooms as soon as they begin to fade. Deadheading flowers tricks the plant into thinking it has not produced enough blooms to reproduce and forces new blooms.