How to Plant Red Poppies


The scientific name for a red poppy is Papaver rhoeas. It also has several common names including field poppy and corn rose. Red poppies are classified as variable annuals. Red poppies can be identified by their four large bright red petals with a small black center. The showy flowers are often paper thin and rest on top of a long stem. Red poppies grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 through 10.

Step 1

Test the pH of your soil. According to American Meadows, red poppies prefer soil that is considered either neutral or alkaline. So as long as your pH test reads above a 7, you are fine. Anything below a 7 and your soil is too acidic for red poppies.

Step 2

Make sure your soil drains well. If it doesn't, you will need to mix some sand in with it.

Step 3

Till your soil. Red poppy seeds need to be planted in loose soil. Make sure the location you chose gets full sun to partial shade. Poppies prefer direct sunlight.

Step 4

Dig a 1/2 inch hole for each poppy seed, and plant the seed inside. Cover the seeds back up with dirt. Each seed should be spaced 1/2 inch apart.

Step 5

Water your red poppy seeds so that the top 2 inches of soil is moist. Water often until the seeds germinate, and then you can cut back to regular waterings.

Tips and Warnings

  • It is illegal to grow the species Papaver sonniferum because opium can be extracted from the pods.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test kit Well-draining soil Sand Tiller Full sunlight to partial shade Red poppy seeds Water


  • American Meadows: The Red Poppy
  • Texas A&M University: Poppy
  • West Coast Seeds: How to Grow Poppies

Who Can Help

  • Universities Space Research Association: Image of a Red Poppy Field
Keywords: red poppy, growing poppies, planting red poppies

About this Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.