Poppies have been grown for thousands of years and are now known and grown around the world. Poppies have a wide range of uses in addition to the beauty they add to a garden. They are easy to grow and come in a wide range of colors and sizes.
There are many types of poppies. One of the most popular is the corn poppy, an annual that produces pink, red, white or yellow flowers on a stem that grows to about 2 feet in height. The flowers can be single, semi-double or double. Iceland poppies are annuals that are very fragrant and produce large--as much as 3 inches in diameter--flowers that are orange, white, red, pink or peach and grow as tall as 2 feet. The Oriental poppy is a perennial, but it can come back the same as an annual if the conditions are right. It can grow as tall as 4 feet and produce larger flowers. The California poppy is native to the state and grows there as a wildflower. It is a self-seeding perennial and the flowers open only when there is sunshine. The Mexican poppy produces flowers that are large and either white or yellow. It is another one that is self-seeding.
Most poppies are annuals, but some are considered perennials. Poppies can grow up to 24 inches tall. Poppies do best in a sunny location and do very well in drought conditions. They only need to be watered lightly and the soil should not be allowed to get saturated. Poppies are a wildflower, not a cultivated one, so you can distribute the seeds over the surface of the soil without having to cover them. The perennials can be dug up in the fall and split into two or more plants by dividing the roots.
There is one variety of poppy that produces opium: The opium poppy has this property. It is also used to make legal drugs such as morphine.
When the flower is gone, there will be a large seed pod left. If it is left alone, the seeds will fall to the ground and produce more flowers. The seed pods can be harvested and the seeds removed to be sown in other places and some varieties are used in cooking, epically in Indian cuisine. The seeds are edible and can be pressed to make poppy seed oil. The seed pods can also be dried and used in dried flower arrangements
Consider planting poppies with other annual flower seeds. Poppies are beautiful, but the flowers will last for only a few days. They should be considered a supplement to other flowers, something to give an extra splash of color. Growing opium poppies is illegal in most places.
Make sure the soil is dry or your plants will get root rot. Also, many of the varieties will die if you try to transplant them. Varieties that self-seed can produce an overabundance of seeds and can tend to take over a garden. They need to be culled out regularly. Also, to grow in the spring, the poppy seeds need to have experienced a frost, so plant them in the early fall.