By Kate Torpie, Garden Guides Contributor
About Oriental Poppy
Oriental Poppy, or Papaver orientale, is a perennial. It blooms in scarlet, orange, translucent pink or a variety of these colors with dabs of deep purple. When open, the flowers are dramatic and the size of dinner plates. They not only attract pollinators, but also admiration from passersby.
Choose a site with partial to full sun. You do not want a site that is too moist. The plants usually grow 2 to 3 feet in length, so plant them near an area where they will not block anything. This is one of the few plants that grows quite easily and successfully from seed, while it doesn't take well to transplanting. However, if you do transplant, dig a hole that is about as deep as the plant was in the pot. Either way, if you grow from seed or transplant, be sure to turn the soil over well and be sure that the soil is not overly moist. The plants or seeds should be placed about 18 to 24 inches apart.
Sow your seeds well after the last frost has passed. Place the seed (or transplant) in the hole. Fill the hole with a mixture of fertilizer and sand to help with water drainage. Then spread mulch around the new plantings. If you transplant, do not put mulch directly on top of the plant. Water the plant immediately. If you are planting from seed, expect a germination period of about 2 to 3 weeks. Once the stalks begin to grow tall, stake them out for support. Flowers will bloom in the spring, then die, but the green foliage will remain. When your other summer flowers begin to die in the fall, the oriental poppies will randomly bloom into bright bursts of beauty again.
Be careful not to overwater your Oriental Poppy. You can deadhead the dead blooms, as new ones will appear quickly. In midsummer, some of the plants will begin to die back. At that time, cut back the old stems. When the flowers turn to dried pods, you can cut them,or leave them for the birds to feast on. In winter, cover with mulch or bring indoors (but remember,they don't transplant well). When spring comes, there's no need to clean out the mulch as the giant flowers will cover them. Once the blooms fade, you can start watering your plant less often. The foliage does well with a good sun-baking.
Choosing a Variety
There is a huge variety of Oriental Poppy, so choosing one depends on what color and size you want in your garden. You may want to pick up some Baby's Breath to plant in the same area, so that once the blooms are gone, you have some filler. The number of varieties is tremendous: Turkenlouise has fringed petals of bright red and jet black stamen; and Fancy Feathers is a bubblegum pink, double layered, highly ruffled variety. Allegro blooms twice each season. Varieties are based on petal trim, color and stamen color. For the most part, all Oriental Poppies require the same care.
With looks this good, and care this easy, there is no need for more special features.