How to Grow Oriental Poppies


The Oriental poppy (scientific name Papaver orientale) is an exuberant perennial flower that can brighten up any garden. Cultivars vary in size from a little more than a foot to four feet tall and the open, crinkled blossoms can measure six inches in diameter. The flowers, which range in color from purest white to crimson and maroon, are lovely in arrangements. You can grow oriental poppies from seeds or buy them as seedlings.

Step 1

Wait to plant your poppies until after there's no danger of frost. To find out when the last average frost date is in your area, call your county extension service.

Step 2

Find a suitable spot that gets plenty of sun, at least eight hours a day, for your poppies. If you're planting seeds, dig the bed up to about six inches deep. If you're planting poppy plants, dig deeper, at least 12 inches, because the plants have long, trailing roots.

Step 3

If the soil is very heavy and doesn't drain well, mix in compost until it's loose. Poppies have to have good drainage to thrive. Add slow-release fertilizer per the directions on the packaging and combine it all together well.

Step 4

If you're planting seeds, simply scatter them over the soil and cover them with a very thin layer of dirt. Water the seeds lightly. They should germinate within 10 to 20 days.

Step 5

If you're planting poppy plants, put the plants down into the bed so that their roots are as straight as you can manage. Fill the holes around the plants with dirt till the crown of each plant (the part where the stems branch off the roots) is covered with at least three inches of soil.

Step 6

Water the plants lightly---don't soak them. As they grow, continue to water them lightly but not till they're soggy.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't overwater your poppies. They are tough plants, but standing in water will encourage root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Oriental poppy seeds or plants
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Water
  • Time-release fertilizer


  • Growing Guide; Papaver orientale (Oriental Poppy); White Flower Farm
  • Oriental Poppies;

Who Can Help

  • U.S.D.A. Hardiness Zone Map; United States National Arboretum
Keywords: Oriental poppies, growing Oriental poppies, Oriental poppy seeds

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.