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