How to Start Poppy Seeds


There are both annual and perennial varieties of poppies. Most poppies produce red or orange flowers, but other colors are available. Start seeds directly in the garden as poppies do not transplant well. They have a single long taproot that is easily damaged during transplanting, causing the death of the plant.

Step 1

In the spring, after all danger of frost has passed, prepare a a well-drained garden bed in full sun or partial shade. Lay a 3-inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to a 6-inch depth to improve drainage.

Step 2

Sow seeds 8 inches apart in rows or clusters. Sow seeds on the soil surface and cover with ¼ inch of soil.

Step 3

Water the bed until it is evenly moist throughout. Wait for germination to occur, approximately five to seven days after the seeds are sown.

Step 4

Keep the soil moist with frequent light watering the first week after seedlings emerge. Gradually reduce watering until you are only watering deeply once a week, providing approximately 1 to 2 inches of water at one time.

Step 5

Apply a 1-inch layer of organic mulch around the plants once they are 6 inches tall. Mulching preserves soil moisture and keeps the roots of the plants cool.

Tips and Warnings

  • Poppies are mildly drought-tolerant but they will not tolerate soil that is too wet, as this makes them susceptible to fungal diseases. Avoid soggy soil or standing water.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Hoe
  • Mulch


  • University of Idaho Extension
  • Penn State Extension
Keywords: growing poppies, planting poppy seeds, poppies from seed

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.