How to Plant Poppy Seeds


There are hundreds of poppy cultivars available to gardeners. Some are annuals and some are perennials; some are native to the United States, while others are native to Europe or Asia. All poppies have small seeds, tissue-like petals, prominent seedpods and a bloom time of early spring to early summer. Mix the seeds with sand and use a salt shaker to disperse them. The sand separates the seeds so you get better coverage over the planting area.

Step 1

Sow poppy seeds either in late summer or early fall, or four to six weeks before your last predicted frost date. If you sow poppy seeds in the spring, you will need to prepare the soil in the fall prior to seeding.

Step 2

Choose a spot that receives at least eight hours of full sun a day. Southern gardeners should plant poppies where they receive afternoon shade.

Step 3

Mix 3 to 4 inches of compost into the top 6 inches of soil at the planting site.

Step 4

Mix the poppy seeds with a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of horticultural sand.

Step 5

Pour the sand and seed mix into a salt shaker.

Step 6

Sprinkle the mix over the prepared soil.

Step 7

Give the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch of water to settle them into the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Poppy seeds will not germinate in soil that is too wet. Poppy plants will die if the soil they are planted in becomes waterlogged. Check with your local Extension office to verify it is legal to plant Papaver somniferum (opium poppies) in your garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Horticultural sand
  • Measuring cup
  • Salt shaker


  • "The Garden Primer;" Barbara Damrosch; 1988
  • Growing and Caring for Poppies
  • "Taylor's Master Guide to Gardening;" Houghton Mifflin Co.; 1994

Who Can Help

  • Growing Oriental Poppies
Keywords: planting poppy seeds, planting poppies, poppies, growing poppies