How to Plant an Oriental Poppy


Oriental poppies produce brilliant scarlet or orange flowers, with some varieties producing white or two-color blooms. Poppies are perennial plants and bloom for only a short time in early summer before going dormant in summer heat. They resume foliage growth in fall when the temperatures cool down and may bloom a second time before winter dormancy. They also produce interesting seed heads that stay on the stems throughout summer. Plant Oriental poppies in borders and beds to add vibrant color.

Step 1

Prepare a well-draining garden bed that receives full sun in spring once the soil temperature reaches 55 degrees F. Work a 2-inch layer of compost in to the bed to aid drainage and add nutrients.

Step 2

Grasp the poppy transplants by the stem near the soil surface with one hand. Pull the nursery pot off the root-ball with the other hand. Tap the pot lightly if it is stuck to loosen it and make removal easier.

Step 3

Dig a planting hole to the same depth as the root-ball and twice as wide. Set the poppy transplant in the hole so that it is sitting at the same depth it was at in its nursery container, and then fill in the hole with soil. Lightly firm the soil around the plant, and water thoroughly to collapse any air pockets around the roots.

Step 4

Space poppies 2 feet apart in all directions. Stagger the rows, or plant in clumps to give a more natural appearance to the bed.

Step 5

Place a 2-inch layer of organic mulch over the bed to preserve soil moisture. Only water during extended dry spells when the plants aren't dormant. Replace the mulch in winter to protect the plants from cold.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not cut off the withered dormant foliage in summer. Instead plant the poppies in the rear of the bed so that the foliage is hidden by other plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Mulch


  • Colorado State Extension: Oriental Poppies
  • Michigan State University Extension: Oriental Poppy
Keywords: planting Oriental poppies, perennial flowers, poppy plant care

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.