Information on the Care of Poppy Plants

Overview

Poppies are favorite easy-care plants and favorites for perennial borders or wildflower gardens. They are native to Europe, North America and Asia. Annual and perennial poppies each come in several varieties, with one for every garden.

Identification

The Flanders field poppy is an open, 2-inch bloom with a dark center that gently nods atop a 2- to 3-foot stem. Flowers may be single or double and bloom in shades from deepest violet to white.

General Care

Poppies do not transplant well as seedlings and should be sown where they will grow. They require fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. Remove spent flowers to limit self-sowing.

Perennial Poppies

Iceland, Alpine and Oriental poppies are most commonly grown from root divisions. Set plants up to a foot or more apart---poppies need good air circulation. If soil has good fertility, poppies do not need fertilization.

Annual Poppies

Plant corn, Shirley, field (Flanders) and corn poppies in late fall or very early spring. Cover small seeds lightly. Do not overwater. Plant seed every two weeks for continuous bloom.

Considerations

Poppies grow from Zones 2 to 8; each variety grows over a range of a few zones. Allow wider spacing for taller varieties. Oriental poppies' foliage dies back---place them next to plants that will fill in.

References

  • Time-Life Gardener's Guide: Annuals; George Constable, Editor; 1988
  • Time-Life Gardener's Guide: Perennials; George Constable, Editor; 1988
  • National Garden Bureau: Poppies

Who Can Help

  • National Garden Association: Oriental Poppy
  • Floridata: California Poppies
Keywords: poppy plants information, poppies care, wildflower gardens, perennial borders

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.