Oriental poppies, known botanically as Papaver orientale, are spring-flowering perennials that are showstoppers in the garden. The bloom stalks grow to reach up to 4 feet in height and the individual blooms can be up to 6 inches in diameter. The flowers range in hue from red to orange to clear pink and white with a prominent black center that bleeds onto the inner petal. Oriental poppies are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9 and go dormant during the peak heat of summer. They should be fertilized lightly once a year with a synthetic fertilizer and top-dressed with organic material.
Fertilize your Oriental poppies once a year in the spring when the soil is warm enough to work easily.
Sprinkle a slow-release granular fertilizer product over the soil surrounding your Oriental poppy plants. Apply according to the dose recommended on the label and nestle the fertilizer granules into the top inch of soil with a cultivator.
Top-dress the soil surrounding your Oriental poppies with a few inches of well-aged manure and/or compost on top of the fertilizer. The compost will mulch the soil and prevent weeds but will also boost the nutrient value of the soil and feed the plants.
Water the fertilizer and organic materials into the soil deeply to begin the release of nutrients down to the poppy plant roots.