How to Feed Poppy Plants


The poppy family, known botanically as Papaver, is a family of flowering annual and perennial plants with hundreds of species that produce tissue-like flowers in a range of bright colors over tall, slim stems. They produce seed heads after bloom and thrive in moist, rich soil and, for most species, low-frost environments. Poppies are grown for their seeds, their medicinal properties and for their flowers. They are light feeders and benefit from small amounts of fertilizer and organic soil amendments applied annually.

Step 1

Fertilize your poppy plants with a complete, balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring after the last frost. Select a fertilizer with a guaranteed analysis of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 and use the dose recommended on the label. Spread the granules evenly around the base of the plant and nestle them into the top inch of soil.

Step 2

Top-dress the soil, over the slow-release fertilizer, with a few inches of aged manure or compost or a combination thereof. This will act to enrich the nutrient content of the soil and feed the poppy plants. It will also serve as a mulch to hold moisture in the soil and keep competitive weeds away.

Step 3

Water the fertilizer, compost and/or manure top-dressing into the soil well until drenched but not so wet that there is standing water around the fleshy roots of the poppies.

Things You'll Need

  • Slow-release fertilizer, 10-10-10 or 12-12-12
  • Compost
  • Aged livestock manure
  • Water


  • Purdue University: Poppy
  • Colorado State University: Poppies
  • White Flower Farm: Poppy Growing Guide
Keywords: soil for poppy plants, fertilizing poppies, best food for poppy flowers

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.