Poppies date back to Mesopotamia in 5000 BC. They are popular plants because of their huge bright blooms. The perennials are relatively tall and have a bush-like shape. They tend to spread, too, so your garden experiences even more color than the previous year. Bloom time is late spring to early summer. This is the time to pick poppies for curing.
Grow Poppy Plants
Choose a planting site that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily.
Loosen the top 12 to 15 inches of soil with a garden tool such as a tiller. Add 2 to 4 inches of compost to enrich the soil and mix it together.
Dig a hole that is wider than the nursery container holding the poppy plants. Use the container as a guide to exact size. Space out the holes at least 2 feet apart to give the flowers room to grow and spread.
Water poppy plants thoroughly after planting. Over the summer, water them minimally--just when there are extended dry periods. This is the plant's dormant period and they will get moisture from the ground.
Add 4 to 6 inches of mulch around the base of the poppy plant after fall's first freeze. This wil conserve moisture and protect the plant during the winter.
Cure Poppy Plants
Pick poppy plants in the summer when they are at their peak blooming time. Snip them off at their stems so they can be cured and used in a dry flower arrangement. If you want to press the flower in a book, cut them closer to the base of the flower.
Tie the poppies together with a rubber band. Push a pin into the wall or find a hook of some sort (the end of a curtain rod works well) to hang the poppy flowers from.
Place the bouquet upside down for curing. Leave them be until they develop a paper-like, dry appearance.
Cure a single poppy in a heavy book for pressing. Put the flower in between two pages and close the book for a few days. Check it periodically to see its progress. The flower will dry in the pressed shape.
About this Author
Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.