Poppies bring color to beds and borders, blooming in shades of red, yellow and orange. Most garden poppies are annuals, though perennial varieties like Iceland poppies are also available. Many annual varieties feel like perennials in the garden, though, as they readily self-seed themselves year after year. Plant poppy seeds directly in the garden in late fall or in early spring as soon as the ground thaws enough to work. Soon, you will be rewarded with an abundance of flowers.
Lay a 2-inch layer of compost over a garden bed that receives full sun and isn't prone to standing water. Till the compost in to a 6- to 8-inch depth, improving drainage and soil nutrition.
Create ¼-inch deep furrows along each planting row, spacing the rows 12 inches apart. Use the tip of a rake handle to make the furrows in the bed.
Sprinkle the poppy seeds in the furrows, spacing the seeds approximately 3 to 4 inches apart along the furrow. Cover with ¼ inch of soil, then mist the surface of the bed with water to moisten.
Water as necessary to maintain a moist but not soggy bed after planting in spring or once the soil thaws in spring after fall planting. Seeds germinate in one to three weeks.
Thin the poppy bed so plants are spaced about 12 inches apart in all directions. Pluck out the excess plants, taking care not to disturb those you are leaving in the bed.
Reduce watering once poppies begin to bloom. Water once every one to two weeks, providing just enough moisture so the bed feels moist when you stick your finger in the soil.