How to Cultivate Poppy Seeds

Overview

Poppies are a low-maintenance way to add color to a garden patch, and their ability to reseed themselves year after year means you can spend more time tending to other plants. All poppy seeds sold commercially in the United States are legal to grow -- it's only the Papaver sonniferum variety that is illegal, due to its use in opium production -- and can be easily cultivated in most sunny backyards.

Step 1

Prepare the garden soil. Remove all surface debris and vegetation, including any large rocks. Use a spade and break up the soil to a depth of 12 inches.

Step 2

Mix in an inch of peat moss. This boosts the organic content of your dirt and also improves soil drainage.

Step 3

Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the prepared area. Don't scatter them too densely. Ideally, each seed should be approximately 6 inches away from the adjacent seed.

Step 4

Disturb the scattered seeds gently, using a rake, and mix them into the soil. Don't bury the poppy seeds too deep. For best results, they should be just 1/4 inch below the surface of the soil.

Step 5

Water the area twice daily, or as needed to keep the soil moist. The seeds will typically germinate and sprout within two to three weeks.

Step 6

Cut off the top tip of each poppy plant when it measures approximately 5 inches tall. This causes the poppy plant to branch out, forming a denser plant with more branches on which flowers may grow. Also, reduce watering to once a day or as needed to keep the plants hydrated. This encourages the plant to produce more flowers.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize your poppy flowers. Poppy plants are very hardy and fertilizing them will simply create more foliage growth and less flower production.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Peat moss
  • Scissors

References

  • "Wildflowers: A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Flowers of North America;" William Cullina; 2000
  • Texas A&M University: Poppies
Keywords: grow poppies, sprout poppy seeds, cultivate poppies

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.