Orange poppies, papaver orientale, are easy to grow perennials that are well known for their bright and showy blooms. These flowers are celebrated across the globe and have been the inspiration of great artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and countless poets. These flowers are easy to grow and are not associated with any serious disease once established.
The University of Arkansas states that the Oriental poppy has become the 20th century war flower. “The poppy has been associated with war since at least the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 when Duke Wellington of England and the Prussian General Blucher decisively defeated Napoleon on this battlefield in modern day Belgium,” the web site states. However, it was following WWI that this dramatic flower became an official symbol of war. “The story goes that, after heavy fighting in the area had ended, graves were dug and soldiers interred. The following spring when the graves were visited, they were awash in a sea of red poppies—plants that had not been seen in the region for years.”
Poppy flowers are tall, growing up to three feet, upright perennials that grow in clumps, which can spread up to 36 inches in diameter. The flowers unfurl from a bud which has bristle-like hair and is generally a dark color. In addition the poppy has dark green attractive foliage. Orange varieties include Prince of Orange and China Boy.
The University of Idaho Extension states that poppies are best propagated by seed. “Collect seed the moment it is ripe; quickly dry in a cool place,” the web site asserts. These seeds do not store well and should be used as soon as possible. In addition, UIE says that young poppies can be transplanted easily. However, older ones form taproots and do not like to be moved.
Oriental poppies, Prince of Orange ones in particular, prefer well drained sandy soil. They will even tolerate rocky soil conditions. The more acidic the soil the more likely the flower will take on a pink tint. In addition, poppies like full sun. They are generally found in hardiness zones 4 through 9. And although fertilizing is not necessary, UIE states that it is beneficial.
Orange poppies are a wildflower garden favorite. They are often included in wildflower mixes as well as roadside wildflower gardens. They are often planted by themselves in large plots, with other tall wildflowers such as cosmos and purple coneflower or can be used as a border plant. They make a great cut flower as well.