Poppies are perennial flowers that sprout almost effortlessly atop well-raked, moist soil. Red poppies, in particular, are known for their extensive use during Memorial Day. According to Lorraine Kiefer, owner of The Triple Oaks Nursery in New Jersey, red poppies would pop up after a major battle at war had ended. You may wish to plant your poppies in time for Memorial Day, or to blend well with the surrounding flowers in your garden bed.
Choose the Right Variety
In warmer zones, such as 7 through 9, California poppies are able to grow in full sun areas with a soil/sand mixture. These poppies can be grown at nearly any time of the year since they are native to warmer climates. They typically bloom over a five-month period, and take 30 days, at most, to complete seed germination.
The Flander's poppy is hardy to the entire continental United States. It takes 10 to 30 days for the poppy to germinate and carries blooms for nearly five months during the summer season.
Choose your poppy based on the zone in which you live. The upper parts of Nebraska through the Dakotas are considered zone 4, whereas Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas carry a 7 to 8 zone. A good reference for your area is the Zone Map posted by DutchGardens.com.
Because poppies normally take 10 to 30 days for germination, you will want to set aside that time frame just for the seed to emerge from the soil. From the time the seedling peeks through the soil, until the poppy will bloom, may take an additional 30 days. Depending on your climate, and the chosen poppy, either spring or fall planting may be desirable.
Planting poppies in the fall is ideal, since many varieties that are hardy in zones 4 and 5 like cold winters. Tossing your seeds above ground, after you have loosened the garden bed soil before frost, is the typical way to plant. You do not need to push the seeds into the ground, but make sure the ground is not stiff when planting. Fall disbursement will allow blossoms to appear just inside of March.
You may also plant poppies in late February, just before the ground completely thaws. Before that winter, you will have loosened your soil, and once February comes, you may toss the seeds upon the ground. This will ensure the poppies will grow in time for Memorial Day. Spring planting is good in zones 6 through 8 and allows blooms to appear as early as April.