Papaver somniferum is commonly called the bread seed poppy or the opium poppy. Somniferum translates as “sleep-bringing poppy.” It’s an annual plant that produces pretty white, red or lavender colored flowers in the summertime. When the flowers fade, a seed pod forms: it is the sap within this pod that is used to make the illegal opium. This poppy thrives best in cooler summer temperatures with plenty of natural sunlight. Simulate its natural growing conditions by growing it indoors.
Order seeds from a seed catalog or the Internet and plan for fall planting.
Prepare your planting pots by filling them with potting soil that has a neutral pH (around 7.0 is ideal). Water them thoroughly and allow the water to drain out.
Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of the small seeds on top of the soil. Cover them lightly with a bit of the potting soil you used for the pot. Water again and keep the nighttime temperature a cool 35 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Set up fluorescent shop lights or more sophisticated lights such as metal halide so they hang just a few inches above your seeded pots.
Turn on the lights for 12 hours every day.
Use a light spray to mist your young plants every day and water them thoroughly about once each week. Poppies like to live in moist soil that is never soggy.
Thin your seedlings when they are 1-2 inches tall. Leave the strongest plant in the pot.
Watch for flower buds as your plants grow larger. When they appear, reduce watering and stop misting your plants. If you water them only every 10 to 14 days, they should respond well during blooming.
Increase light to 16 hours per day after flower buds begin to form. You can also increase the daytime temperature to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This poppy also prefers a nighttime temperature of 35 to 55 degrees.