How to Grow Poppies
How to grow Poppies
The latin name for Poppy is Papaver and within that genus are a number of different types. On this page are three types of Poppies:
Common characteristics of Poppies is that they are generally easy to grow . Poppies tend to prefer soil on the dry side, which is well drained, with plenty of sun, with one exception, the exotic blue poppy in the image on the left. This is Meconopsis, common name Himalayan Blue Poppy, which likes cool shady conditions with a damp well drained soil. It is a beautiful Poppy for tips on growing Himalayan Blue.
Image top left is the Icelandic poppy , fully hardy, smaller type growing upwards to 30cms or 12" a biennial and self seeder which flowers are short lived in yellow white orange and picks. It is very colourful and makes a great splash of colour in the border.
Centre and bottom left is Papaver Orientale, the oriental poppy, which is a big blousy poppy with lots of style and colour, and also very easy to grow. It has much larger flowers and has the benefit of being a perennial which reliably comes up year after year. It will tolerate a amper soil than the other two varieties. Whereas some poppies are annuals and bi annuals, the Oriental Poppy is perennial bringing colour to the garden year after year. It flowers late spring to early summer with each stem supporting one large flower. This poppy also likes sun to flower well, but otherwise is not fussy about conditions. The oriental poppy can get quite large large flower heads can be a bit floppy with a risk it will overlay other plants if not staked. The Oriental poppy is a keen seeder and you will soon have other clumps emerging.
The one down side is that the leaves die back on the Oriental Poppy after flowering which can leave a gap in the border. To cover this the Poppy can be grown with Alchemilla, common name Lady's mantle, which produces attractive frothy sprays of foliage which would help to conceal the die back. One word of caution is that Alchemilla is a vigorous self seeder and can be difficult to contain. It is possible to get a second flush of flowers by cutting back the flower stems on Papaver orientale as soon as it has flowered, cut right back to the ground level.
Oriental poppies are suitable for the middle of the border, medium height around 45cm - 90cms. Oriental poppies are easy to grow and reliable flowering plants.
The image on the top right is P.rhoeas also known as Corn Poppy, Field Poppy, and Flanders Poppy which is the familiar bright red poppy. This type of Poppy prefers well drained, poorish soil which is in full sun. As an annual it has to be sown each year, from March to May on soil which is well raked to fine soil and seed directly into the soil. As with all seeds, ensure that the tiny seedlings do not dry out. Poppies will self seed but not always reliable it is very dependant on the growing conditions.