Three Poppy Seed Tips

by Kathy Purdy on January 9, 2014 · 13 comments

in Seeds and Seed Starting

Kathy Purdy on p45 of 2014 Botanical Interests seed catalog

Did you get a Botanical Interests seed catalog? I’m on page 45!

Botanical Interests asked me to submit three tips about poppies and my photo to put in their catalog. They only used one of the tips, but there I am on page forty-five.
Laurens Grape poppy close up

Lauren’s Grape is one of my favorite poppies.

Botanical Interests sells several kinds of poppies, including one of my favorites, ‘Lauren’s Grape’. One year their supplier of ‘Lauren’s Grape’ had a crop failure, and I offered to send them my saved seed so they could grow some on. Who knows? Maybe their current ‘Lauren’s Grape’ seed offering is from descendants of the seed I shared.

As I said, they asked me for three tips, but they only printed one in the catalog, so I thought I’d share all three tips here with you.
1Poppies are so easy to sow! Just scatter them onto the ground where you want a burst of spring color. To make sure you get even coverage try this: Evenly mix a cup of play sand with a packet of poppy seeds. Put the mixture in a repurposed shaker cheese can and sprinkle away. The sand helps spread out the seeds and show you exactly where they are. (This is the tip that’s in the catalog.)
2 Poppies like a bit of cold to germinate. In cold climates that means sprinkling them on bare soil where I want them to grow during mud season, or any time before the last frost. And that means I need to weed the area where I want to sow them the previous autumn! In warmer climates sow in late autumn. Snow on the little seedlings doesn’t seem to hurt them, and they get a head start in spring. You will surely have blooming poppies before me.
3 Papaver somniferum varieties, such as ‘Lauren’s Grape’, can be deadheaded for repeat bloom. Follow the stem of the spent bloom down to the first set of leaves and cut the stem just above those leaves.

Cut here on a breadseed poppy stem to encourage more bloom.

Cut here (click to enlarge)

In many cases you can see the incipient flower bud forming where the leaf attaches to the stem. More pictures about poppy deadheading here.

Because I like Botanical Interests seeds so much, I became an affiliate a while back. If you click on a link to their website from here and then order, I will get a small commission. Don’t forget to check out their poppy section–they have thirteen different kinds!

About

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy's been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

A garden is a lovely thing
But gardens are not made
By saying "Oh how beautiful"
And sitting in the shade!
Rudyard Kipling

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 18, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I will try again this tip about throwing poppy seeds out before the last frost. Of the number of times I have done this, I have never gotten a flower. I will try again. Thanks for the reminder.

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Joene January 14, 2014 at 9:20 am

I just noticed your photo and tip yesterday, Kathy, as I quickly browsed the Botanical Interests catalog. Very cool … and great tips. I’ve planted and grown poppies in the past but voles decided they liked them more than I. I’m now considering trying them again in a different location. Your tips will come in handy.

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Deborah B January 13, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I didn’t know your tip about deadheading to get more bloom! I had such trouble last summer with rabbits eating my poppy seedlings that I dug them up and grew them in containers on the porch. They did fine there despite being moved; perhaps being chewed on by rabbits made them more amenable to being moved.

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Kathy Purdy January 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

That tip only works for the peony poppies, not the corn poppies. And if you moved them and they thrived, more power to you! I don’t know why I haven’t had trouble with rabbits with poppies. I certainly see enough other evidence of rabbits. Maybe it’s because the poppies are always interspersed among other plants.

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Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern January 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

Love, love, love Poppies and thanks for the tips. I must have that Lauren’s Grape! If I do order, I’ll be sure to order from here. Last year, I actually got it together and sowed seeds in the spring snow – the melting and re-melting is supposed to work the seeds into the soil? And as you infer, Poppies like a cooler temperature to germinate in. They came up only to be eaten by the rabbit herd! I managed to see a couple of brave little blooms. I think I will sow them all over the place this year – one lucky spot may be overlooked by the rabbits.

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Kathy Purdy January 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

Tsk. I have rabbits, but I’ve never had them decimate my poppies. You must really have rabbits! Do you have a cat that likes to hunt?

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Angie January 10, 2014 at 1:51 pm

I only grow oriental poppies for now but would love some of Lauren’s Grape in my garden. It’s the perfect colour. I must look out for them over here.

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Donalyn@The Creekside Cook January 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

That is very cool, Kathy! And, every year, I mean to get mine sown super early, and then I forget. I put a reminder in my calendar this year, so I hope that does the trick!

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Lucy January 9, 2014 at 10:56 pm

But a poppy bloom lasts just a day for me! Is it true for all kinds of poppies?

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Kathy Purdy January 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

No, that’s not true for all kinds of poppies, Lucy. The peony poppies will last several days provided you don’t get a pounding rain or strong wind. The corn poppies (P. rhoeas) are not as long lasting, but they are so prolific you don’t notice when one bloom finishes. I think they last more than a day, but I’m not sure, because I’ve never kept track. True poppies (not the California poppies) seem to like a nice rich soil. In fact, we usually get our best show in the vegetable garden.

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Becky January 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm

I’m ashamed to admit the I didn’t notice that was you when I first leafed through the catalog. I haven’t settled down to serious catalog reading yet. I guess the Botanical Seed order will be up next. You look good surrounded by poppies!

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Amy Campion January 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Congratulations! Poppies are gorgeous. I had one stray seedling P. somniferum that came up a couple years ago that produced 25 flowers. I saved seed and will be interested to see if the offspring will do the same. Do you know how long poppy seeds are viable?

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Kathy Purdy January 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

I don’t know how long poppy seeds are viable. It seems to me we have sown them from year-old packets with success, but that’s just a vague memory to go by. You’ve got nothing to lose by trying. You have to give each poppy plenty of room to get that many blooms on one plant, so either sow sparsely or be prepared to thin ruthlessly.

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