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How to grow poppies in your garden

Poppies hold a special place in many people’s hearts.
Image: Shutterstock

Growing your own poppies from seed is an easy way to add striking swathes of colour to your garden, and a great filler for any unused space. Even better news? Once planted, they’ll come back year after year, forming graceful drifts over time.

Follow our simple guide on how to plant poppy seeds and you’ll soon have lots of these distinctive and delicate flowers to brighten up your beds and borders.

Which poppy variety should you plant?

There’s more to poppies than the iconic red flowers.
Featured product: Poppy ‘Bridal White’ from Thompson & Morgan

You can choose from approximately 120 different varieties of poppy including annual, biennial and perennial flowers. They come in a wide choice of colours – sow a mixture of poppy seeds for a naturalised wildflower garden look, or make a dramatic statement by sowing a single colour en masse.

The Flanders or field poppy (papaver rhoeas) is the simplest to grow, and is best known as a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who gave their lives in the first World War. It’s an annual, bee-friendly variety that’s ideal in a wildflower garden.

If you want a longer-term plant, biennial and perennial poppies make a vivid addition to your garden or border. Oriental poppies have larger, blousy flowers, while Icelandic and Japanese poppies come in unique shades like mauve and gold.

If you’re growing poppies for culinary use, the opium poppy is a good choice. The seeds can be eaten and are used for adding extra flavour, crunch and bite to breads and cakes. Be careful, as the seeds of many other poppy species are not edible. Also, you must not consume any other part of a poppy plant – they’re poisonous.

When to plant poppies

Choose an autumn-sow variety for a great display the following summer.
Featured product: Poppy ‘Hensol Violet’ from Thompson & Morgan

Sow poppy seeds directly into your garden in spring or autumn. If you’re planting early in the year, usually between March and May is best, but you’ll have to wait until the following summer for a healthy display. Sow between the end of August and October for more flowers in the first season.

Check the individual seed packet for when specific varieties should be sown.

How to sow poppy seeds

The elegant poppy ‘Pink Fizz’ has two-tone, pink bicolour blooms.
  • • Choose a sunny spot with good drainage. Weed the area and rake to a fine tilth.
  • • Pour some poppy seeds into your hand and sprinkle them very thinly across the ground to create natural looking drifts.
  • • Allow 7-30 days to germinate, depending on the variety, soil condition and growing temperatures. Keep the soil moist during germination.
  • • Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to around 30cm (12in) apart.
  • • Water the area regularly, especially during dry spells. Be careful not to overdo it as this encourages quick growth and leggy plants, or even rot.

Left it too late to start from seed? You can buy oriental varieties like the satin poppy as mature plants. Harden off outside for 2-3 days when all risk of frost has passed before planting out in fertile, well drained soil.

Top tips for growing poppies

Poppies are a great way to fill unused space and are easy to care for.
Image: Shutterstock
  • • Water poppies during dry spells, but don’t oversaturate.
  • • Deadhead faded poppy flowers often to encourage more blooms.
  • • If left to seed poppies self-sow, so avoid unwanted spread by removing faded flowers in good time.
  • • To harvest seed pods, cut when the pods turn light brown and dry out for 1-2 weeks before breaking open and storing seeds in a jar for up to two years.
  • • Once annual poppies have gone to seed, pull up parent plants and compost.
  • • For biennials and perennials, cut back old foliage to ground level in autumn.
  • • Divide clumps of poppies in late summer when they’ve finished blooming. Take care, as early separation can damage sensitive taproots.

Poppies make up an important part of wildflower mixes, and are a particularly attractive pollinator plant to bring bees and butterflies to your garden – a great way to attract wildlife and get the kids interested in nature.

Learn how to grow poppies in your own garden. Add striking splashes of colour to your borders, rockeries and gravelled areas with T&M’s simple growing guide.

Poppy Seeds

Bright colors and flouncy flowers make poppies a summertime favorite

Whether you’re looking for quick, vibrant color of the Flanders Red Poppy, a rainbow of blooms with one of our Poppy Mixtures or the brilliant orange punch of color found with our customer favorite California Poppy, Poppies are famous for illuminating meadows from Maine all the way to California. These easy to grow flowers will make the perfect addition to your garden or meadow this season. All of the seed we carry at American Meadows is non-GMO, neonicotinoid-free and guaranteed to grow!

  • How To Grow Wildflowers
  • All About Poppies
  • The Red Poppy

Red Poppy, also known as Flanders Poppy, is famed around the world for the carpet of red beauty it creates when in full bloom. A must-have for any wildflower meadow or garden, this e.

Although California Poppies are famous for illuminating entire hillsides on the West coast, their bright orange blooms can be planted and enjoyed almost anywhere. These deer resistan.

Red Poppies are a vibrant addition to any wildflower garden or meadow! This easy-to-grow mixture contains a colorful blend of red, pink, white and double poppies, creating a an eye-c.

If you love the bold, easy-to-grow blooms that California Poppies add to the summer meadow, this mixture is the perfect choice for you! Red, orange and yellow blooms ignite the garde.

The Red Poppy & Coreopsis Seed Combo quickly creates a warm setting in your summer garden, with blooms starting just weeks after planting. This duo doesn’t just look good together.

Deep rose petals soften to a gentle cream color in the center, making this bi-color beauty a must-have in the late season meadow. Shorter in height, Carmine King is perfect for borde.

Red Chief is a striking, scarlet variation of the favorite California Poppy. The spectacular blooms create a bold statement in the meadow planted on its own or paired with other Cal.

Ivory Castle boasts single, white blooms offset by creamy yellow centers. A gorgeous variation of the favorite California Poppy. Extremely easy to grow and beautiful paired with othe.

Similar to the taller variety, Dwarf California Poppies illuminate the garden or meadow with golden-yellow blooms. This easy-to-grow Wildflower is native to California, thriving in f.

This unique California Poppy illuminates the late season meadow with stunning purple/pink blooms. A charming statement on its own or paired with the white California Poppy Ivory Cast.

“White Linen” is the pristine white version of the California Poppy. A great variation on a favorite flower. Annual.

The is the large-flowered “Oriental Poppy”, so loved in gardens. Our seed is the ancestral orange, 4″ flowers. Perennial.

A gorgeous poppy, but not easy to grow. Does well in the west but as a perennial in cold areas only. Annual.

Bright-magenta blooms make a bold statement in the summer garden or meadow, spreading quickly each year. This gorgeous wildflower is easy to grow, tolerating dry soil and full sun to.

Whether you’re looking for quick, vibrant color from Red Poppies or a rainbow of blooms with one of our Poppy Mixtures, Poppies are famous for illuminating meadows in Maine all the way to California. They are also fabulously easy to grow!