Help with Sowing Annual Poppies in Zone 5

northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)March 12, 2009

Hello everyone:

Would someone please post some definitive instructions on this subject? I love these plants and want mine to be beautiful this year. The first poppies I grew were California Poppies. I wintersowed them, transplanted them into the ground, they grew and bloomed beautifully. Last year I had Somniferum poppies, Allegro, and Flanders poppy and decided to follow suit. Germination was very poor, and of the few I transplanted all but one plant died! I did have time, so I re-sowed them in May and they did well. Sowing in spring is not my favourite option as I always have to weed and cultivate before I can plant. This year I have two shades of Peony Poppy, Angel's Choir, and Somniferum. If you have ever grown these successfully will you please tell me how? Even if it was in Fall, I'd like to know because I can save the info. for next Fall. What about thinning? What should their spacing be? My perennial poppies are very close together and they really put on a fine show. I am running behind this year, just about to start my WSing and would like some guidance. Thank you all.


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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Just as a general rule, members of the poppy family do not like to be transplanted. If you wintersow or start them indoors, plant in individual containers such as nine cell plastic packs, thin one or two to a pack (depending on which type of poppies you are growing) when they start to grow, and when you want to plant them outdoors, do it gently, trying not to disturb the rootball too much. That's why it is often suggested to direct sow the smaller members of the poppy family, such as Arctic, Iceland, Flanders and California.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 12:58PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thanks for the explantion, Ontnative. My option will be to Winter sow them, because I have whitefly problems indoors. Perhaps I can use newspaper pots. However, last year, there was very little germination in the first place. In one pot the seedlings looked like little hairs, which eventually died once I opened up the container (in the shade). I sowed them on Feb. 10. Was that perhaps too early? Can you suggest an optimal time for winter sowing them? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 1:45AM
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mariana2007(6a ON Canada)

I grew just this one, winter-sowed Dec.12 and had very good germination. Planted them HOS when they were with or without second sets of leafs.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 8:58AM
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I have grown Somniferum very successfully for many years, but all but one time they where direct seeded.

They do best if they are scattered, very early in the spring, preferably on snow, or so I have been told and they did great that way for me. But... If you don't have 1000's of seeds, the chances they will land and grow where you want them too may be low. One thing I did though, which may work for you, is I put the seeds into ice cubes! I missed the snow that year, and thought up a compromise and it worked. I 1/2 filled an ice cube tray with water, put 3-5 seeds per cube in the water, let it freeze, added a bit more water, let it freeze (they tend to float, or at least mine did, this helped get them more into the ice). Then, I went outside, and put about 3 cubes in every spot that i wanted a poppy, and... it worked!

There is also a topic started about pipe pots being good for transplanting poppies. perhaps try searching for "pipe pot". I think that the trick to moving poppies is getting them when they are small enough, and making sure you don't distrupt the tap root, which I really think this method could accomplish.

I have transplanted very small poppies with great success. You just want to make sure you leave "tons" of dirt around them, use a full sized shovel even and pretend you are moving a 3 year old much larger plant!

Perhaps you could do some "lasanga gardening" in spots where you want to plant the poppies. Prepare the soil early, lay down newspaper as a weed barrier, then good potting soil on top to plant the poppies in. Mark the spots so you know to leave them when you weed the rest of your beds.

Or, you could sow them with the ice cube method, and put a marker in the ground to remind you of where they are and work with much more caution in those areas. perhaps don't even weed those areas until you know for sure that they are not your poppies!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 4:22PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Northener_On, this is my first year wintersowing, so I can't tell you anything about dates to sow, etc. On the "other" WS Forum, everyone says how easy poppies are to sow and grow. Perhaps you could post a question there. I have grown Allegro poppies, started indoors, but usually I just let my Flanders and Atlanticum poppies self-sow in the garden. I think any time in the winter should be alright to WS. After all, when they self-seed, the seeds are outside all winter and germinate in the spring. Perhaps you had a bad batch of seeds last time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Papaver atlanticum

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 8:17PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Marianna, what a lovely photo!!. But the thought of transplanting anything out that small causes me much anxiety. Besides, what time are they are that stage? I wonder if I will have time to have the area ready by then. You see, the place I have for them is under water or boggy each spring, depending on how much snow we have.

Thanks for your reference to the 'mother' Forum, Ontnative, but I have found that it's best to get growing information from Canadians. Americans can do so many things in their Zone 5 that we can't, e.g. Winter Sow tomatoes. My doubts about self-sowing is that the area is under water in the Spring. Perhaps all the seeds rot.

Homemommy, your ice-cube method is novel and hillarious!! But it is very practical and probably the solution for me. By using the cubes I have more control and can 'plant' them when the soil is ready. Maybe I can also use some pots. Thank you all ladies, now I'm ready to roll!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 12:58AM
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mariana2007(6a ON Canada)

I cannot remember the transplanting time in the garden. But I remember the little seedlings got solid frozen a few times in the containers, and I figured out they will be OK in the ground too. Our frost-free date is June 10. I couldn't waited that long. All my plants got in the ground way before that date. I only lost a few Zinnis.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 9:01AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

We have had such warm temps. suddenly here in Ontario, I think I have missed the Winter Sowing boat already. And the area that is usually under water is dry this year - maybe the city has finally fixed the culvert - I had complained to them for many years. Maybe I will have time to prepare the bed - right now!! Thanks all!!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:26AM
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I winter sowed the Angels Choir poppies last March. I've had the somniferum poppies before and did the same as homemummy, sprinkling them on the snow in early spring. When the snow melts down, the seeds are 'pulled' down into the soil. I never thought about using ice cubes except for drinks! Neat idea. Marg

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:54PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I think you answered your own question about WS in an area that is underwater in the spring. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought most poppies liked a well-drained somewhat sandy soil. I think you're correct in thinking your seeds might have rotted in all that water. Thanks for posting your question. I learned some neat things in the other answers you received. Good WS tips.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:30AM
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