I can't grow poppies. I must have poppies.

janandalan(Z7-NC Piedmont)June 5, 2005

Hi all,

I moved to N.C. in late 2003 and promptly planted oriental poppies (bare-root) in my flower bed. I also started some from seed under lights in the spring and they grew well and became healthy plants. I planted the seedlings out after the last frost. Both the bare-root poppies and the seedlings did fine for a while, but both started dying back before they could bloom. I tried planting some when we lived in Texas with the same results.

I know that most oriental poppies don't like our heat and humidity, but aren't there any varieties that grow here (and bloom)? DH fears that I am obsessed, in that: even with all of my failed attempts, year after year, I continue to try to grow poppies. Many a dollar has been spent on bare-root oriental poppies, to no avail.



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inthegarden_k(z7 NC)

have you tried any annual poppies?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 4:20PM
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How about those corn poppies that grow along the highways? They are annuals, I believe, and I think you need to plant the seeds in late fall. I always figure that if they can grow along the interstates, they should be able to grow in my garden, but haven't tried for myself yet.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 4:28PM
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puddle_of_mud(NC - zone 7)

I've seen a field of Poppies on the side of the highway. Grown from seed in mass. They are an annual. Very beautiful and very RED! Tell DH that you are NOT obsessed, just determined! That's a good thing.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 4:30PM
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You can grow opium and Apricotia poppies here, too.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 4:38PM
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AngelTrumpeteer(8 NC)

I successfully grew Peony Poppies this year! They;re annuals here. I direct sowed in December or January. Then, forgot I planted them. They came up beautifully. I still have a few flowers, even now.
This year's cooler weather has definitely agreed with them.
They need to be direct sown. They don't transplant well, so, no need to winter sow. (Tried that last year.)
Here's a link to pics, hopefully.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peony Poppy Post

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 10:02PM
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Throw out lots of corn poppy and California poppy seeds at Christmas - mine are blooming now with no futher interaction.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:54AM
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I tried growing a perennial poppy in my garden last year with poor results. It produced one wimpy flower and the plant died by the end of summer. I think it needs extremely good drainage, which is hard to achieve in our heavy clay soils, particularly with the rainfall we get.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 1:17PM
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I was able to grow P. orientale for a number of years, but some years they would only bloom on short squatty stems (because the winters weren't cool enough). Other years, they were gorgeous, but the bloom was short-lived and was usually torn apart by the next storm that rolled through. They truly are not worth it in zone 7. I now grow reseeding annual poppies.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 1:32PM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

Email me for a photo of my annual Poppy garden bed. I winter-sow them in situ during January for Spring germination and flowering (started blooming last week). However, I have also seen them self-sow and germinate in July for next Spring bloom a couple wks earlier than January sown. My soil is heavily- amended clay. For perennial Poppies, add I'd say 60% compost, mound it up adding gravel and plant store-bought plants or sow seeds.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 2:48PM
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AngelTrumpeteer(8 NC)

I have fresh seeds, if you're interested. Email me!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 9:03PM
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summer99(7b SC)

Opium poppies are VERY easy here! I have heavy clay amended so-so and I scattered some seed a few years ago and I have them every year now...they are just wrapping up their bloom. Theie are reds and pinks, singles, and doubles. Beautiful!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 9:07PM
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I've had papaver somniferum grow well and reseed into a well-drained site every year *except* this spring. They just seemed to have disappeared. I've had that confirmed by 3 other experienced gardeners. Anyone else notice this?

As said, poppies in the South are possible by fall/winter seed sowing. Your bare root plants are likely to die; poppies resent being disturbed.

I just got back from Asheville, and the sides of I-40, past the Hickory weather line are right now aglow with bright red poppies. Hooray, NCDOT! Trees in Asheville are just leafing out--- drive back here, and it's oppressive heat. What a weirdo spring!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:03PM
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janandalan(Z7-NC Piedmont)

Well I guess it'll have to be the annual types. I'll try some opium poppies and maybe the "Flanders" poppies this winter. (I think those are the red ones that they plant alongside the highways). Still it would be nice to have the oriental types. They're so pretty.
Thanks all.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 3:53PM
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I went to a certain estate in Hillsborough for a plant sale and they had the most beautiful self-sown poppies growing everywhere. I think they were Shirley poppies in all shades of purple, pink and white. I am going to seed this winter and see what happens.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 4:42PM
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Poppys winter sow so easily! Any type of poppy works, in feb or 2006 plant seeds in a milk jug filled with potting soil. I sowed mine directly on top of the soil.I have blooms everywhere from them, every single seed seemed to germinate. Planted hunks of seedlings in the garden in march. Have never had them before and they have been wonderfull. The winter sowing forum is great if you have any ?'s on this.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 8:44AM
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I've grown Orientals before and they ain't worth the trouble. The photos you see of them are the one day they are in peak flower. Flowers shatter (drop their petals) in any amount of breeze and only last a day or so. If the spring is cool you get longer stems which subjects them to more wind and earlier shattering, if the the spring is warm you get short quick blooms with flowers lasting only one day. They are big and luxurious but so short flowering that they aren't worth the trouble. And they only flower that one time so if you miss it you missed it for good. They are also very difficult to get to last through the hot summer, so they aren't really perennials except in very few places further north (but even up there people have trouble with them). Don't believe the photos you see!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 2:17PM
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TerriBuck(7b NC)

I have Icelandic poppies (yellow). They are earlier bloomers and they reseed quite well for my neighbor. Mine are in deeper shade and haven't resseded. I like the foliage almost as much as the flower.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 6:13PM
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janandalan(Z7-NC Piedmont)

Thanks folks, I'll try some new types this winter. (Anything but the Orientals). The pictures of the Opium Poppies are beautiful. They actually look a lot like some of the Oriental Varieties.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 10:22AM
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vlygrl(z6 VA)

Those of you who think your poppies died - do you know they go dormant after blooming?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 1:05PM
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Has anyone grown Shirley poppies? I see them in magazines and they look beautiful, but I don't think I've seen them in real life.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 3:28PM
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They had some in the field trials out at the Arboretum here in Raleigh a few years ago and they did ok. A lot like Iceland poppies. Need the cold weather. Die once it gets hot.

The word poppy is almost as bad as the word daisy. There are so many species that are called "poppy" that are not even closely related. At least most of them look similar. Not all of them are true perennials (which would live for years after they bloom, or go dormant during the summer or winter). Some of them are true annuals which means the entire plant dies after it sets seed regardless of the weather or how old it is or whether it takes one year to get to that point. So some types of poppies cannot be counted on to come back after experiencing the summer highs down here around Raleigh. Other areas may have different stories.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 4:26PM
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Tammy Kennedy

california poppies aren't too hard here either, & they have wonderful foliage. i've killed many an oriental poppy seedling, direct sown & bareroot alike. they just can't seem to cope. i've been told where they do well you can't kill them. i have a friend (in raleigh) who has a glorious patch & she shared some with me this spring. no bloom, & they are dormant now, but maybe it'll come back next yr. we'll see. i've never had much luck with the icelandic ones, either. wonderful colors, though. one note- all of them only bloom for a couple days for each bloom. but they have such a succession of them that the bloom time can be 4 weeks or more.

the breadbox/opium poppies come in many different colors, fyi. purples, pinks, reds & apricot shades. the seed pods are awesome, too. the blotches aren't true black in the lighter shades, but pretty purples & such. i had one plant that was just stunning this yr compared to the rest of them. hoping more come from that seed next spring than the others. good luck!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 6:32PM
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Celadine poppies (stylophorum diphylum)are wonderful in woodland gardens, and aren't they natives here? Nothing like oriental poppies, but so beautiful in the spring.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 1:50PM
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Celandine poppies are native here.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 2:06PM
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Alicia- I accidentally grew Shirley poppies here this season. They were in a mix of seeds that I flung into an area that I didn't really care about. They were VERY pretty, and of course now I want them everywhere next year. Very delicate looking flowers and okay foilage on them.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 7:46PM
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I'm lucky and have a gorgeous, huge sweep of perennial poppies but when they're done, the yellowing leaves are so ugly. Anyone have any interplanting suggestions that can compete with the fiberous roots? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 8:53PM
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woodywoodchuck(Wake Forest, NC 7)

I thought poppies were a warm weather plant, but by the posts they are blooming in early June?

I would love to try some, would I have any luck spreading seeds now or should I wait and fall sow?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 8:25AM
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I have Shirley poppies this year and they are beautiful. Good thing this May hasn't been hot.

I've grown these poppies, breadseed, and apricotia and I put the seed out in fall and winter.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 9:13AM
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Tammy Kennedy

here poppies are a cool weather plant. they bloom in april-may-june (depending on which type & where you are), because people have fall sown them. they dislike transplanting, and really do well if direct sown, even as late as jan/feb if the winter weather is warm. better to do it in the fall, though. they will sprout, then stay small during the winter, and at first hint of warmth shoot up. try it this fall & look on in wonder as they bloom their heads off! if you let the seeds drop, you'll have some the next yr as well. i had 1 large opium poppy in one bed last yr & didn't get to the seed, well this yr i have a thousand in among my lettuce. very pretty (if a little aggravating to get the lettuce). this yr i WILL be collecting the seed so i put them where i want them. lol. tammy

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 9:58AM
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I grow California poppies here in central SC, and some of them rebloom for me, coming back earlier and larger. The plant does go dormant in the heat, but the foliage reappears in the fall and remains throughout the winter. My Shirley poppies are also doing nicely, but the poppies I'm most excited about are the Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' which is about to open.

Here are a few recent photos. The first two are California poppies, and the next two are Shirley poppies:

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 12:38PM
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Pretty! I love all of the different shades of colors in the Shirley poppies. A neighbor had California poppies seed in and come back for several years. They always make me think of John Steinbeck's description (East of Eden): "not orange, not gold, but if pure gold were liquid and could raise a cream, that golden cream might be like the color of the poppies".

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 5:20PM
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alicia, I'm going to save that quote; it's lovely.

This morning my very first breadseed poppy opened up (notice how I didn't say "opium poppy"?). It's Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape'. I wintersowed the seeds January 16 and planted the seedlings March 23.

Wish the photo were better, but here it is:

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 12:10PM
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Tammy Kennedy

WOW!! love that color. a friend & i split some of that seed couple yrs ago, but i think we went bust. will have to order it again. she had some of the 'heritage' ones they sold, and they are similar colored, but with ripped upper edges. pretty. tammy

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 3:18PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

Has anyone's winter sown (on site) poppies popping? I'm patiently awaiting mine. :::::toes tapping:::::

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 3:41PM
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I'll have to look tomorrow. This is a long lived-thread!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Did you direct sow them? To hasten, I put a plastic container over the seeds, that helps with a bit of "greenhouse" effect...

If you wintersowed them in containers - they are sure to germinate - just give it some time - Mine germinated a while ago (I did them early), froze and now today defrosted and they are fine. They are really hardy!

Good luck


    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 6:50PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

I direct sowed them about 3 weeks ago.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 7:07PM
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I wintersowed my first ones and then after that I would just scattered some of the seeds as I was harvesting. I don't know which kind they were. I got them in them in newbie package. But the foliage looked like the above picture. But then again maybe all poppy foliage looks the same! Shannon

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 8:07PM
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Tammy Kennedy

i need to get my seeds out. no, shannon, the foliage is different for the different kinds. most of the ones that do well here are annuals. i'll butcher the latin without looking them up, but here goes: there's calif poppies (eschscholzia sp, 4th & 5th pic up from here) which have ferny grey leaves and 4 bright yellow to red petals and sometimes are perennial; oriental poppies (papaver orientalis)that are lots of warm red tones have deep green very hairy leaves and are perennial but extra hard to grow here; breadbox poppies aka heroin poppies (papaver solumniferum) in the cool red, pink & purple shades which are large and have grey smooth leaves (that's what the purple pic is above); shirley/flanders poppies (papaver rhoeas, 2nd & 3rd pix up) that are in the cool reds family the foliage & plants is much smaller, green and hairy than breadbox, and iceland/gartford poppies (papaver nudicale) in yellows and oranges which have very hairy grey foliage, and the blue poppies (meconifolia sp) which don't grow here at all and have green hairy foilage. there are more kinds, but those are the ones you're likely to see seeds sold for. to me the easiest are the california, shirleys and breadbox. the californias have the most different foliage- looking like a stretched out rue or something. so far as i recall the only ones with smooth lettucey but grey leaves are the breadbox. they are 3-4' tall or more, where most of the others don't get so big except the orientals.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 11:31AM
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I can send you white poppy seeds. They are easy to grow and will bloom most of the season. Send your addy if interested.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 11:04AM
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Hi janandalan. Contact Suzanne Edney on Kelly Rd in Apex. She took me to a poppy garden years ago and she will be able to direct you to the correct seeds for your wonderful poppies.
She's also a landscape designer of many years. Linda

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 2:38PM
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janandalan(Z7-NC Piedmont)

Wow! I can't beleive this thread is still going! I haven't posted to GW in years. Since 2005 I have managed to successfully grow some flanders poppies from seed and posess several perennial poppies of unknown vintage bought at the farmer's market last year that haven't yet died or bloomed. I guess that's progress! Check out "Annie's Annuals" at this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Annuals

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:21PM
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Hi. Has anyone ever direct sown Giant Peony Poppies in zone 7A? The seed package says to wait till the soil is warm in late Spring to SUmmer and direct seed. I am getting married June 13th and want to supply the flowers so I just sowed half the package in a lightly raked bed today and was planning on saving the rest of the seeds for Spring. Should I ignore the package instructions and plant the rest of the seeds now? I've always direct seeded Shirley poppies and Larkspur from late September through early February and have had beautiful flowers blooming from late May through mid June. Although, the early Fall sown Poppies are the prettiest. Are Peony Poppies more of a tender annual than other varieties? Thank You.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 2:42PM
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Tammy Kennedy

Carrie- does the packet happen to have the species name on it? It depends on which kind it is and where you are. Here in the raleigh area, poppies bloom starting in late april through late may. Unless we have exceptionally cool weather i don't think you're going to get reliable blooms for mid-june here. That said, if you're a good bit further toward the mountains (and 7A says it's colder than here which is 8a/7b), then you might just squeak some blooms out if they are shirlies- p. rhoes-, or p. somniferums, aka bread box or opium poppies. My guess is that 'giant peonies' are somniferums, but there are rhoes cultivars that are double and called peony, too. They aren't nearly as large as the somniferums when they bloom, but just as pretty. If it's either of them, i'd sow the rest of your packet in just a week or 2- don't wait any longer or they won't get big enough (like you've already observed in the past). They need light to germinate, so sow them directly on the surface and just tamp them down or walk on them. I wouldn't worry about hardiness- poppies like cold to germinate. Another flower that would be a more reliable bloomer for that time of year would be daylilies if you can find a friend who has some they'd let you use.

Another nice plant for bridal bouquets (if a bit wild) is queen anne's lace. It does wilt fairly fast so you have to plan to pick and use it the same day. You can find it in fields or along the road.

Not sure of your colors, but as you mentioned, larkspur are nice and easy, as are nigella and bachelor's buttons. They all bloom about the same time as the poppies but keep going a bit longer. also, poppies and nigella have nice seed pods you might consider using. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 7:24PM
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Thank you for your generous help. I went ahead and sowed the poppies. Hope to have a lot of beautiful pictures to post.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 4:19PM
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growdan(10 & 11)

Will poppies grow in zone 11 no chill at all?


    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 4:53AM
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Tammy Kennedy

I don't know- but i kind of doubt it. I'd sow them just before your coolest time of the year and see what happens. Try california poppies- i think they can deal with more heat than the other types.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 10:58AM
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I have all kinds of california, rhoeas and somniferum poppies in my beds right now. Make sure the ground is tilled up and or loose, scatter the seeds in NOVEMBER and you will have poppies. I do not go out of my way to water them when I scatter the seeds. I do water them at this time of year because it is getting hot for them. I have not had good luck with orientals and the somniferum are iffy at best but worth the effort last year they were 3 ft tall. California's are great and very heat tolerant ... IF you leave them alone and let them dry up the plant will come back the next year plus they give you a great burst of orange!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 8:10AM
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