Needing seed advice

amester(Z4/5)June 25, 2012

Hello, all you wonderful smarty gardeners!

A friend asked me to pull off all of the seed pods on her (gorgeous, tall, pink-with-a-purple-throat) poppies this year. I have them (and can share!) but don't know what to do with them. I think it's only legal to wildcast them...? (Lest I start an opium den. Ha.) I need to surface sow when it's coolish and keep them moist, right? I'm thinking spring is when I should be doing this? I've also heard that snow sowing is the best way. What has worked for you? (I've checked several sources and they tell me to do everything from an August ignore to a March tending. Help!)

I also have two tulips that set up seed pods this year - crazy! I've read that I can grow tulips from these and that they'll just need 90 days of cooling before I try planting them. Would the seed be ready at this point for me to do that? Anyone ever tried this? Thoughts?

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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Seed pods on tulips? Are they viable? I've never heard of them before! I would think that you could plant them at the same time that you plant other bulbs--90 days of "cooling" could mean different things to different people, so I'd imagine fall when other tulips are planted (I think that's generally October for most RMG zones?)

Anyway, I don't think it's illegal to have poppy seeds--if it is, then my bakery cabinet is in trouble! They sound lovely, and I might take some off your hands if you were to bring some to a swap. However, the only time I ever grew poppies from seed (and they did take), I think I spring-sowed them. Waited until the ground thawed, scattered the seeds, and loosely "raked in" with my gloved fingers--more like smoothed the surface of the soil than anything. I would also imagine that if you wintersowed them and then divided, they'd go much farther as live plants at the spring swap than your having to partition out the seeds to everyone--I bet poppies are ideal for winter sowing! Again, I can't imagine it being illegal to properly plant them--I've seen poppies for sale at all the nurseries.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

What kind of poppies are they, Amy?

Are they Oriental poppies, Papaver orientale? Big plants with lots of large fuzzy soft leaves that look like thistles growing from the base of the plant--bloom in spring and the foliage goes dormant when it gets hot out. (don't have time to live link these!)

Or are they opium/breadseed poppies, Papaver somniferum? Foliage still kind of looks like thistle but is smother, thinner, and grows all along the stem rather than from the base of the plant--often a pretty ugly plant--and blooms a little later.

They both come in pink--and other colors. Flowers are very similar, and seed pods are very similar.

Opium poppies are very easy to germinate and I'd recommend indoors or outdoors in very late winter or early spring--all poppies like cool temps.

Oriental poppies do need light to germinate and I think the easiest way to start them would be to winter sow them and let nature take its course!

About the Opium Den! If you eat anything with poppy seeds in or on it, you're already living in a Den of Iniquity! The poppy seeds used in cooking ARE opium poppy seeds! (And, yes, it IS possible if you eat enough of them to trigger a positive drug test for opioids!)

No problem having or growing them! They're sold at Paulino's, probably Timberline, and most likely other "real" garden centers too. 'Lauren's Grape' is a much coveted opium poppy!'s+grape+poppy&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=6wXpT4DBHofm9ATj-J3VDQ&ved=0CEUQ_AUoAQ&biw=1244&bih=911

Getting the opium out of them, however, isn't all that easy! Very basically, and all I know about it!!!, you need to "score" the seed pods while they're still on the plant, wait for the "sap" to ooze out, collect it, and then somehow refine it! Sound like something you're game to try??? I don't think the drug cops are gonna be around to bust you! I've TRIED growing them 'cause the flowers are SO pretty, but just don't have enough sun, and FIZZLE would be the way to describe my BEST year! Have given up till I have somewhere in the front yard sun to try again!

If you have Oriental, no opium! Nothing but pretty flowers!

So garden on with your poppies. Winter sowing would work for both. If you have somniferum, sow them thinly or you'll wind up with LOTS of them and have to separate or thin them. Somniferum blooms the first year from seed and then dies--I'm sure would self sow if the seeds were left to drop or scattered and then not disturbed. Oriental is a perennial that gets bigger and better every year. If Oriental it'll take AT LEAST two, and probably more years, to get a plant to blooming size from seed.

About the tulips, I don't know! But grape hyacinths self seed and it takes YEARS for them to get to blooming size--and they're tiny bulbs! Seems to me it would take "even more" YEARS to grow a tulip bulb that was big enough to bloom! If you enjoy experimenting as much as I do I'd say Go For It and see what happens! I'd try googling tulips from seed or something like that for info about how to germinate them. I planted some crocus seed I collected one year and put it in an individual pot in a baggie outside--watched it for a while, and when nothing happened I left it in the (closed) bag and forgot about it! Found it the next spring and something was coming up--I did actually get baby crocus----but then I forgot them again in the spring rush and they all died--after all of that!!! Right now I have what I believe is a banana seed that I found at the bottom of a banana in a pot--in a baggie--and I'm waiting! This one won't go out over winter tho!

SO! Do you have a Den Of Iniquity --- or just some pretty poppy flowers?!!


P.S. Next year I'd recommend deadheading your tulips so they don't "waste" their energy producing seed and can put all their "sunlight" into replenishing the bulbs for blooming the following year.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:15PM
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david52 Zone 6

I have those Georgia O'keefe poppies, and the best way I've found is to collect the seed heads once they dry out - which should be soon here, then keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer, then broadcast them on the snow like in February, hopefully you have some snow.

The keeping them in the freezer part is more for bugs.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Sounds like I have Oriental poppies - when I took the pods there were only basal leaves and the stems and leaves were most definitely dormant (i.e., toasted beyond belief!). I have the pods and seeds in a big (open) craft paper envelope - should I spread them out to dry, or just leave them as they are? How long to let them sit before freezing?

I think I'll try the tulips, I usually only take down stems and foliage once they're yellowed out but the pods surprised me so I let them go, just to see what would happen! I found the initial info on Google, so I'll keep going on that.

Thanks, everyone - shares of poppy seeds will accompany me to the fall swap!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 12:37PM
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