Oriental Poppies - can't make them grow

truckaduck(5)September 1, 2013

I've always wanted oriental poppies but just can't seem to get them started.

I've tried starting them from seed: direct sow in the spring (nothing)
direct sow in the winter (nothing)
inside the house on a seedling mat (got seedlings, planted them, but they died).

I gave up on seeds and bought two plants, which I put in the ground this spring. They did alright for a while but then withered and now appear to be completely gone.

First question: is there any possibility the plants aren't actually dead and will return in the spring?

Second question: what am I doing wrong here? So many people in Denver have huge gorgeous plants!

Mine were in full sun and surrounded by wood chip mulch.

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Duck,

You're not doing anything wrong! Oriental poppies are "summer dormant!" They come up in spring when it's still cold, happily bloom, and then "go away" when it gets hot out. Sometimes they regrow some foliage again when it cools in fall--just depends on the year. So don't let yours dry out ALL the way, but don't keep them too wet--they don't like much water when they're dormant.

Be sure you remember where they are so you don't accidentally "mess with them," and wait for them to come back bigger and better next spring! (And if they should start to grow again when it cools, just treat them like any other perennial.)

From Kanab, Utah--where all the National Parks are getting flooding rains right now,

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 6:57PM
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For reals?!

Okay I'll leave that spot alone and we'll see what happens in the spring.

I'm excited to see what happens now, thanks so much. :)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Yep! For real!!!


    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:34PM
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I gave two big pots of them at the spring swap. Hopefully they lived for the people I gave them to. I would like to hear from those people and see if the transplanting worked as moving poppies can be tricky.. If it did, I'm your girl! I've got a good size patch that I will be digging up in the spring. They have gone crazy and I plan to greatly reduce their numbers. They are the orange orientals. If yours don't come back, or you want more, hit me up in the spring, and I could bring some to the swap again.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 11:02AM
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Just remember the old adage of perennials; 1st year they sleep, 2nd year they creep, 3rd year they leap! Keep it around, and you'll be surprised how quickly it will fill in!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 10:28PM
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xaroline(zone 3 Calgary)

Good advice on Orientale poppies here!

I remember Kanab, Utah! It was very dry that year, and the RV park people came around to make sure that no one had leaks or was wasting water. We enjoyed the National Parks near there.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 6:46AM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Cat, I was the recipient of some of your poppies, and we did manage to transplant some of them, but unfortunately it was about a week or so after the swap, and let's just say that they weren't happy. As we planted them in a new "tree ring" that we had built, we planted lots of stuff around them. They weren't happy at being re-transplanted, but didn't immediately keel over (although they sure wilted to beat the band, the little drama queens), but then they did kind of 'go away.'
We did sell the house, so I don't know if I'll be able to report that they come back up next year or not--we haven't yet driven back past the old place since we left, and might not come spring. I do have to say that the grape hyacinths that we took home that day did a similar sob story--major wilt and passed out; I though they were goners for sure. However, before we vacated on 8/23, I did see that they were sending up new tendrils of green, seeking some strength to store for the coming winter. I'll be sure to ask my old neighbors, with whom we are still friends, if they see any poppies in the spring, cuz if I had to answer right now, my money would not be on seeing them in the spring--again, alot of that would be our fault for the major delay in getting them into the ground.
However, that purple-flowering vine (I can't remember who brought it) that nobody knew what it was and was touted as possibly taking over an area? Yep, that stuff was going bananas--taking over the new tree ring, but not blooming,in the shade, under the tree... maybe it was a full sun plant? I thought I saw some of it blooming when we were at the zoo this past weekend, the hummingbirds were going nuts over it! I'd sure like to have some more of that for the new digs come spring!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 7:15PM
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Cat, that would be wonderful! When is the swap? I am new to the forum and clearly somewhat infrequent. This group is great.

The poppies are completely "gone", I'll be sure to report back in spring.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 10:41AM
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I have 2 different orange perennial poppies. I tried several locations before I found one they were happy in. One is just a clump and has never spread. The other has roots that spread like crazy and pretty much has taken over the whole side of the garage. The clump one does not come back in the fall but the spreading one does. Not enough to bloom again though.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 12:51AM
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david52 Zone 6

Seeing this thread again - if you happen to have the orange oriental poppies, and didn't bother to dead-head them over the summer, now's the time to go out and pick the seed-heads - if they're still be standing - mine are.

Then when it snows, scatter the seed on the snow were you eventually want them to grow.

When they take off, the wee plants sure look a lot like thistle, so be careful.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 7:54PM
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I bought some plants in the fall, heads still on so I'm going to try this.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 1:13AM
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