Poppies and Poppy Seeds

poppy flowerWith so many different varieties of Poppies available for the garden it is easy to see why these colourful plants are so popular. However it is not just for the flowers, the wonderful poppy seed heads themselves can be very decorative in themselves.

Most will flower from spring to early summer, some are annual poppies and some are perennial types.

The annuals include the Icelandic, Californian and Flanders poppies.

Often sown from seed, and also available as plugs they will flower and die, you can collect the seed, and some will self seed.

Perennial poppies are best known for the wonderful showy Oriental Poppies (Papavear oriental). These will live for a number of years, they will die right back during dormancy, to spring back to life in late winter. These grow well in the UK as they get the cold winter they need to flower well.

And of course we have the Himalayan Blue Poppies or Mecanopsis betonicifolia, one of the most sought after blue perennials and again in the UK they grow well although they do like an acidic soil.

Poppy Varieties

Loved both for the flowers and seeds, poppies come from a range of families the best know being Meconopsis, (himalayan poppy and welsh poppy) and Papavear (iceland poppy, oriental poppy) and opium or Papavear somniferum).

However specilaist growers will be able to proves plants and seed from varieties such as Romneya, Eschscholzia, Stylophorum, Argemone, Canbya, Stylomecon, Arctomecon, Hunnemannia and Dendromecon (tree poppy). The poppy is the symbol of eternal sleep.

Growing hints and poppy seed germination.

Poppy seed headHow to germinate Poppy Seeds :: Mecanopsis Seeds and Papavear seeds including Papavear Somniferum Seeds.

With such a range of poppies available specific cultivation notes are not possible. However in general, poppies can be grown from seed, and poppies can be grown in the pots or containers as well as naturalised into the garden.

Poppy seeds do not need to be deeply planted, in fact as poppy seeds in general need light to germinate it is best to only lightly cover them with a fine seed raising mix. Seeds can be collected from ripe poppy seed heads (se picture below)

As with most seeds it is best to sterilise the soil before planting to prevent weeds, boiling water will do the job.

After sterilising the soil spread the poppy seeds and lightly cover with seed raising mix, water in with a fine misting spray. Papavear Somniferum Seeds are widely used in baking, hence the name 'bread poppies'.

John Allman 



You can buy poppies and poppy seeds from the following nurseries in the UK

Southwick Road North Boarhunt Near Wickham Hants PO17 6JH
Phone Numbers: 01329 832294 : 07000 M-O-U-N-T-F :: 07000 F-U-C-H-S-I-A

Flymoor Lane Rocklands Attleborough Norfolk NR 17 1BP - Tel: 01953 488 163

Greenways Lane, Cold Ashton, Chippenham, Wilts SN14 8LA - Tel: 01225 891686
Includes: Papaver alpinum, Papaver anomalum Album, Papaver commutatum, Papaver miyabeanum, Papaver rhoeas 'Mother of Pearl' , Papaver rupifragum, Papaver somniferum, Papaver trinifolium



More Orchid Resources for the UK


John Allman