Probably one of my favorite flowers, poppies are amazing. In particular I love Oriental poppies. They stand tall with huge, papery flowers high above coarse, hairy foliage. With a black mound of stamens in the center and a black mark at the base of each petal, they make a bold statement.
You can use poppies in mixed borders or in mass plantings. Most have sturdy stems and will not need staking and are a very long lived perennial. Although red is the original colour of Oriental poppies you can now grow varieties in a wide array of solid and mixed colours.
Poppies love full sun in average to poor, well draining soil. They’re not fussy but do require excellent drainage. They are quite drought tolerant and require watering only in hot, dry spells.
Once the poppy has finished blooming, the foliage dies to ground level and may disappear by late summer. To avoid bare spots in your garden at this time plant them with filler plants, such as asters, Russian sage or mums. If fertilized with a 20-20-20 solution after blooming, they may regrow new leaves and bloom a second time before fall. Allow the foliage to die back naturally in the fall however to feed the roots.
Oriental poppies will often reseed and you will find seedlings around the base of the mother plant. You must transplant these when they are very young to be successful as they will later develop a long taproot. Once established, poppies to not transplant well.
The seed pods are very decorative and attractive and can be dried for use in dried flower arrangements. Pick them when they are green and hang the stems upside-down to dry. Mature seed pods are filled with masses of small black seeds. If planting by seed sow outdoors in late fall. If growing indoors, place seeds in the refrigerator for 48 hours before starting in February. This will help the seeds to break dormancy. Transplant seedlings about 18 inches apart.