TUTORIAL: How to Grow Somniferum Poppies FULL GUIDE

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TUTORIAL:

Growing Papaver Somniferum Poppies:

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papaver somniferum poppy head white outline

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  • Week 1

    Planting Poppy Seeds

    Poppies CAN be very easy to grow, and can also grow almost anywhere in the world, and require very little maintenance (once they get going). Generally speaking, growing poppies can be done almost anywhere.

    HOW to plant, simply cast seeds on top of loose, moist soil. No need to bury them – but you can gently press them into the ground, or toss a very thin layer of soil on top. Mix your Seeds with Sand to Spread them as you cast them.

    Papapver Somniferum Poppy Seedling Sprout
    1 to 2 Weeks

    • WHEN to plant will depend on which USDA Zone you are located in, but generally, seeds will sprout whenever Temps rise above Freezing, as Poppies prefer cool Temperatures during the Germination and Seedling stages. 
    • Poppy Seeds can be planted in either FALL, early SPRING, or BOTH (depending on how Mild your Winters are.
    • Results of Planting in Fall will provide earlier, and much larger blooms the following Spring, whereas Planting in Spring will still result in a spectacular display of Blooms, but just in early Summer.

  • Week 2-3

    Germination Tips...

    Seeds take roughly 2 weeks to Sprout. Alternately, you can plant half your seeds in the Fall, and half in the Spring, but if you get a lot of snow in your area, they’ll die.

    They prefer Temperatures to be between 35º and 65º Degrees (f) for germination. But can withstand warmer Temps when Mature. YES, they DO need LIGHT to Germinate and HATE Transplanting.

     Some people prefer to start them indoors under lights, but be sure to start them in Peat Pellets, as poppies do not transplant well because they have very sensitive root systems and one very long Tap Root that can be damaged easily; killing the plant.

    But once they sprout, you should put down some Slug Bait. Slugs love to eat tender, young seedlings. I suggest using SLUGGO because the active ingredient is iron phosphate, which is completely harmless to pets and animals, and remains even after it rains.

  • Week 3

    Protect Sprouts Outdoors:

       Be sure to be aware of all the creatures that will ruin your poppy growing experience. Birds, for one, like to eat poppy seeds. So you may need protect against them.

    Poppy Sprout at 2 to 3 Weeks
    2 to 3 Weeks
  • Week 4

    Alternatives

        I use Clear Plastic Cups and place them upside-down, to use as mini “greenhouses” until they get out grow the cup – or, you can put up a net above the seeds until they sprout.

  • Week 4

    More Stages:

    poppy sprout at 3 to 4 weeks
    3 to 4 weeks

       Keep the soil moist for the first couple weeks until you see the sprouts come up. Then cut back on the watering, only watering thoroughly every few days. This helps the new sprouts develop a strong root system by forcing them to search for water deep below the surface. Plus, it lowers the chance of mold and root rot, which poppies are very susceptible to. Keep the soil moist but not too wet.

       Be careful when watering not to wash away the seeds or any new sprouts. Water gently with a spray bottle, or use a drip system. I recommend a drip system with either soaker or drip hoses, hooked up to a simple timer.

  • Week 5

    poppy sprout at 5 to 6 weeks
    5 to 6 weeks

         After the sprouts begin to grow, you will have to thin your plants to at least 12″ apart. The more room you give them, the bigger they’ll get. When I say thin, I don’t mean transplant, I mean kill. Just pull up the smallest and weakest ones, and leave the biggest and most healthy looking.

    By doing this, you’ll get more flowers and pods per plant that are bigger, rather than a bunch of weak, single flowered stems.

Poppies don’t need to be watered too often Maybe once or twice a week is fine. But when you do water, give it a nice soaking.

This will promote strong root growth. Poppies also like as much sun as possible. Put them in an open field where they will get a lot of sun.

  • Week 7

    Fertilizing:

    Somniferum Poppy pre bloom Stage
    7 to 8 weeks

      Poppies can thrive in both Alkaline and Acidic soils. A good neutral ph will do. But Poppies suck up a LOT of Nutrients from the Soil.

      For quick release of Nutrients, I suggest using Water Soluble Organic fertilizers. Adding BLOOD MEAL to your soil, which is rich in Nitrogen, will promote ‘Green Growth’.  Then, for the Flowering Stage, a high Phosphorus fertilizer such as BAT or SEABIRD GUANO will work great since they’re water soluble, you can make tea or top dress. 

      For Long Lasting, Slow-Release Nutrients, use NON Water Soluble Fertilizers: Use Supplements such as Feather Meal & Bone Meal, instead. GREENSAND, will help loosen compacted soils and promote Root growth. 

  • Week 8

    Pre-Bloom Begins

    • Longest Day of the Year
9 to 10 weeks

Pre-Bloom

9 to 10 weeks
10 to 11 weeks

Pre-Bloom

10 to 11 weeks
11 to 12 weeks

Pre-Bloom

11 to 12 weeks

Poppies will begin to bloom 10 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them. Their pedals will drop after about 48 to 72 hours. Then the pods will continue to grow for the next couple weeks. During this period, it’s very important not to water them unless absolutely necessary. Once pods turn a bluish tint with a white film on top, they are ready for harvest.

12 to 13 weeks

Bloom

12 to 13 weeks

PRODUCTS…

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108 Comments

  1. gabriella glayds
    01/31/2015 @ 9:57 pm

    Great Tutorial for growing Somniferum Poppies. Thanks!!

  2. hiroko rowena
    02/05/2015 @ 8:50 am

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TUTORIAL!! WITHOUT IT, I WOULD HAVE SURELY FAILED!! BUT INSTEAD, GOT MANY BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS FROM SEEDS I PURCHASED HERE LAST SEASON!!!
    -hiroko rowena

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  5. PromoPimps1
    03/03/2015 @ 10:45 pm

    Can I pay with just a Credit /Debit Card without the need for a Paypal Account?

  6. BlankNothingNoDoer
    03/27/2015 @ 8:44 am

    I live in central Kentucky where it is difficult to grow “spring” or “fall” crops like peas. From March until about May the temperature swings from the low 20s (sometimes teens) into the 80s, and some days we have a 40-50 variance in temperature. Hard frosts and freezes are pretty common. Then from May, June, July, into September and October we have upper 90s and even triple digits some years. (The windchill last month was -36º. I kid you not.)

    What I wonder about is how this affects poppies. This year I planted my first ever Shirley poppies, Shirley double poppies, Breadseed poppies, and California poppies. They’re currently very tiny sprouts and it’s gonna get into the low 20s tonight so I’m worried. I’m also worried about the higher temperatures next month and on.

    Any advice?

  7. Lisa Woodside
    04/29/2015 @ 3:45 pm

    Hi, I recently bought who mature poppy plant they look really Hardy and strong they had long inter dams with black balls on them I’m assuming to open up the flower they’ve been in the ground for two days and still look great but when I came home today I was surprised to find were all off and laying on the ground next to them?

    • OrganicalBotanicals
      03/28/2015 @ 11:39 am

      Plant in Early Spring. If you’re still “Frosting” at Night, then use the “Storage Bin Greenhouse” method I show in the Video (above), or, use the Plastic Cups. This will protect against Frost as well as Birds/Slugs.
      Then, plant them in a place where they only get Morning and/or Afternoon Sun.
      I find that Planting behind Tall Trees or any Structure works well. Just position them so that they’re out of the Sun during Peak Daylight hours.
      Just because poppies like Full Sun, doesn’t mean they need a FULL DAY of FULL Sun.
      They’ll do just fine.
      Poppies only need the Cooler Temps to Germinate.
      Once they’re mature, they can handle hotter Temps (up to 90-95f) – in which case, u can use my “Ice Method” to water them. (explained in one of my replies above)
      Hope this helps.

      • OrganicalBotanicals
        03/06/2015 @ 12:51 am

        YES, you CAN Pay with a Credit/Debit Card WITHOUT the need for a Paypal Account. Simply select the “Paypal” Option when you pay, then Paypal will process your Card, but won’t force you to signup or sign-in to place an Order.
        Thanks!

  8. Travis77
    05/10/2015 @ 11:41 am

    Hi,

    I have a couple of questions.

    —-In your video, you showed poppy plants that were planted at the SAME TIME, but one group was stunted. Will the stunted group of plants still produce flowers ? Will they be smaller flowers ?

    —-I started some seeds in pots ( 12″ pots on a SW exposure) in early April [ Danish Flag, Antique Peshawar White, Black Swan & Ladybird ] up here in Eastern Massachusetts. A nursery woman told me to plant them “closer” to get shorter plants. I planned on planting 5 plants about 5″ apart in an “X” formation. A few came up after a couple of weeks, but were in the wrong places in the pots because of heavy rains. Afraid to move them because I heard they were “finicky”. So I planted more seeds to get them in the “right” spots. Had to keep them moist. I think the moisture made some of the first seedlings “shrivel-up” and die. I called the nursery woman again on May 1st. I told her I wanted to try some more, but to plant the seeds in 6-packs and maybe put the 6-packs in the fridge at night to give the “chill” [ the fridge is approx. 38-40 degrees ]. I did that for a few days then left them outside because the temperatures were running 40-50 degrees. No signs of germination as of May 10th. ???

    —-I also planted some seeds outside in April in a “supposedly” wildflower garden where mostly weeds are growing. The heavy rains seemed to have washed them away. I see some plants (weeds) that look like poppies, but not sure. I have repeated planting more seeds TWICE [ 3rd wk. April & May 1st ]. I’m afraid I might kill these poppy/weeds that are there now with too much water ? [ By the way, I poked a screwdriver into the soil, which was “sandy” and added a little New Era Soil & twirled it around . I put about 4 or 5 seeds in each spot that was dug up & amended with fresh soil].

    I chose Poppies because they self sow are were supposed to be easy and were pest free. I have physical problems that prevent me from planting all the time. I tried all kinds of Petunias last year on the porch. I saw big black ants on my 2nd story porch & found aphids. My hands were killing me trying to spray organic soap spray. Then I got the powdery mildew which basically killed the plants (they stopped flowering).

    By the way, a YouTube [ travis Ebanez ] grower of the flowers in VT said that “light’ wasn’t necessary for germinating poppies in his comment replies ?

    Any HELP or ADVISE would be appreciated.

  9. Travis77
    05/22/2015 @ 2:39 pm

    Dear O.B.— A week ago, I transplanted some small seedlings with 3 sets of leaves. I used a technique where I took 4 plastic credit cards–pushed them down around a seedling (making a temporary square pot). I put on thin strips of masking tape on the corners of the credit cards (above the ground). Then I put an “elastic” (rubber band) around the credit cards. I dug down with a butter knife and lifted out this square temp. pot. I transplanted this (and 4 others into a large pot someone gave me). The problem is that the soil is too “peaty” and my seedlings started to get “yellow” leaves. So, a week LATER, I performed the SAME procedure–dug out all the soil–put fresh airy soil in–then re-transplanted them. When I first transplanted them, I bought a product called “SuperThrive” which helps with “transplant shock”. Do you think the “yellow leaves” will go away ? As this new soil dries out, I will put another dose of “SuperThrive”. Do you think there’s any hope for these plants ? By the way, this is the first time I’ve ever tried growing “papaver”.

    Show less

    • OrganicalBotanicals
      05/15/2015 @ 5:21 am

      The stunted group may produce flowers, but the reason they were smaller was because they were too crowded and perhaps the year before, there were Poppies planted in that spot which sucked up all the nutrients.
      But if you want shorter, smaller plants, try planting in an area that gets partial shade, or maybe Full sun during the morning and afternoon, and shade during the mid-day heat.
      So the fridge, has no light when the door is shut, and when u left them outside when it was 40-50 degrees, was it at NIGHT only?
      Use my ICE Method for watering, cooling, AND allowing light through. Simply put a layer of ice on top of the seeds you plant until u see sprouts. It’ll even protect against birds and slugs.
      I don’t know about this “Wildflower Garden”, but poppies HATE any competition. They can sense other plants around them. They want ALL the Nutrients to themselves.
      I highly doubt rains washed them away, cuz then they would have sprouted down stream somewhere, right? I guarantee you it was BIRDS. They’re not as dump as u think. I mean, they can friggin’ FLY!! – and they have beaks that are actually DESIGNED to pluck Seeds and worms, and all things good from your garden. They might seem cute, but they’re flying devils.
      They know the landscape in their territory, and I bet they were in a tree watching you while you planted your seeds. Even if they weren’t, they can tell when soil has been moved, manipulated, and especially fertilized.
      Even if you hadn’t planted any seeds, and u just buried a sprinkler pipe under the ground. Birds see that as an opportunity to find worms, and other solid dwelling creatures. DO NOT under-estimate the Bird!!
      If you only knew the WARS I’ve have with BIRDS.
      The only bird that helps my garden is the BAT, and what comes out of it’s ass!!
      Why do you think I used the plastic Cup method? Mainly to give the seeds a chance to get past the stage where birds get them.
      I could care less about the person who said they don’t need light to germinate, Travis. Have them come comment here.
      -OrgBot

      • OrganicalBotanicals
        05/02/2015 @ 3:22 am

        I’m not sure if I understand correctly, but I’m assuming you bought a mature poppy plant, then transplanted it and then it died?
        If that is the case, then the reason for this is because it’s nearly impossible to Transplant ‘MATURE’ Poppies.
        You can have success when they’re Sprouts or Starts, but usually only someone with lots of experience growing poppies can achieve this.
        But mature ones, don’t even try it.
        The only other reason for Mature poppies to lay down is Temperature. Anything above 85f- 90f Degrees will cause them to die suddenly (which is how poppies always die. They usually don’t have long, drawn out Death’s like us Humans sometimes do. 🙂
        -Admin

  10. Travis77
    05/29/2015 @ 6:07 pm

    Dear O.B.
    I think my Peshawar White p*ppies are ‘bolting’ already and I can see a bud. They are only 6 inches tall ! It’s only been 7 weeks ? I am growing in 10″ -12″ pots. I could send you pictures if you like ?

    The only things I added to the soil was 1 cup of used dry tea bags (minus the bags) and 1/3 cup of pulverized egg shells, 3 tsp. of a dry pellet fertilizer 6-10-10 (I think) . I used only 1/6th strength of Miracle Gro Tomato Food (MG) 18-18-21 a few weeks ago. The other day the soil was dry (I use that ‘water meter’ thingy–looks like a thermometer) & I used the MG again, but stronger–at 1/2 strength. I forgot I had bought the Alaska Fish Fertilizer. So I quickly mixed up some & poured it on (the soil was already wet from the MG). I used recommended strength [I Tbl. to a 1/2 gallon). The fertilized water came pouring out of the holes of the pots into a bowl I keep under the plant. I used that ‘run off’ and watered the bushes outside.

    We have been having ‘unusual’ warm weather for the past couple of weeks (72 to 85 degrees) for May and no rain. Could it be like lettuce or cabbage–that when the weather gets too hot, those plants ‘bolt’ and send up a flower stalk & go to seed ? But the Danish Flag ones are still forming ‘rosettes’ ? The Burpee ‘Black Swan’ ones have been terrible (1 small rosette and 1 medium sized rosette). I bought some Northrup-King expanding starter peat pots (but they aren’t peat–I think it’s like ‘sawdust’) to start a few more ‘Black Swan’ variety. They are finally germinating.
    Concerning the seeds I planted in the wild flower garden–I think the ants are carrying those seeds away as food. I think next year (if I decide to try growing them again), I might try the ones that you sell that mature in 55 days.

  11. OrganicalBotanicals
    07/03/2015 @ 2:39 am

    As Poppies mature, their lower leaves may begin to turn Yellow, or even Brown.
    DO NOT PANIC!!
    This is actually quite normal, as the Plant begins to concentrate it’s nutrients upwards for Creating the Flowers & Pods.
    Unlike most flowers, poppies actually use up more Nitrogen than any other nutrient during EVERY stage of Growth.
    Although the need for Nitrogen remains dominant, it’s need for Phosphorus, Potash, and other nutrients, still exist for for all other stages, but may vary slightly depending on the type of poppy.
    It’s okay to remove these lower leaves as they begin to brown, especially any leaves at the very base of the stem where it meets the ground, as this may increase the chance of mold or mildew from forming (which poppies are very susceptible to).
    But try to leave others attached and let Nature do it’s job. Poppies use their lower leaves as a way to keep other plants from getting in the way of their Nutrients- so they acttually double as a natural weed block!!

  12. Kalee Spitzack
    07/12/2015 @ 4:24 pm

    I live in Dallas, TX and would like to try a few different specimens of the papaver somniferum poppy. I’ve read that the best time to sow the seeds here is in the fall (most prescriptive time frame I’ve been able to find has been September). If I broadcast the seeds this fall, am I expecting them to germinate this year or in the following spring?

    If I plant the seeds now (july) indoors in peat pots and plant them outside in late september, will they bloom this year before it gets too cold (first frost isn’t usually until november).

    Thanks for your help!!

    • OrganicalBotanicals
      05/30/2015 @ 5:57 am

      Cool, ok. If you wish to submit Pics, do that on THIS PAGE where I have installed a Simple Uploader

      A few of mine are Bolting too here in WA – Two reasons. Unusually hot Weather for this time of year (75˚-85˚ degrees). And the other reason is that I bought them as Plant Starts from my Local Grocer long before I planted any seeds of my own (yes, it’s true- Labeled “Papaver Somniferum” – they sell them every year as shown in THIS POST).

      But I didn’t thin them out as much as I would have liked to. So all the ones that are closer together are Bolting. But there’s one off to the side by itself that has all the room it wants, and it’s NOT Bolting. So it makes sense. If they can no longer grow “outward”, they’ll begin to grow “upward” since their instincts are making them do whatever it takes to assure reproduction occurs.

      As they continue into the Cabbage Stage, it’s important to keep thinning them (I know, it kills me to yank a 6″ inch plant. But it’s well worth it in the end.

      I had a SINGLE Plant Produce over 70 Pods before. Not 7. Not 17. But 70. I have it on Video somewhere. I’ll have to find it. But it’s because it had lot’s of room (and my green thumb)

      Thanks!!
      -OrgBot

      • OrganicalBotanicals
        05/23/2015 @ 4:03 pm

        Yellow leaves at this early stage usually means they need Nitrogen. But I believe it was the transplanting that did them in. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the hand of GOD, you need to be very experienced and lucky to have them live after transplanting.
        It CAN be done, but only when they are really young (first 2 to 4 weeks), and even then, if done by a PRO, they will STILL go into a state of Stunted growth induced by shock.
        Transplanting them is probably the #1 thing NOT to do with Poppies. This is why I go through the extra effort to use Peat Pellets and even those create a whole other set of problems such as stunting growth if you don’t put them in the ground in time for the tap Root to shoot through the pellet.
        They can also increase the chances of mold and diseases later in life because the solid surrounding their root, doesn’t fall away and let it breath like loose soil would.
        These are things I have not discussed above.
        -OrgBot

  13. jerseygirl
    09/06/2015 @ 6:05 pm

    Great tutorial! thank you! I live in Northern CA and it can be hot here in sept/oct. I am confused about when to start germinating and planting. Can you advise? Also, if I plant in fall, will they bloom later in the fall, or are they dormant till spring? We don’t have frost here, so it seems like maybe there are two growing seasons?

    thank you!

  14. Ellis Moore
    09/24/2015 @ 7:44 am

    I am trying to grow, Tasmanian purple and Giant varieties of somniferum, when should I plant? I am in USDA zone 6a

  15. Gianni Miquini
    10/21/2015 @ 11:35 pm

    Hello! Thanks for replying to me on Twitter. I’ve watched your tutorial videos and read this site and I purchased the papaver somniferum mixed seeds some time ago. However, I have a question about when to plant my poppy seeds. I live in USA hardiness zone 9a (I live in South Carolina) and the weather here is quite warm well into late fall. Should I wait until the tempurature during the day droop below 70 degrees F to plant my seeds? Or can I plant them now?

    • OrganicalBotanicals
      09/27/2015 @ 5:57 am

      I assume you get quite a bit of snow of Freezing temps over the Winter in 6A – So planting in Spring just as you’re approaching last Frost would be ideal.
      In fact, if you have a bit of snow on the ground, throw some seeds down and cover them with a thin layer of snow to allow Light to pass through.
      This will also insulate them, provide moisture when needed, and protect them from other pests until they sprout(most of the time).
      For germinating, they prefer Temps just above Freezing at night and Temps around 55 – 65 (f) in the day.
      BTW, where did u buy your Tazzies? Are the the Izmir Tasmanian Variety? Or some other kind?
      Thanks!

  16. disqus_yabofUn7SG
    12/19/2015 @ 2:36 pm

    Hi, thanks for your tutorials. Good stuff.
    Do you have spacing and depth requirements? For example how many inches apart can the plants be, and is there a minimum depth?
    I’m growing several in a small greenhouse, so I have very little space to spare.

  17. mysticalmanatee
    02/10/2016 @ 8:06 am

    Hello, I’ve got seeds on the way from you, but I decided to try and plant some other seeds I had laying around from some dried pods I got from the web. They are sprouting already, after only 5 days instead of 2 weeks. The pods I bought weren’t very good is it possible they were a different type of poppy, not a somniferum?

    • OrganicalBotanicals
      10/24/2015 @ 10:05 am

      Hey, thanks for leaving your question.
      There several solutions to plant during warmer temps. One of which I answered up above in my Facebook Comment (just below the “Products”) where I talk about using a thin layer of Ice.
      I would use Pots.
      Leave about 5″ to 6″ inches of space at the top. So only fill the Soil partially. Be sure to read the “Pots or Not?” Section just ABOVE the Products where I talk about using Layers of Rocks, Perlite, Fertilizer, etc.
      The 6″ of room at the top will serve multiple purposes.
      – One being that you can wrap a Porous garden Fabric at the top (or a Net) – which will keep Birds from stealing your seeds prior to sprouting- and they will still have room to grow.
      – Another being that it can also protect them from Temperatures (both high and low). So if it’s warm like you say, the extra space at the Top can offer them Shade for part of the day (depending on how you position them). Or, since in Pots, you could move them on a really hot day. YES, they need DIRECT Light, but they don’t need it all day.
      – Then as Temps get colder, depending on the fabric you use, it can protect them from Frost (at which point you’d obviously water them with WARM water,
      – Additionally, you can even add Water Soluble Fertilizers on top of the Fabric (keep it tout using clips, bungie cords, rubber bands). Give some slack to it, and set a rock in the middle. That way, the water won’t run off the edges.
      – The last option would be, if you don’t wish to use Pots, try planting them in a place that provides Shade during Peak Daytime Hours. I always plant them North of a tall Tree since we live on the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun will always be slightly South, casting a Northern shadow,

      Also, be sure to read through the other Q & A’s (BELOW). There is actually more up to date info below, then there is above (if you read my answers to other questions).

      Ok, hope this helps.
      -OrgBot

  18. coppercrow
    02/26/2016 @ 7:18 pm

    First, I have to say that I am so happy that I found your website with all its great information and videos regarding everything Poppy. I only wish I had found you a little sooner, it would have saved a few poor seeds (lol) ! Even though your website has a lot of information, I do have a few questions for my situation. I live in zone 9b ( actually almost 10) and I recently purchased some Papaver Orientale and Papaver Rhoeas seeds which I received too late to plant in the Fall. Our so called Winter is all but over with our day time temps already reaching the mid to high 70’s and some of our evenings are in the mid to high 60’s. In your extensive experience with Poppies, do you think it’s worth the time for me to plant now (Feb.26th) ? I do understand that in warmer locations, you recommend using crushed ice on top of the seeds and ice cubes around young plants, but do you think this technique would provide enough “cooler temps” for my seeds to survive and thrive to maturity ? If your opinion for me is to wait until next Fall, where would you recommend that I store my seeds until then ? Thank you in advance for your time….Happy Planting !!!!

    • mysticalmanatee
      03/04/2016 @ 9:38 am

      I should have taken pictures of the pods that I got the seeds from, but I didn’t think of it at the time, and since then those pods got accidentally ground up.

      I’ll go out in a little bit and get pictures of what they look like now, I’ve been concerned because after I thinned them down last week they all fell over and they look a mess. They are still getting bigger though, so fingers crossed.

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