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A Visual Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Grow Poppies. With Photos, Videos, and Detailed Text on the DO’s and DON’Ts when Growing from Poppy Seed to Flower, to Pods
Please Post Any Inquiries you have by Commenting Below and I will answer in great Detail within 24 hours MAX- so that others may Benefit from the info.
Before we begin, many of you may be wondering:
“Is the SOMNIFERUM Poppy Legal to Grow in the USA“??
What do YOU think?? You might be surprised if you read our “Poppy Laws” Post
Poppies CAN be very easy to grow, and can also grow almost anywhere in the world, and require very little maintenance. Generally speaking, growing poppies can be done almost anywhere. When to plant will depend on which USDA Zone you are located in. As poppy seeds are very small, it can take anywhere from four days to three weeks until sprouts germinate.
The best times to start growing poppies and plant seeds is either early Fall, early Spring, or both (depending on how Mild your Winters are. Planting in Fall will result in earlier blooms the following Spring, whereas planting in Spring will result in Summer blooms.
Alternatively, 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.
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.
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 to use Clear Plastic Cups placing 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Growth throughout it’s Lifecycle, as Poppies are NITROGEN Dominant at ALL Stages!. Even for the Flowering Stage, poppies need MORE Nitrogen, than Phosphorus. But they sell other fertilizers such as BAT GUANO (there’s a HIGH Nitrogen one, and a high Phosphorus). All these 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. An N-P-K of 6-3-5 is preferable.
Poppies will begin to bloom 10 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them. Their petals 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. Keep plants in the ground, until pods turn brown, and rattle with seeds. Then, they are ready for harvest.
WATCH the “HOW TO GROW“ INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO BELOW….
(if u don’t see THIS VIDEO above, try adjusting your Browser Settings (for FireFox™, just Turn Off “Tracking”)
Login to Comment with Questions BELOW:
07/20/2017 @ 8:08 pm
Thanks for the reply on email concerning planting around Memphis TN. I’m still not sure where to post but for every one reading, I live in the south and July and august both avg high temps ~ 93. Here is the take home message for all who live in 90+ temps: HOW YOU PREP THE SEEDS WILL HAVE NO BEARING ON YOUR FINAL PRODUCT, because the plant just can’t handle the heat. If you find a way to make your plant live for 20 days instead of 15, yield is still 0. I do have a question. The response you gave me is by far on par with the majority of opinions that I have read, although not all. In fact I spoke with one person who lived 20 miles from here and he said he had no problem. He said that he would have plants come up near the trash or other places where seeds would end up unintentionally. To say his description sounded like he was speaking of an invasive weed would not be an exaggeration. As a biologist and chemist, I am left wondering what would account for testimonies that are on two different extremes pertaining to the care needed and the adaptability of the plant to thrive. He had no reason to lie, so that leaves if nothing else, the seeds. Is a seed a seed? Or are there factors that cause damage to the seed? Are there strains with genetic mutations or markers? How resilient are the seeds if the seeds are capable of being harmed?
08/03/2017 @ 2:21 pm
Seeds are sometimes irradiated, which could cause the Germination Rate to dip down slightly, but won’t effect your final outcome.
Here’s where the confusion may be when it comes to your “20-mile friend”, in that, the plants he spoke of, if in fact were “P. Somniferum” (and not one of the 60+ other Genos out there), then it may have been that he was speaking of plants that had already past the seedling stage, and were almost mature.
In which case, it’s perfectly normal, as I speak of in the Tutorials, the Plants can withstand Temps of up to 95º Degrees (F) or more once mature.
It also sounds like his plants may have been protected by shade, since grown near structures that could have provided shade to the plant during the “peak Hours” of the day, which is another thing I suggest in my LATE BLOOMERS Tutorial for Warmer Climates.
The reason why the seeds require such cool Temps, is because they are already pre-programmed to reproduce (just like all living things on earth). So, if they don’t think they will be able to grow to maturity, why would they even try?
All their Genetical Programming comes from previous “Surviving” Generations, which most likely sprouted in ideal Temps around 40º to 70º (F), then experienced a rising in Temperature of, say 30º to 45º Degrees from the time they were planted (Spring), to the time they matured (Mid Summer).
So if you try planting them when it’s 90º degrees, then they will assume the same (that you’re planting them in Spring), and they already know that once they’re mature enough to reproduce, they can’t survive in Temps 30º to 45º Degrees above 90º (135º F).
So they give up.
Now that doesnt mean it’s IMPOSSIBLE to “Trick” them (which I provide SOME methods in my LATE BLOOMERS Tutorial), but, like I always like to say: “Poppies are sensitive little Bitches”.
BUT WHAT ABOUT PLANTING IN FALL??
For Fall planting, at least for me in my area, I don’t notice any sprouts begin to pop up until the Rains return, and the Temps begin to drop down below 70º / 60º.
Which is good, because you want to make sure you have time for Harvest, and Soil Nutrient replenishment before anything sprouts.
TIP: Break up all your old, dried out Poppy Stems, leaves, etc. and mulch them back into the soil for nutrients. Also add Organic, Water-insolubles such as Bone & Feather Meal, Greensand, Seashells, etc. Poppies are NITROGEN DOMINANT throughout all growth Cycles. So an N-P-K of 6-3-4 should suffice.
07/29/2017 @ 5:14 pm
What are ALL of the ingredients I will need to start growing?(i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, nutrients, etc) If you could compile a comprehensive list of everything I will need, it would be extremely helpful. You have the most detailed, effective tutorial on the web so far. However, it could greatly benefit from a shopping list of sorts. As with any good recipe, one must properly obtain all of the necessary ingredients in order to be successful. Thanks
08/03/2017 @ 3:02 pm
That would be a good idea. I might try to figure out a way to make something generic and include it on the FAQ Page.
I’m assuming you DID get a chance to see our FULL 5-Part Tutorial? (which we had to cut into 5 parts due to the mere size of the data included)
Especially our replies to the 130+ Comments on Part 1.
Where we’ve covered all of your Inquiries multiple times over.
But I get it.
Who wants to dig through a bunch of content.
My only hesitation would be that I only know what works for my area, but as far as nutrients, etc, I think I could come up with something.
Good idea. Thanks for your input.
I will most likely add it to our FAQ Page after I scrape through all User Comments for some of the most commonly asked material.
If you want to “Follow” our Blog, you can be notified once I post it.
Probably won’t be until after harvest when I have some extra time though.
07/31/2017 @ 6:43 pm
Hi , ive tried this summer but nothing came up… My area has a top soil layer and sand underneath it. You recommend a npk of 6.3.3 but what pH level should i water with? And should i do an automatic watering system since im in field. I tough of putting promix earth since its the fluffiest earth i know, but i also tought of putting perlite so itll be easier for the roots to develop. What is the best for field size work?? I planted more than a million plants….
08/03/2017 @ 3:37 pm
– Perlite is mostly only useful if growing in Pots, however, in the field, I personally use it ABOVE the soil- about an inch of it at the base of each plant surrounding the STem to prevent any Rot/Mold/Moiture issues.
– Ph, nuetral is fine – they can thrive in Acidic or Alkaline.
– What were the temps when you planted? I see you’re in Canada, but you want the Temps to be between 35º-65º (F) for germination up until the seedling stage.
– You also need a solution to prevent birds from eating your seeds for the TWO WHOLE Weeks they have to eat them before seeds germinate (10 to 14 days) – and since Poppies are planted at the surface, you basically just fed the birds. I always say: NEVER under estimate the Bird. They will mock you.
– NEXT: Slugs. You won’t see them during the day. What prevention did you use against them?
– FOR ROOT Growth, try Greensand. Or something like a 6/3/4 (NPK).
– In the field, you want to use a SOIL CONDITIONER to mix (till) into your present soil. BLACK GOLD sells it by the Cubic Yard. It’s mostly Peat Moss and worm castings. (is that what Promix is?? IDK)
– FYI- I wouldn’t suggest using manure based additives (which I see you haven’t – nice)
– You planted over a Million SEEDS?? or PLANTS?? HUGE Difference.
– On average, you should expect about ONE Mature Plant per 100-1000 Seeds (after thinning). The reason for such a broad range, is due to all the variables (grower experience, seed viability, casting methods, etc)
– Some mix seeds with SAND to spread while casting. I would use SALT instead (keeps slugs away, retains moisture, is light colored so you can see how thin your “MIX” is prior to casting).
– Did you get a chance to see our FULL 5-Part Tutorial? (which we had to cut into 5 parts due to the mere size of the data included – Best Viewed on Desktop or Laptop)
– There is also lots of info in our replies to the 130+ Comments on Part 1.
– Ok, I think I gave enough FREE EDUCATION for today (and I don’t remember selling anyone “millions of seeds”).
But still glad to help, but need to move on to help other Customers right now.
02/26/2018 @ 7:00 pm
I live in south Louisiana. Zone 9. Are there some variety’s that do better in warmer climates than others? If so, could you suggest a few?
02/27/2018 @ 12:00 pm
• No, not really. When it comes to Papaver Somniferum Poppies, they will all require the same conditions. (unless you plant the only 55-day, Quick Maturing, “Izmir Afghan Poppy”: aka: the Late Chinese Seeds” – which aren’t the cheapest, but are superior).
But even they prefer the same conditions as all other Somniferum Poppies:
• COOL Temps, LOT’s of Light, Space, Nutrients (especially Nitrogen). As well as Protection of Seeds & Sprouts during Germination Period.
– As explained in our MAIN TUTORIAL Here
Also, see our Answers to the 150+ USER COMMENTS
• Although Poppies will sprout in almost any Climate above Freezing (assuming other conditions are provided), they (their seeds) prefer to be planted in Temps between Freezing, and 65ª-70ª Degrees (F)– But can withstand Temps up to 95ª and above, once Mature.
• Now, it’s important to note that, because their Genetics store this information, sometimes Poppies will Sprout, then sadly die within a few days (or weeks, depending on the rate Temperatures change in your area) after being planted.
But, NOW is the TIME to PLANT!!
• Even If Temps are getting warmer than 70ª-80ª Degrees (F) in your area, it’s NOT too late!!
• We have created a TUTORIAL for WARM CLLIMATES and/or Late Bloomers HERE (MOBILE Version)
• We don’t have Pics of our “ICE Method“, but you’ll see other User’s give positive feedback on their own adoption of the idea in the COMMENTS Section (bottom)
01/31/2019 @ 5:43 am
Is it better to add trace minerals or fulvic to the water and with pink H.salt or 5 Alive scaler Salts used with a water Vitalizer. This is my first try.If you could E-mail me an instructional guide on the best ways to grow the healthiest plants using your professional opinion! So being I live in Ny I can start indoors by the bay window and when it gets a bit warmer I can have an EM probiotic for high oromus soil . 1 more question can someone send me a pdf or product recommendations with a detailed instruction on the best step by step growing care instructions. Thanks so much and I will place my order when I have more pro.Knowledge to my e-mail so I can print everything out! Thank you so much
02/10/2019 @ 7:19 am
marcscarpet, thanks for the question. I actually only used minerals for the 1st time last season. Mostly Dolomite, and some Micro-Nutrient helpers. But haven’t heard of the specific ones you speak of.
So, I apologize for not being able to offer more, but as you can see in the Photos throughout my Listings, I’ve had Poppies over 7′ Feet Tall, and SINGLE-Plants w/ over 75+ Flowers/Pods on them (and that was WITHOUT Mineral additions).
They key ingredient throughout a Poppy’s Life-cycle is NITROGEN, however. Even during Flowering.
I usually add water-solubles to the water, and all other Nutrients, need to be added PRIOR to planting.
The most difficult part for most people is the beginning stages.
This Tutorial should have a “READER” Version (depending on your browser), where it shows TEXT only (for printing)- but then you lose the pics, plus, some of my TEXT is in Image Format.
You can also simply “Print Screen” then save to PDF from Printer Queue, or you can simply SAVE AS.. and some browsers will allow you to save as PDF, if not just the HTML Link.
ADDITIONALLY: There’s a “PRINT” Function next to the Social Media “Share” Icons where it says “MORE” (at the right)
–HERE is a more broken down Version of this Tutorial.
But if you want a well-Detailed, Step-by-Step Version, see THIS ONE (AND the COMMENTS)
Keep me updated!
02/26/2019 @ 4:44 am
Hello and thank you for the information you supply here. I was just wondering what the reason is for the 12 inches of spacing for Poppy’s. Is the reason because they will compete for nutrients? if I fertilize well can I keep the spacing a little tighter? Or is it a different reason like the roots will entangled with each other or something? Thank you in advance for your response.
03/02/2019 @ 7:49 pm
It’s better to have fewer strong plants producing multiple pods per plant. Because if u don’t space them, you’ll just get a bunch of thin, weak, single-pod stems that will blow over and break on the 1st Summer breeze u get.
Trust me, I’ve tried it both ways.
I know it’s hard, but it’s worth it.
03/14/2019 @ 7:43 pm
DO YOU HAVE A BREAK DOWN OF WHICH VARIETYS ARE SINGLE POD OR MULLTI POD VARIETYS? I am new to growing poppy but I would like to try some superior variety’s.. why do most commercial farmers like the ones in Tasmania prefer to only have a single pod per plant? which variety’s would you suggest for someone who is only planning on growing a few to not be noticed by nosey neighbors but would like a high alkaloid variety? I figure mult-pod would be better for me, which variety’s produce multiple pods? I was planning on getting the o.b. as well as the Burma golden triangle but it doesn’t seem to say whether they are multipod, or single pod variety’s in your description.
03/16/2019 @ 9:52 pm
Scott, there’s no such thing as a “Single Pod Seed”. Although you can grow poppies close together, and many times end up with a single stem, that’s not the way I prefer (or suggest) Poppies be grown either.
You can get several Pods on ANY Type of Somniferum Poppy- as long as u provide them with the right conditions (lots of light, space, nutrients, and continue to water them as they’re blooming), new shoots will begin to appear, contrary to some of the rumors about NOT watering towards their Blooming/Pod Stage.
Here’s one I grew that I counted over 75 Pods on: https://www.facebook.com/OrganicalBotanicals/videos/619370951564747/
But, that was due to the Conditions and the environment it was in – In fact, it liked that particular place so much, that it Popped up all by itself, without me even trying (which is why they say Strays do better)- But I say, it’s the other way around. The environment was so perfect, it survived without a human’s hand.
Last year, I almost doubled that record. I had ONE plant w/ over 120 Pods. Completely different variety. It just liked the environment, and I gave it space, etc.
Here’s a Video I made 2 seasons ago (it was a LIVE-Stream experiment,so excuse the quality, and my thumb covering my Mic all the time) But, if you start it at about 4:10, you’ll see what I mean about the Single Pods vs. the Multi:
The Izmir Afghan, although pricey, are by far, our Best.
Be sure to explore our Blog for tons of Tutorials.
08/21/2020 @ 9:45 am
Anyone have any info on what the right pH for poppies are when growing hydroponically? I found an article on it, but its probably outdated since they were growing with fluorescent lights. They were using a pH between 6.5 and 6.8. I seem to be having some veiny yellowing and brown spots on the tips of 1 plant, all the leaves are pointing straight up. Others were yellowing but when I lowered pH, they seemed to get better. Had some white leaves too, thinking light is too bright, so I raised it up a bit.I’m using seed from a mix of 20 varieties, so some may suffer more just bc they are a different type, but since they are all the same species, I figured I should be able to find a range they can all enjoy. Also had one that had all these black things on it, thought it was bugs at 1st, was able to remove that with my finger, sprinkled some diatamatious earth on it and it seems better now. I think the pH range I was able to find is a mistake and they just assumed the proper soil pH is what it should be in hydro. Most plants seem to want 1 pH less than what is optimal for soil. So my instinct is telling me maybe the best pH for hydro poppies should be 5.5 to 5.8?
10/28/2020 @ 8:40 am
When growing indoors, sometimes the Variables become even MORE so, than if you were to plant in Nature.
This all has to do with the Soil.
You MUST begin with Sterilized (pasturized) Soil- (aka Steamed)
Most Store bought Potting mixes or Soil Conditioners already come that way – but some don’t.
The reason why you want clean soil, is because indoor environments create the perfect place for all the BAD Bugs and Bacteria to Thrive without Natural predators. Sometimes night time Temperatures can be a Natural Predator.
But I’m not sure if you’ve gone through our entire Tutorial, but Poppies like a Rich Nitrogen Diet.
Keep that in mind.
02/27/2021 @ 11:32 am
Hi been watching and reading as much as possible. I started my seeds in doors and they are now about an inch or so and roots are about to poke through the pods. I wanted to transplant them into a garden bed with a greenhouse topper while it’s still cool outside. I’m in zone 7 but will most likely still get a few freezes through April. Will the afghans survive at this point and if I wait longer will the root system get to big to transplant. Thanks.
02/28/2021 @ 11:10 pm
YES, and YES.
04/10/2021 @ 10:24 pm
Hi! I absolutely love your selection! I’m new to growing poppies. I’d like to get more info on growing indoors- which seeds are best to get to grow indoors, the best pots & chemicals to use, & any tips to getting the best results from an indoor setup. I live in zone 7 in an apartment in the city while we wait for our home to be completed in a few months in the same zone, so this will not be long-term but it will likely be too hot to plant then. I am a novice gardener & there is plenty of sunlight, especially in my kitchen. I currently have a small flower box off of my kitchen window that I use for herbs & veggies (which I bring inside the window during winter months), as well as some plants that hang out in the same place in the kitchen because of the amount of sun exposure. The temps/rainfall here are perfect right now to plant. Please let me know your best advice for my situation. Thanks!
04/24/2021 @ 8:15 pm
We haven’t grown indoors, but I suggest buying NEW Potting soil and use only NEW mediums.
DO NOT bring in Soil from the outdoors, or you will allow pests and fungai to thrive without any natural predators.
02/19/2022 @ 5:29 pm
Hi, I am a little confused about whether to water them after they’ve flowered. Most of my plants have pods that have flowered and dropped their petals while also having pods that haven’t flowered yet. Do i water these and give them nutrients.
I sort of got a mixed message from the following two things i read on here:
“Poppies require LOTS of nutrients (high in NITROGEN) for best results. (YES, even during Flowering).
-You want to continue watering them and giving them nutrients throughout their Flower/pod Stage until they’ve completely dried up.”
“Poppies will begin to bloom 10 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them. Their petals 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”
Those two things seem like they are saying opposite, just don’t want to do the wrong one!
02/24/2022 @ 10:14 am
CONTINUE TO WATER them every couple days until the whole plant turns brown. This will maximize your amount of blooms