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
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Before we begin, many of you may be wondering:
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 6-3-3 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.
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