In the past I’ve always direct sown poppy seed but over the last year or two I’ve been sowing some into 5cm tubes and planting the seedlings out when they are strong enough. The seed is so fine, dust like really, that it’s almost impossible to sow a single seed to a pot and I always get 4 or 5 to germinate. I thin to one seedling per pot whilst they are quite small so that the roots of the one left aren’t disturbed. The seed is so fine that it’s sown onto the surface of the potting soil. A watering with a gentle rose will settle the seed in without burying it.
When the seedling is strong enough it’s planted into the garden. Today I’m planting some Iceland Poppies in a bed of Dutch Iris. All being well the Iris and poppies will flower together during spring although the poppy of course will flower during winter as well.
Most poppies will self sow in the garden if allowed to go to seed. I had a couple of beds of Shirley Poppies last year and after the summer display of sunflowers was pulled out and the bed formed up again a tremendous crop of poppy seedlings has germinated. I’ll just thin them out and leave them for a late spring show.
I grew a beautiful Californian Poppy called Cream Swirl last year in a bed of mixed Salvia greggii selections. The poppy which started to flower early in the season, late September, was still in flower in the new year.
Peony Poppies are direct sown here and now is a good time to do it. They make substantial plants so at Lambley they are thinned to 40cm apart. This spacing will give strong plants with many flowers which are produced over a relatively long period. Congested plants generally produce one flower only.
My wife Criss Canning loves painting Peony Poppies and painted the variety ‘Danish Flag’ last spring.