The poppy, a common name for papaver, will make a wonderful addition to any garden. A hugely varied family of flowers, their blooms can be big and blousy with some petals either ruffled, crimped or shaggy. Ranging in colour the largest oriental types can have heads that measure up to 15cm(6in). You can take your pick from the annual P. rhoeas and P. somniferum species, the dainty perennial Iceland types or the spectacular oriental poppies. Whichever you choose, you will be rewarded with beautiful and flamboyant blooms, which mix well with a wide range of other plants.
So diverse, poppies can look spectacular in beds, borders and pots, flowering from summer right through to the first frosts. They are also loved by pollinators and will attract beneficial insects to the garden.
How to Sow and Grow Poppies
Sow outdoors where they are to flower, 0.5cm(¼in) deep, directly into finely prepared soil which has already been watered. Seedlings usually appear in 14-28 days. Thin seedlings to 15cm(6in) apart. Water well until plants are established. For a continuous display, make sowings at two to three weekly intervals. Sowings made in curves rather than straight lines often create a more pleasing effect. Late summer and autumns sowings will flower the following year, often earlier than spring sowings. Poppies will grow in most soils but for best results they thrive in well-drained soil in full sun.
Sow indoors for surest results or for first year flowering varieties that need an early start. Sow in trays of seed compost and cover lightly with fine compost. A temperature of 15-20°C(60-68°F) is ideal. Keep moist. Seedlings usually appear in 14-21 days. Transplant seedlings 5cm(2in) apart to other trays or small individual pots when large enough to handle. Before hardening off and planting out when large enough.