I’m a big fan of poppies. I love the way they combine delicate, papery petals with a tough, reliable disposition. While looking through my photos recently, I pulled these images of some of my favorite poppies.
Called “corn poppy” for its habit of popping up as a weed in grain fields in Europe, Papaver rhoes (annual) is a weed most of us would be happy to have in our gardens. Like many poppies, it doesn’t transplant well, so it is best grown by sowing the seeds directly on the soil surface early in the spring or in the fall. It will grow rapidly in the cool spring weather, flower, and then die, but not before dropping many seeds that—if you don’t have too much mulch—will germinate again to carry on the show for next year.
Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale, Zones 3–7) is a tough, incredibly long-lived perennial. Give it a little sun, and it will reward you with lovely blooms each spring.
The Moroccan poppy (Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Pleno’, Zones 5–10) is one of the easiest plants to grow I know. Give it full sun and decent drainage, and it will bloom more or less nonstop all season long. It sometimes takes a break if the temperatures get too hot in the middle of the summer, but then it picks up again, blooming as soon as cooler weather arrives. It also self-sows gently for me but has never become a weed.
Bread seed poppies (Papaver somniferum) are another annual best sown in the fall or early spring, as they hate being transplanted. But give them open soil and a nice cool spring, and they will grow and bloom like crazy. There are many different types; this is one of the so-called peony flowered types, with fully double blooms and, in this case, dramatically fringed petal edges.
Another bread seed poppy, this one is of the variety ‘Flemish Antique’, which boasts incredible double blooms of petals that look hand-painted.
Close-up of the petals of ‘Flemish Antique’
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