The poppy family includes some of the world’s favorite garden flowers. Huge, bowl-shaped flowers, rich colors, and delicate, crepe-paper petals make these flowers irresistible. There are so many wonderful poppies worthy of growing in every garden. Here are a few of my favorites.
Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale, Zones 3–7 ) brightens the early summer garden with huge blooms in shades of orange, scarlet, and crimson. One of the toughest, longest lived perennials out there, this is a plant that will still be going strong decades after you first plant it, just as long as it gets plenty of sun. The only flaw to this great plant is that after flowering, it goes completely dormant, leaving a big hole in the garden. So plant it in the back of a bed, or surrounded by other plants that will come up and fill in the spot for the second half of the gardening season.
Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas, annual). This poppy gets its name from its habit of showing up as a weed in agricultural fields in Europe. For a weed, it can be a little difficult to grow in gardens. It hates to be transplanted, so you have to sow the seeds directly where they will bloom, either in the fall or earliest spring. Sow the seeds directly on the soil surface, keep weeds from swallowing them up, and you’ll be rewarded by armloads of brilliant red flowers. And if they are happy, they will self-sow and come back year after year.
Corn poppy isn’t always red—there are numerous selections in various shades of pink, and even ones with extra petals. This pure white form is particularly lovely.
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