Soil Conditions for Growing Poppies

Written by katherine bryant
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Soil Conditions for Growing Poppies
With some attention to soil conditions, poppies will thrive and add colour and beauty to your garden. (poppy image by Edsweb from Fotolia.com)

Poppies come in nearly all shapes and sizes, and they are often desired to add colour and beauty to flower beds. Poppies are both perennials and annuals, depending on the species, and bloom in late spring to early summer. These lively flowers can be picky about soil conditions, but with some attention they will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 3-8.

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Soil Type

Poppy plants should be planted in deeply tilled soil (12 to 15 inches) in a permanent spot in the garden as they dislike being moved. Seeds can be sprinkled in desired areas of the garden in the middle of February or after the last snow. Poppies require fertile sandy or loamy soil; they do poorly in heavy clay soils. They can adapt to a range of soil pH, but for best results the soil should be as close to neutral as possible.

Water

Poppies are adapted to dry conditions and dislike excess moisture. Only water poppies when the soil feels dry to the touch an inch or two below the surface. During the summer months, the plant goes dormant and only needs watering during drought.

Fertilisation

Poppies should be fertilised during the growth periods of spring and fall. A liquid vegetable fertiliser (such as Miracle Gro) or fish fertiliser is preferred. In spring, applying a thin layer of compost also helps fertilise poppy plants. A 2-inch layer of mulch may be laid on top of the compost to control moisture and prevent weeds.

Propagation

Left undisturbed, poppies will often reseed themselves. They are hardy plants and tend to overwinter very well, though you may choose to save some of the seeds for replanting in the spring. Overcrowded poppies should be divided after the plants flower in summer.

Pests

Poppies are highly pest-resistant. Occasionally, poppies will get aphids or spider mites, detectable by small, pale spots on the leaves. These can be carefully sprayed off of the plant with water. Poppies do not attract deer.

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