Poppies are among the easiest and most rewarding flowers to grow. They sprout quickly from seed, often bloom the first year and tolerate many soils, as long as the soil is well-drained. The flowers are bright and showy, and enthusiasts developed pastel or double forms, sold alongside intense reds and orange single cultivars.
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California poppies (Papaver eschscholtzia) and Shirley poppies (P. rhoes) are among the showy annual poppies. Sow annual poppies in fall. Choose a sunny, well-drained area, scatter the seed and rake it lightly into the soil. Keep the seeds moist and they'll sprout within a week. In the spring, prepare yourself for a bright show of reds, oranges and golds from June until October. Many cultivars are double-flowered.
Perennial poppies have a wider variety of forms and functions. Oriental poppies (P. orientale) bloom for a short time and die back in summer, but the large flowers are stunning and produce shades of pink, red and orange. Icelandic poppies (P. nudicaule) are rather short-lived as perennials, but reseed easily and may bloom the first year if sowed in early spring. Papaver alpinum is a short, low-growing species useful for poor soils or as garden edging.
Annual poppies will easily self-sow and often naturalise throughout the garden. Most gardeners only plant annual poppies once for colour year after year, and some gardeners find poppies invading every bed in the landscape. Perennial poppies reseed as well, but deadheading encourages repeat bloom.
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