How to Grow Wild Poppy Flowers

Updated November 21, 2016

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow," begins John McCrae's classic 1915 poem, "In Flanders Field." The poem helped raise the popularity of the bright-red wild poppy and gave it the new name of "Flanders poppy." The wild poppy is also known as red poppy, Shirley poppy, corn poppy and American Legion poppy. True to its origins as a wild flower, the wild poppy is low-maintenance, self-sowing and adaptable to many conditions.

Rake the area where you intend to plant the wild poppies. Poppies thrive in full sun, so plan your location accordingly.

Sow the poppy seeds in the early spring, after the snow metls. Spread the seeds evenly over the bare, raked ground.

Water the poppy seeds enough to keep the ground moist. The poppy sprouts will appear in about a week.

Prolong the blooming season with additional plantings spaced two to three weeks apart.

Transfer poppy seedlings when they are still just a few inches tall by taking a shovelful of dirt, including the poppy plant, and placing it in the desired location.

Leave dead flowers on the plant after blooming in the spring. This allows the poppy to self-sow, and you likely will never have to plant poppy seeds again.


Wild poppies need loose soil. If the ground in your area is clay, consider building a raised flowerbed filled with loose soil to house your poppies. If you have difficulty spreading the seed evenly, mix the poppy seeds with sand before sowing, especially when sowing poppies in large areas. Planting poppies in the fall will result in very early spring blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Wild poppy seeds
  • Shovel
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About the Author

Crystal Bench is a senior studying applied mathematics at Brigham Young University, Idaho. Along with her Bachelor of Arts, she has clusters in French, 3-D art, and physical science. Bench is also an avid writer, with work ranging from short stories to nonfiction pieces of many kinds, and even a few forays into poetry.