How to Plant Bare-Root Poppies

Updated February 21, 2017

Poppies are often grown as ornamental plants in the home landscape for their big, bright iconic flowers. Poppies are relatively easy to plant and grow: Simply give them eight hours of sunlight daily and well-drained soil. These hardy, drought-tolerant flowers practically fend for themselves once established. But take care when starting bare-root poppies. Handle them gently to avoid breaking their carrotlike roots, and plant them at the correct depth or they may not survive transplantation.

Examine the poppy's roots carefully before purchase or immediately after receiving them in the mail. Healthy poppy roots are dry, slightly firm and unbroken. Do not waste your time planting poppies with broken, withered, smelly or mushy roots.

Dig holes wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots of the poppies without bending or breaking them, plus at least 4 inches of extra depth and 2 inches of extra width. Dig neighbouring holes at least 12 to 18 inches apart.

Plant each poppy so that a 3-inch layer of soil covers the top of the root crown. Plant too deep or too shallow and the poppy may not survive transplantation.

Water the soil, if it is not already moist, with 1 inch of water given via a gentle spray. Do not water again unless there is a drought.


Do not plant poppies into wet soil or soil that still has puddles three to four hours after a hard rain.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
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About the Author

Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.