Poppies from Seed: You Can Grow That!

Shirley poppy or Papaver rhoeas
As much as our choices in everything from paper towel to hand sanitizers have increased over the years, there are still more that we might not even know about. For instance, there are some plants you will rarely see at your local garden center or even as a mailorder plant. One reason is that they're just so easy to start from seed.

Bread poppy or Papaver somniferum

Plants that are considered easy to start from seed involve just a few little tips. For instance, when the poppy seed packet tells you to mix the seed with sand, it's really a good idea. Otherwise, you'll end up with piles of seed so crowded none of them will succeed. Get a bag of playground sand, put about a cupful into a large baggie with one packet of poppy seed, and shake it up like your life depends on it. You can enlist a kitchen strainer into the game so that the seeds are even more finely sown.

Scatter seed onto soil that has been cleared of leaf litter, leveled and moistened.  After scattering your seed, pat it down gently, and water. Poppy seed needs light to germinate.

If you're going to be starting poppy, or any other small seed, it will pay to find a hose nozzle with a very find mist spray setting. While it might not seem to do much, it will serve its purpose of settling the soil and the seed so that they form a nice cozy partnership.
California poppy - Eschscholzia californica 'Wrinkled Rose'
Both Shirley poppies and California poppies make good cut flowers, as long as you pick them just as they open. They're not long-lasting in a vase, but being able to view these beauties up close is part of their charm. Bread poppies and opium poppies both are botanically known as Papaver somniferum, the plant from which opium and poppy seed of the type used in baked goods is obtained.

Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape' is a hybrid bread seed poppy.
The best bang for your poppy buck is with Shirley poppies, aka corn poppies, or botanically Papaver rhoeas. A good selection is available at Renee's Garden Flowers, including "Angel's Choir" and "Falling in Love." Either of these mixes will give you a great variety of flowers that will draw you in for closer inspection.

Papaver rhoeas shows off its variations.
Papaver rhoeas often comes in a double form.
This antique-shaded flower is from the "Angel's Choir" mix.

Sometimes a Shirley poppy will just keep putting out more and more petals.

There is no end to the variety inside a packet of Shirley poppy seed.
For practically pain-free planting, get some poppy seeds. I hope you enjoy these harbingers of what will surely come. Some day. When the snow melts...
Enjoy more inspiration at the Garden Bloggers You Can Grow That site, where bloggers share their tips and experience.

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