Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
James H. Schutte
The glowing orange-red, delicately textured flowers of oriental poppies are one of the floral highlights of the late spring, early summer garden. Western Asian in origin, these hardy herbaceous perennials come in several color variants many of which are believed to be hybrids with the Iranian poppy (Papaver bracteatum). In the wild, these are meadow plants that grow well in locations with average to good fertility and sharp drainage.
In spring, oriental poppies put forth a rosette of coarsely dissected, bristly, gray-green leaves. Tall, prickly flower stems emerge in late spring to early summer, each crowned with a large globular bud encased in two green protective sepals. When the buds open the sepals fall to make way for glorious bowl-shaped flowers. The four to six petals (or more in double forms) have a crinkled tissue paper texture, come in vibrant shades of orange, red, pink of white, and almost always have a black blotch at their base. The petals surround a large, knob-like ovary capped by a scalloped purple-black disk. When brown and dry, this capsule fruit pops open along the cap to show holes that release small, black seeds like a shaker. Some cultivars spread via underground rhizomes; others stay put, forming dense clumps. The foliage dies back in early summer, often re-emerging in fall.
Give oriental poppies full sun or light shade and well-drained, average soil. Stake tall stems to keep them from flopping. Divide during summer dormancy, or in early spring. In the landscape these old-fashioned perennials look super in just about any sunny border, particularly in cottage and old-fashioned flower gardens. Surround them with late-blooming or robust perennials that can cover the visual and spatial gap their summer dormancy creates. They are also beautiful in bouquets, provided they are cut early in bloom and the cut ends are boiled or seared.
9 - 1
3 - 9
A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Full Sun, Partial Sun
18"-48" / 45.7cm - 121.9cm
24"-36" / 61.0cm - 91.4cm
Late Spring, Early Summer
Hybrid Origin, Western Asia
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
White, Red, Orange, Pink, Salmon, Coral, Lavender, Orange Red, Dark Salmon, Black
Green, Gray Green, Dark Green
Single, Double, Semi-Double
Cutflower, Feature Plant, Mixed Border
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