The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.
Oriental poppies need about 1 inch of water a week from rain or a watering system. Soak the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches during spring or fall dry spells. Poppies can handle drier soils during summer dormancy and winter. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment
Sprinkle a handful of granular all-purpose fertilizer on the soil around each group of plants in the spring for the rain to soak in. Avoid getting the fertilizer directly on the leaves. For more information see the file for Fertilizers
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Mulch poppy seedlings over their first winter to insulate the soil against the temperature fluctuations that cause alternate freezing and thawing and may heave the new plants out of the soil. A 1 or 2 inch layer of chopped (not whole) leaves, straw or shredded bark spread over the soil around each young plant will serve. A light evergreen bough or sprinkling of straw placed over the plant foliage is protective also. Do not mulch during the growing season. Hand pull weeds to minimize disturbance to poppy roots. For more information see the file on Using Mulch
Poppies need very little care. When they bloom it is wise to stake the stems of taller varieties to keep them from flopping over in rain or wind. Set four stakes into the ground around each plant in the form of a square and string wire or heavy twine between the tops of the stakes. Green metal plant supports of various designs are available in garden centers and in mail order catalogs. After they have finished blooming, cut the flower stalks off at the base of the plant to prevent self-sown seedlings from sprouting in the bed. For more information see the file Staking Flowers
Because poppies do not like to be disturbed, acquiring more plants by dividing large clumps or taking root cuttings is not recommended except for experts. Instead, purchase new seedlings or plant seeds. Plant seedlings as described above. Start seeds by sprinkling them into moistened peat pots or other small containers filled with moist soilless planting medium. Cover them lightly with soil and keep them at 55F. They should germinate in 10 days to 2 weeks. Plant seedlings in the fall. Plants will bloom their second year.