Oriental Poppies - Pictures and Growing Tips
Beautiful Orange Oriental Poppies
Gorgeous Oriental Poppies
It is a true joy for me to see Oriental poppies growing in the garden. They bring a lot of brightness to any garden area. While they don't have the longest blooming period, when they do bloom they make a great statement. I recall one time driving through Colorado. We stopped off for lunch at one point and this little shop had super beautiful poppies growing in the front. I recall it like it was yesterday, they were just so amazingly beautiful.
Different Ways to Start Growing Oriental Poppies
Many people start Oriental poppy flowers from seed, but there is a downside. Some of the most wonderful varieties don't grow true or breed true from the seeds. You might get a variation of what you thought you were, but they will still likely be very beautiful. Because of this, some go another route.
You can go with the option to buy plants that are grown vegetatively, for example. Depending on the time of year will make the difference in where one can find such plants. If it is spring time, you can find them often in the local nursery or garden centers if you look. If it is the fall season or a bit before, they will be shipped in the fall.
You want to look for oriental poppies, or Papaver Orientale. If you have never grown these, I highly recommend doing it at least once. You want to pay attention to the height the flowers will grow. Other than that, the differences are rather small.
Oriental Poppies in a Garden Setting
Plant Poppies Where they will be Happy
Oriental poppies are unique in that they are very hardy even in colder weather. This is why you will often seem them growing better in colder climates than the warmer ones. If you live in zones between 3 and 8, they are considered hardy there.
As for hours of sunlight needed, they like a good full day of sunlight. The good news however, is that they can still grow alright in areas where the sun is hitting them directly for only half of the day. If you go below this, they will struggle a bit more.
Oriental poppies need their room. They require about twelve to fifteen inches across or so, to really thrive. I hadn't realized this before, and planted them a bit too close in the past. It seems a bit deceiving, as they take their time to fill in an area that size. They do however, in a couple of years, and it is more than well worth it. Once they max out on the space they require, they will not go beyond that. So they are great for gardens that need plants to stay somewhat compact and in their space.
Even though can often grow to be about 18 inches tall, their green parts stay closer to the ground. This enables them to still be in the front of a flower garden if you are desiring that for whatever reason. Some people aren't too fond of the foliage on Oriental poppies, so it is good to plant companion plants that will fill in the spaces as the poppies are dying off. You can plant a variety of annuals there, or asters, or something else altogether. Whatever you decide, the blooms will steal the show, that is for sure!
Propagating and Dividing Oriental Poppies
You don't want to handle the soil around the roots of your Oriental Poppies until long after they have died down, or back. If you do it too early, the plants will die and not be able to handle it. So it is very much worth the wait. Generally speaking, this could be in the later part of July, or Earlier part of August. This is usually a safe time to handle them.
To propagate Oriental poppies, you can do a couple of different things. You can divide the roots, or use cuttings from the roots. Dividing them will produce larger plants in the shortest span of time, and is something I am more familiar with than the method of using root cuttings. If you opt for going with the root cuttings, you will get more plants, however. So it depends on what you are going for really.
For root cuttings, you can dig up the whole plant and get the portions of the roots that way. Or, you can take a spade to a portion of the roots while it is in the ground still and leave the main portion behind. Some of the more brittle roots may stay in the ground and grow their own poppies next season.
The size of the roots are about the size of a pencil. Each new little pencil sized section will produce a new plant. How exciting to have more and more each year! The thing you want to pay attention to is the orientation of the roots For instance, which part was closest to the crown of the plant, because the tops of the root pieces will produce stems, while roots will come out of the bottom, as you can imagine. You wouldn't want that planted upside down.
Different gardeners do this part differently. Just find a way to let yourself know which way is up, perhaps the angles of the cuts on the top and bottom, or with some other method that will help you to remember. See the next section for more details on this part of working with root cuttings.
Poppies Blowing in the Breeze
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Steps To Making Root Cuttings Into Oriental Poppy Flowers
It can begin to sound more complicated than this process usually is, so I will break it down into steps.
1. Dig up either the whole oriental poppy plant, or cut a section off while the plant is in the ground. Later July or August is probably good, if you live in the United States. I like the idea of leaving some of the plant in tact, in the ground. It may be easier to see what is going on however, if you dig it all up.
2. When you find the pencil sized roots, and remember which part is supposed to be facing upwards, then cut a root into about three pieces. You can cut the top part flat across the top, and the bottom part where the roots will be, at an angle.
3. Plant the cuttings in a little pot with good soil, about one half inch deep.
4. In a month or so, you will have new leaves above the soil! You can then take the cuttings out of the pot, separate them and plant them directly back into the garden. It is that easy!
Oriental Poppy Flower
Deadheading - To Keep Your Blooms Coming
When the blooms begin to put on their wonderful show, one thing you can do once the poppy fades, is to cut off the dead flower head. This keeps the flower producing more flowers, rather than putting even more energy into building seeds in the dead flower head. If you leave them in the garden, the plant will work on something other than putting out more blooms at some point.
This works for many flowers in the garden, and these are no exception. Since you only get about a good month or so of these gorgeous blooms, it makes sense to try and maximize your efforts.
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© 2014 Paula
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