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Oriental Poppies - Pictures and Growing Tips

Updated on March 13, 2014

Beautiful Orange Oriental Poppies

I just love these oriental poppies!  Even the unopened buds are interesting.
I just love these oriental poppies! Even the unopened buds are interesting. | Source

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

Poppies in the garden, paired with other flowers can look very nice.  Look at how the color pops, and looks great with the blue or purple flowers.
Poppies in the garden, paired with other flowers can look very nice. Look at how the color pops, and looks great with the blue or purple flowers. | Source

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!

Closer View of an Oriental Poppy
Closer View of an Oriental Poppy | Source

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

I love how these poppies look when a slight breeze comes along.
I love how these poppies look when a slight breeze comes along. | Source

Growing Oriental Poppies - Poll

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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

This one is still opening up.
This one is still opening up. | Source

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.

Oriental Poppies - Poll

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© 2014 Paula


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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Phyllis, thank you for your comment, and I think I agree with you about them being bright and cheerful! You can't miss them in the garden for sure. It makes me glad that you liked the pictures and that the information was easy to understand.

      I hope to grow more poppies of all kinds in the future, as there are so many different kinds of them. Have a wonderful day.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Kevin, Somehow I missed these posts, and I am so happy you stopped by and commented, as usual! I was glad to hear you pinned them and that others did the same, that makes my day, thank you! Poppies are so interesting really, their look changes so much from the bud to bloom to seed head, its a pretty interesting journey for this delicate looking flower.

      Thanks again so much, glad to have you as a friend here on HubPages!

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      I love Oriental Poppies ! They are so bright and cheerful. You have beautiful photos and your tips/information are easy to understand. You did a wonderful job on this hub.

      I have never grown these lovely flowers, but love to see them in bloom.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      What beauties, I am unsure whether I ever grew these or not. This Hub is very informative if I ever do decide to. When I cut off the heads of the flowers I will replant them somewhere else to grow more. I voted it up, shared and pinned it.


      By the way, someone on Pinterest re-pinned a couple of your flowers from my board. :-)

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Rpalulis, how have you been? I am so glad you are inspired for spring! I was surprised to find that about the seeds and getting a true variety that you think you will be getting, etc. I have seen that with other plants as well, but hadn't realized it with poppies. I would love to hear if what you grow turns out to be just as you expected it to be or not. I know that further on the down the line, if you collect seeds each year from the flower for that year, that some variation can occur. I hope to get some planted soon myself.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 3 years ago from NY

      I am so inspired for spring right now- thanks! I had no idea many of the wonderful varieties of Poppies do not grow true from seed- good to know. I do have an envelope of Poppy seed that was given to me last year, I can't wait to see what I get.